Seminar: Indonesia’s Simultaneous Direct Elections: Campaigns, Candidates and Voters



On 9 December 2015, Indonesia conducts its first simultaneous elections of regional leaders (Pilkada) in 263 regions across the archipelago. The simultaneous direct elections provide a close look at local politics, particularly at how parties manage the various elections in different regions, how candidates were nominated, and how voters decide. This presentation focuses on the elections in North Sumatera, North Sulawesi, and East Java. Regions in East Java are dynamic politically and economically, and the record of healthy competition between the various parties makes it important to observe. Regions in North Sumatra host a variety of ethnic and religious identities, which are influential during elections. North Sulawesi is a province that displays a high level of political fragmentation, competitiveness and participation. Manado, in particular, is one of the most important economic centers in Eastern Indonesia, and one of the few major cities in the archipelago with a predominantly Christian population in a Muslim-majority Indonesia.

This seminar will bring together findings and trends from these various regions, to build a better understanding of the current shape of local politics in Indonesia.


Deasy Simandjuntak is a political anthropologist and Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. In 2010, she obtained her PhD from the University of Amsterdam, with a dissertation on “patronage democracy in Indonesia”. She was post-doctoral fellow at Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) Leiden (2009-2011) and guest fellow at Southeast Asian Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany (2010). Some of her most important publications are “Gifts and Promises: Patronage Democracy in a Decentralized Indonesia” in European Journal of East Asian Studies (EJEAS) 2012, and “Milk-Coffee at 10 AM: Encountering the State through Pilkada in North Sumatra” in Van Klinken and Barker (eds) State of Authority: The State in Society in Indonesia, New York: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publication 2009. Her most recent publication is “Doing Anthropological Fieldwork with Southeast Asian Characteristics? Identity and Adaptation in the Field” (with Michaela Haug), in Huotari, Rüland, Schlehe (eds) Methodology and Research Practice in Southeast Asian Studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2014.  She wrote the ISEAS Perspective “Persistent Patronage: Explaining the popularity of former corruption convicts in Indonesia’s Regional Elections (October 2015).”

Ulla Fionna is Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. She studied at Airlangga University, the University of Warwick, and the University of Sydney. After receiving her PhD, she held post-doctoral positions and taught at the University of Sydney. She is the author of The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian Indonesia: From the Grass-roots Up (University of Amsterdam Press, 2013) and Watching Indonesia’s Elections 2014 (ISEAS, 2015). Her main research interests are Indonesian politics, political parties, electoral politics, and democratisation. Currently, she is studying the Indonesian Muslims’ political aspirations.

Diego Fossati is a Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, where he graduated in 2015, and an MA from the National University of Singapore. His current research focuses on the effect of democratization on the provision of social services in low and middle-income countries, with a particular focus on Indonesia and Southeast Asia. His research interests include the politics of development, multi-level governance, voting behavior, and social policy in young democracies.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 15 December 2015.


Dec 16 2015


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2