Talking Indonesia: democracy for sale

With Indonesia’s general elections less than three months away, political campaigning is reaching high gear. In Talking Indonesia this week, I speak to Ward Berenschot, co-author with Edward Aspinall of a timely new book that takes a close look at the informal politics of elections and patronage democracy.


Democracy for sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State in Indonesia (Cornell University Press) delves behind the scenes of local election campaigns, examining practices of systemic vote buying and exchange of favours. What are some of the key elements of informal politics? What role do political parties play? How does Indonesia compare to other similar democracies? Is Indonesia’s democracy really for sale? I discuss these issues and more with Berenschot, a postdoctoral fellow at KITLV, Leiden University, whose research focuses on local democracy, clientelism and identity politics in India and Indonesia.


In 2019, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.


Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


Photo by Ikhlasul Amal on Flickr.


Dr Jemma Purdey is an adjunct fellow at Deakin University. She is the author of Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia 1996-1999, published by NUS Press.