Political Representation in Indonesia


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 11
Thu 14:00-15:30 REC A2.09

Part 2

Session 12
Thu 16:00-17:30 REC A2.09


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Over the past two decades, political scientists have written extensively about the quality of Indonesia’s democratic institutions; surprisingly little work has been done to examine the specific problem of representation. There is much we do not know about how Indonesians—both elites and voters— understand the concept of political representation. In the comparative literature, scholars distinguish between the substantive representation of voters’ ideological positions, preferences, and demands, and the descriptive representation of demographic groups within political institutions—for example in terms of class, gender or religion. Gaps or failings on either score can impact popular satisfaction with democratic politics (Hayes and Hibbing 2016; Pruehs 2006; Wängnerud 2009; Clayton et al 2019).

This panel, therefore, brings together three presentations that take a broad look at problems of political representation in contemporary Indonesia. We ask: How do voters from different social groups understand the concept of representation? Is representation conceived of mostly in descriptive or substantive terms? Who feels represented, who doesn’t, and why? How can we explain the under-representation of particular groups, like the working class or women? How do politicians, from local legislators to the president, view their role as elected representatives? And how do entrenched patterns of clientelist politics impede or facilitate different forms of representation?

Papers will address these sorts of questions using a range of methodological tools, from national surveys to elite interviews. We bring original empirical material to bear upon questions rarely asked in the Indonesian context, and in doing so hope to bring the Indonesian case into conversation with comparative scholarship on how representation works in young and clientelist democracies.