The 2018 Indonesian Regional Elections: Local Politics with National Implications?



About the Seminar

On June 27, 2018, 171 provinces, districts and towns across Indonesia will hold elections for their local leaders. Historically, regional elections (Pilkada) have been highly local affairs, with little connection to coalitions and electoral outcomes at the national level. The rich literature on Pilkada emphasises that campaigns are personalised and candidate-centered, and the winners are generally well-resourced local figures, often with strong networks into their region’s bureaucracy and its religious, ethnic and socio-cultural institutions. But the proximity of these Pilkada to the 2019 legislative and presidential elections has given them an air of national import. Particularly when it comes to the strategic and populous provinces on Java, pundits and politicians alike have framed these local elections as a kind of ‘barometer’ for the national political mood.

To what extent have national politics shaped these local elections? Have the 2018 Pilkada differed in substantive ways to those that came before? What factors mattered most in determining the results in the country’s most strategic provinces? In this seminar, presenters address these questions, with particular reference to the gubernatorial elections on Java, as well as North Sumatra and West Kalimantan. Based on recent fieldwork, speakers will explain who won in each province and why, whether national politics mattered, what the results might mean for 2019, and what each case reveals about patterns of electoral politics in Indonesia more broadly.

About the Speakers

Charlotte Setijadi is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. She completed her PhD in anthropology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Prior to joining ISEAS, Charlotte was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. Her research focuses on Chinese soft power in Southeast Asia and identity politics in Indonesia. Charlotte’s book Memories of Unbelonging: Collective Trauma and Chinese Identity Politics in Post-Suharto Indonesia will be published by University of Hawai’i Press in 2019.

Deasy Simandjuntak is a political anthropologist and Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. She completed her PhD in 2010 at the University of Amsterdam, with a dissertation on “patronage democracy”, taking North Sumatra’s local elections as case study. She was post-doctoral fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden, Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden University and Freiburg University. Her publications on local elections include “Milk-Coffee at 10 AM: Encountering the State through Pilkada in North Sumatra” in Van Klinken and Barker, State of Authority: The State in Society in Indonesia, Cornell SEAP, 2009 and “Gifts and Promises: Patronage Democracy in a Decentralized Indonesia”, European Journal of East Asian Studies, 2012.

Eve Warburton is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. She completed her PhD in 2018 at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University. Her research focuses upon the politics and political economies of Southeast Asia, and particularly Indonesia. Eve’s work has been published in the Journal of East Asian Studies, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Southeast Asia Research, East Asia Forum, and New Mandala.

To register, please fill in this form and email to by 29 June 2018.


Jul 02 2018


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2