Focus on corruption as Indonesian election draws near

13 Feb 2009
Paul Barber, TAPOL

With less than two months to go before Indonesians go to the polls on 9 April, attention is on the corruption that has bedevilled the political system for years. 

The global financial crisis has prompted questions about how the numerous parties will raise the money needed to fund their campaigns without resorting to dubious or illegal practices.  A number of legislators have recently been charged with bribery.

A detailed analysis of the problems associated with political bribery and corruption in Indonesia is provided in ‘Money politics at a time of financial crisis’ published today online by TAPOL in its latest Election Update.

Since the demise of the kleptocratic Suharto regime in 1998, money politics in Indonesia has become more complex although certainly not a problem unique to that country.  Power is no longer in the hands of a single group and economic interests are considerably more diversified.

Some blame the system under which political parties operate - featuring cuts in state funding in recent years and the increasing influence of wealthy businessmen and individuals - as being part of the problem.

But funding difficulties could force parties into attracting greater support from the grassroots and ensuring that their programmes more closely reflect the pressing economic and social needs of the vast majority of Indonesians.  There is a small hope that this painful period of economic downturn could provide further impetus to the renewal of the political life of the country. 

The latest news on this and other election issues is available from TAPOL’s fortnightly news digests.