Seminar: “Elektabilitas” Politics and the 2017 Local Elections: quo vadis Indonesia’s Party System?



About the Seminar

This presentation will review the recent elections for governors, district heads and mayors, looking in particular at the relationship between parties and their most prominent candidates, usually chosen for “electability” above all else. The recent gubernatorial election in Jakarta will be a major focus of the presentation, along with references to other areas. What are the implications for the role of ideology and policy, especially in terms of national political economy, with the steadily increasing strength of “elektabilitas” politics? The presentation will argue that the increasing trend for parties to coalesce specifically around “electable candidates” rather than ideological, programmatic or platform perspectives represents a stagnation in Indonesian party politics. This stagnation represents a deep capturing of these parties by a narrowly defined status quo political economy. It will also argue that on the rare occasions where policy issues or ideology have been important in the recent local elections for bupati, mayors and governors, the policies have been the policies of individuals and not parties and have a strictly local characteristic thereby not effectively countering the status quo capture of the party system.

The gubernatorial elections in Jakarta will be highlighted as a partial exception, resulting from the perception that the elections there are directly connected to the 2019 Presidential elections, which has national implications. However, policy differences of substance still did not become central. Different ideological emphasis around the issue of the role of religion and ‘pluralism’ did emerge but were not reflected in any policy debates.

About the Speaker

Max Lane is a Senior Visiting Fellow (half-time) at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Gajah Mada University. His most recent books are Decentralization and Discontents: An Essay on Class, Political Agency and National Perspective in Indonesian Politics (ISEAS 2014); Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto (Verso 2008, 2017); and Catastrophe in Indonesia (Seagull/University of Chicago 2010). In 2016 he published a collection of poems and prose in Indonesia, Poems and Otherwise: Anecdotes Scattered (Djaman Baroe, 2016), which was launched at the 2016 Singapore Writers Festival. He is also the translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet set of novels and other works of Toer as well as plays and poems of W.S. Rendra. He was the founding editor of Inside Indonesia magazine, has served as a Second Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and as a Principal Research Officer for the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in the Australian Parliament as well as a journalist.


To register, please fill in this form and email it to by 23 March 2017.


Mar 24 2017


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2