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The Institutionalisation of

Political Parties in Post-

authoritarian Indonesia
From the Grass-roots Up
Ull a Fionna

amsterdam university press

The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian
Publications Series

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Prasenjit Duara (Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore) / Carol
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Yuri Sadoi (Meijo University) / A.B. Shamsul (Institute of Occidental Studies /
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Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) / Wim Boot (Leiden University)

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The Institutionalisation of
Political Parties in Post-
authoritarian Indonesia

From the Grass-roots Up

Ulla Fionna
Publications Series

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For Verdi, Devon and Austin –
I am grateful to God to have your sustaining love
Table of Contents

Preface 9

Acknowledgements 11

1 The Question of Institutionalisation 13

Role of Political Parties 15
Parties in Democratic Transition 17
Importance of Function 18
Overview of the Book 20

2 Genesis of Modern Political Organisation in Indonesia 25

Advantages and Challenges of Party Organisation after
Independence 27
Guided Democracy: Transition to Total Control 50

3 Diminishing Grass-roots Influence during the New Order 55

Reformasi: Another Period of Transition 71

4 Party Organisation 75
Elements of Party Organisation 75
Party Administration in Malang 80
Effects of Party Administration on Party Organisation 89
Conclusion 93

5 Party Activities 95
Importance of Party Activities 95
Dynamics of Party Activities 98
Party Activities in Malang 109
Conclusion 114

6 Recruitment Approaches 117

The Dynamics of Membership for Political Parties 117
Perceptions of Recruitment 120
Comparison of Different Recruitment Approaches 131
Conclusion 136
7 Members’ Motivations and Participation in the Parties 139
Motivation and Involvement in Political Parties 139
Membership Dynamics 144
The Contours of Members’ Participation 159
Conclusion 164

8 Party Career and Intra-party Democracy 165

Party Career Advancement as Proof of Intra-party Democracy 165
Development of Party Career 169
Party Career and the Implementation of Intra-party Democracy
as a Sign of Party Institutionalisation 182
Conclusion 185

9 Progress of Party Institutionalisation and Its Role in

Indonesia’s Democratisation 187
Little Steps Forward 187
Stages and Paths to Institutionalisation in Malang 195
Implications for Indonesia’s Democratic Transition 200
Impact of Party Organisation on the 2009 Elections 203
Where to Go From Here? 207

Glossary 211

Notes 215

Bibliography 233

Index 247

Indonesia’s democratisation has provided its political parties with the

freedom to develop their organisational prowess and break away from
the manipulation and suppression that they had suffered during the
New Order era (1966-1998). This book assesses the extent to which
these changes have become institutionalised by providing the first de-
tailed examination of how the local party branches of four large parties
have evolved in the period that has followed: Partai Golkar (Golkar
Party), Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDIP, Indonesian
Democratic Party Struggle), Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN, National
Mandate Party), and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS, Prosperous Justice
Party) in Malang (East Java). Based on extensive fieldwork and observ-
ing the day-to-day operations of local branches in all four political par-
ties, this book provides a new bottom-up perspective on how the activ-
ities, administration and membership of each party has changed, and
what factors help explain why some political parties in Indonesia have
managed to strengthen their institutional base more than others.
This book offers a critical investigation of how political parties have
contributed towards Indonesia’s transition process. It is the first in-
depth analysis of the grass-roots organisation of multiple parties after
the 1999 and 2004 elections, and will be of particular relevance to
those interested in Indonesian studies, democratic transition and the
changing nature of political parties.

This book is based on my PhD thesis which was completed under the
supervision of Michele Ford and Adrian Vickers. Special gratitude is
due to David Reeve who has always provided encouragement and sup-
port – I am so proud and lucky to call him both a mentor and a friend.
I am especially thankful for the guidance of Lily Rahim, Paul Fawcett,
Ben Goldsmith and John Mikler whose constant encouragement was
This book would not have been possible without the help from grass-
roots activists in Malang such as Pak Aris, Pak Widodo and Pak
Sophya. Their passion and vision for party organisation is contributing
to the progress of demokrasi in Indonesia. I have also really appreciated
the help of Tom Wells who has provided such thoughtful editing.
1 The Question of Institutionalisation

Because of their prominence in Western democracies, political parties

have a reputation as the most established means of political participa-
tion. Political parties serve as an important vehicle for engagement in
politics, and becoming a party member is a simple way to take a politi-
cal stance. However, in Indonesia, the connection between political par-
ties and political participation was undermined by two of Indonesia’s
most prominent presidents, Sukarno (1945-1966) and Suharto (1966-
1998). Sukarno is famous for his decision to ‘bury the parties’, while
Suharto manipulated the party system to enhance his personal power.
Sukarno and Suharto, Indonesia’s first two presidents, dramatically
shaped the political landscape by controlling political parties and limit-
ing their freedom to develop. Under Sukarno’s policy of Guided
Democracy, parties were seen as a serious threat to presidential power.
Sukarno created a system that allowed him greater control while dimin-
ishing party authority. Under Suharto’s New Order regime, the links be-
tween citizens and government became even more limited, and only a
handful of people could participate in formal politics. The architects of
the New Order argued that Indonesian citizens were better off not
being involved in politics: instead, they should be a ‘floating mass’ that
concentrated on economic development. As a result of this policy,
Indonesian parties – with the exception of the government-backed polit-
ical vehicle Golkar – were not allowed to operate at the community lev-
el. Their ability to channel political participation and recruit grass-roots
members was thus limited.
Since the fall of Suharto, political parties, both old and new, have had
the freedom to operate and compete with one another nationally and lo-
cally. As this book shows, major parties have used this freedom to devel-
op their organisations. I place particular emphasis here on the operation
of their local branches and their management of members as indicators
of their organisational capacities. But while Indonesian parties now have
the opportunity to influence politics and society, and experiences from
other countries show that parties can play a crucial role in democratisa-
tion, their role in Indonesia’s democratic process is still unclear.
Around 180 political parties were established in Indonesia immedi-
ately after Suharto resigned in 1998. Despite this flowering, only 48

contested the 1999 elections and the feelings of euphoria lasted only a
few years, as many Indonesians felt abandoned once the post-New
Order parties entered government. After a 32-year period of ineffective-
ness under Suharto’s New Order, Indonesian political parties were per-
ceived as incompetent and dysfunctional. They had to prove to the
citizenry that they were different from the old parties. In the case of
these legacy parties, they had to demonstrate that they had changed.
Despite great hopes from democracy activists that political parties
would play a prominent role in the democratic transition process, trust
in parties in Indonesia remains low because they have failed to con-
vince Indonesians that they are different from the parties of the past.
Is the continuing cynicism towards Indonesian parties at the local
level justified? This book explores this question based on a case study
of the rural and metropolitan branches of four different parties in the
Malang district in East Java province. It employs a systematic frame-
work to identify signs that parties have attempted to overcome their dys-
functional pasts by better organising themselves at the grass-roots level.
Although parties’ success is usually measured by votes gained during
elections, this success may be short-term unless a party is well-organ-
ised. Poorly organised parties depend on ephemeral factors such as a
leader’s charisma for their success, while parties with solid organisa-
tional structures are better equipped to manage and cultivate long-last-
ing support. Weak organisation also means that parties are more de-
pendent on patronage and money politics. The parties examined here
have enjoyed various degrees of success in their attempts to organise
themselves at the local level and connect with the grass-roots.
Specifically, there have been important variations both between legacy
and new parties and within each.
While the four parties under consideration all exert some control and
guidance from their central offices, the administrative set-ups of their
local branches, their choices of activities, and their responses to local
developments and issues are determined independently of their central
executives. This independence means that differences can be found be-
tween local branches, and between the local and national levels.
Although the variations in practices between branches indicate that they
have the freedom to manage themselves, branches must carefully man-
age this freedom to ensure that they perform their functions effectively.
This book suggests that although greater freedom has enhanced the de-
velopment of Indonesia’s political parties, further progress in grass-
roots democracy will depend on their ability to create structures that
permit more grass-roots political participation. At the same time, mem-
ber and voter demands on parties and expectations of their performan-
ces will also be important factors in their development.

Role of Political Parties

In recent decades, an increasing number of countries around the world

have adopted democratic forms of government, whether of the ruling
elite’s own accord, by popular demand, or through imposition by exter-
nal forces. In Indonesia’s case, Feith (1962: 38-42) argues that the
struggle against colonialism created resentment against injustice and
the will to become independent. This had, subsequently, turned into a
desire for democracy. Democracy was associated with ‘peopleness’ (kera-
kyatan) and was seen as an ideal system for ‘nation building’ and ‘edu-
cating people to greater national and civic awareness’ (Feith 1962: 41).
Thus, upon independence in 1945, democracy was the political system
adopted in Indonesia.
Essentially, the basis of democracy is the rule of the people, with the
guarantee of equal rights to participate in politics and free elections (de
Tocqueville 1945; Dahl 1998; Huntington 1991). A democracy should
ensure a citizen’s right to participate in free elections. Schattschneider
(1960: 141) believes that democracy involves the participation of the
people in the process of ‘defining the alternatives of public policy’,
while Lipset focuses on how democracy gives ‘the largest possible part
of the population’ the chance to decide on regular substitutions of gov-
ernment officials (in Vanhanen 2000: 251-252). These definitions of de-
mocracy are premised on the existence of political freedom and repre-
sentation, and stress citizens’ participation in government. However, a
comprehensive understanding of democracy requires a more sophisti-
cated analysis of its prerequisites.
Robert Dahl concentrates on member recruitment and participation
in political parties. His criteria for a democratic process also include ef-
fective political participation and voting equality: both requirements
point to the important role of political parties (1998: 37-38). For Dahl,
democracy requires active citizen involvement in politics and elections.
Elections are the mechanism through which citizens choose and cast
their votes for candidates whom they believe are able to best represent
them in government. Thus, participation in elections is the only way for
citizens to ensure that their aspirations are communicated within for-
mal political structures. The state ensures voting quality by providing a
free, fair and proper means to vote. The state must ensure that elections
are run fairly, for elections are the ‘lifeblood and backbone’ of democ-
racy (Huntington 1993: 174). According to Dahl (1998), free elections
where voters are able to cast their votes without feeling coerced by the
government are the main indicator of an ideal democracy.
As Dahl maintains, one of the key institutional conditions for democ-
racy is a functioning party system. Gunther, Montero & Linz argue that
political parties are crucial because they are the ‘principal mediators

between the voters and their interests’ (2002: 58). Political parties are
usually established as means of articulating political beliefs or ideology
with the aim of gathering other people with similar ideas to strengthen
their position to achieve outcomes that meet their aspirations. Whether
they are members of the party they vote for or not, voters generally sup-
port a party because they agree with what they believe the party is fight-
ing for. In other words, parties articulate and aggregate societal interests
(Hofferbert 1998: 7).
In many established democracies, political parties are experiencing
decreasing membership and diminishing links between them and vot-
ers. The strength of party identification is also declining. In New Order
Indonesia, the government had made voting compulsory for civil serv-
ants, while in the rest of the community voting was celebrated as the
realisation of democracy. In contrast to democratic systems, where iden-
tification with a party can be seen as a psychological bond, one possibly
influenced by voters’ election experiences and parental socialisation
(Dalton & Weldon 2007), in New Order Indonesia voters’ attachment to
parties was heavily influenced by the government. Since the fall of
Suharto, however, parties have had the freedom to conduct recruitment
campaigns, where voters can choose their parties independently. Thus
choice of parties is now both influenced by the traditional pattern of
patron-client relationships and a matter of individual freedom to
choose, which can be influenced by parties’ recruitment campaigns.
Linz (1997: 416) argues that new democracies will have even ‘fewer
voters with a strong party identification’. While ‘people are actually freer
to choose’ in new democracies than in the previous regimes, he writes,
their ‘degree of loyalty is questionable’. It is arguably harder for parties
to attract members because of a decline in the relationship between
party membership and voting. Nonetheless, it is premature to suggest
that the role of parties will eventually end or that they will be replaced
by another institution. Parties remain ‘the main agents of political rep-
resentation and… virtually the only actors with access to elected posi-
tions in democratic politics’ (Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 2). They thus
continue to be the main vehicle for individuals to enter the government
and one of the reasons individuals continue to join parties is so that
they can contest elections and gather votes to fill parliamentary seats.
Parties’ interests are served when their candidates accumulate enough
votes to be elected into government, and party support strengthens can-
didates’ chances of election. Independent candidates are elected with
other kinds of community support, usually from interest groups, but it
remains rare for political leaders to build a support base outside an es-
tablished political party.

Parties in Democratic Transition

Theories of democratic transition suggest that political parties play a de-

fining role in the transition. As Mainwaring & Scully (1995) and
Pridham (1995) suggest, the key to establishing a democracy is
strengthening democratic institutions, one of which is political parties.
Political parties are important in democratic transitions regardless of
the governmental system previously in place in a particular country.
Linz & Stepan argue that there are certain paths that non-democratic re-
gimes follow during democratisation, depending on the regime type
(Linz & Stepan 1996: 62-64). But regardless of the regime type, Linz &
Stepan argue, the existence of ‘free elections’, ‘rule of law’, and ‘lively
civil society’ are among the necessary prerequisites. Political parties are
vital to these prerequisites. Although different systems have different
implications for the role of the parties, the essence of democracy is that
there must be freedom and equality for all parties – which in certain sit-
uations could mean dismantling the ruling government’s party if the
deposed regime had given it special privileges. As an example, in
Eastern Europe, parties have played an important role in the manage-
ment of conflict, the channelling of participation, national integration
and the establishment of legitimacy. The parties grew stronger as a re-
sult of these activities, which in turn became a catalyst for further dem-
ocratisation (Lewis 2001: 548).
As Lewis points out, parties in newly-formed democracies are a ‘key
institutional mechanism for coping with the tensions that underlie the
emergence of conflict, and they need to rapidly develop to cope with im-
mediate stress and demands of the early transition period’ (Lewis 2001:
552). They must function properly in order to support the democratic
transition process. The pressures of the early transition period favour
incumbent parties that benefit from existing structures (Randall &
Svasand 2002: 16). However, as the transition progresses, both incum-
bents and new parties have similar opportunities to contribute to the
democratic process, as long as they are organised and institutionalised.
Many scholars argue that political parties are crucial to the success of
democratic transition (Gunther, Montero & Linz 2002: 58; Dahl 1998:
57; Pridham 1995: xii; Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 27). Political parties
are important partly because they are ‘agencies for forging links be-
tween citizens and policy-makers’ (Lawson 1980: 3). Here a party’s
membership strength is key, as no party could claim it links citizens
with government if it does not attract members. Parties with few mem-
bers are limited in their ability to function as participatory linkages
(Klingemann & Fuchs 1995: 136).
Political parties in a young democracy can also shape further demo-
cratisation. Jupp argues that parties are essential to the ‘continued

functioning of societies by resolving strains on social organisation and

by legitimising governments’ (1968: 22). According to Taylor-Robinson
(2001: 596), parties adopt a range of policies to show transparency in
their internal decision-making and these policies affect the type of polit-
ical system they adopt when in power. For example, legacy parties that
encourage member participation will help democratic consolidation, but
those that deny member participation will only ‘fill the vacuum’ in the
transition period and hinder democratic consolidation (Taylor-Robinson
2001: 599). While incumbent parties may have used ‘undemocratic tac-
tics to obtain power’ if they continue to do so it could hamper the appli-
cation of democratic rules in the new regime (Taylor-Robinson 2001:
586). New parties should be selective about which policies and organisa-
tional structures they adopt. If they wish to garner public support, they
need to respond to the public’s dissatisfaction with older parties by in-
troducing more democratic measures.

Importance of Function

In both new and established democracies, parties need to function ef-

fectively for democracy to work. In new democracies this is particularly
important, as parties need to establish ways to accommodate different
voter aspirations and compete freely. In this situation, the incumbent
parties usually have a strong association with the former authoritarian
government, while young parties represent aspirations for reform. As a
democracy develops, different interests have to be channelled and medi-
ated, and parties play an important role in representing them.
Differences between incumbent and young parties may decrease as the
incumbents try to attract more support by disassociating themselves
from the old regime. When this occurs, competition between incum-
bents and young parties will be stronger, which can only benefit the
transition process.
To a large extent, competition among parties is, in effect, competition
to attract grass-roots support, since garnering grass-roots support is the
most essential way for a party to perform its function of linking citizens
to government. To be effective in representing voters’ interests, a party
needs to develop a strong grass-roots membership through recruitment
(Vanhanen 2000; Mair & van Biezen 2001). Efficient parties help en-
sure that political demands are voiced to the government and that pub-
lic opinion shapes policy. To play this role effectively, parties must have
well-functioning branches. Mainwaring & Scully argue that major par-
ties must have ‘somewhat stable roots in society’ in order for a democ-
racy to stabilise; such roots help provide ‘regularity’ and make clear to
people what a party represents (1995: 5). A party’s local branches are

crucial extensions of its central office in promoting the party’s plat-

forms; parties must have a ‘presence at the local and national levels’
(Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 16). Janda & Colman argue that a local
branch’s management and activities indicate how organised a party is
(Janda & Colman 1998). A successful party not only wins seats, it also
provides a wide range of services to members, which requires well-
organised local branches (Hofferbert 1998).
Because they operate at the local level, party branches are parties’ di-
rect representatives to the public and their means to connect with the
community. This interaction enables the community to witness how
branches are administered, which reflects the state of party organisation
as a whole. As the sector of the party which ‘continually extends its
membership and remains active outside the election period’ (Duverger
1964: xvi), a local branch is also responsible for managing all aspects of
a party’s grass-roots operations. It is particularly vital for a party’s re-
cruitment programmes, as it is the first point of contact for potential
members. Despite the trend of declining party membership (Selle &
Svasand 1991), studies have found that membership is still important
for parties for three reasons. Firstly, notwithstanding financial support
from the state, parties still rely on membership fees and donations.
Secondly, members serve as ‘warm bodies’ which can fill official posi-
tions, both within the party and in public offices (Katz & Mair 1994:
14). Thirdly, parties rely on their members to project a mass party im-
age, as ‘proof’ that they are ‘viable channels for political representation’
and to mobilise voters (Katz & Mair 1994: 14-15).
Individual party members usually go directly to the nearest local
branch to register with the party (Bille 1994). This procedure is crucial
to the grass-roots recruitment process and parties typically have central
recruitment strategies that are delegated to branches. The efficiency of
branch offices in handling enquiries and their professionalism in con-
ducting party activities can potentially encourage supporters to register
as members. Conversely, failure to successfully or efficiently conduct
these activities can deter potential members, or even persuade them to
shift their allegiance to another party. Branch capacity is thus crucial to
the success of a party’s recruitment activities and building local
Although membership size is a greater priority for mass parties than
cadre parties, cadre parties can also benefit from large memberships. It
is easier for a large party to attract public attention (e.g. through politi-
cal rallies), and members help give parties political legitimacy – they are
proof that the party has support in society and ‘is rooted in the concerns
and values of real people’ (Seyd & Whiteley 2004: 361). The role of
members is particularly crucial during elections, when they provide par-
ties with legitimacy and electoral votes. Members represent secure votes

for the party, and a means of persuading non-members to vote for it. In
addition, as Seyd & Whiteley’s study of British political parties suggests,
membership is equally important when parties lose, since ‘in bad elec-
toral times the existence of a core of loyal supporters is essential to a
party’s survival and possible recovery’ (2004: 360).

Overview of the Book

To understand parties properly, we need to examine their operations at

the grass-roots level. In order to evaluate the progress towards institution-
alisation of the parties in post-Suharto Indonesia, I will examine in some
detail how and whether local branches perform their functions. In the
chapters ahead, I begin with general observations about how branches
perform their daily operations, then I will focus more concretely on how
the branches conduct recruitment and manage their memberships. The
book ends with an analysis of branches’ administration of local leader-
ship successions. By examining these aspects of party operations, I aim
to assess the state of these parties’ institutionalisation at the local level
and their contributions locally to Indonesia’s democratisation.
I focus on party branch organisation because aspects of branch activ-
ity such as daily administration and office management determine the
capacity of parties to give form to their programmes at the grass-roots.
While I also consider issues such as personalism, money politics and
local circumstances, I emphasise the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how parties op-
erate, as party organisation dictates how party activities and relation-
ships with members are conducted. Party management also determines
how parties deal with the public and connect with local communities.
Better connections with communities can mean greater political partici-
pation and better representation of the community’s political aspira-
tions, which are crucial to attempts by Indonesian reform-era parties to
differentiate themselves from the parties of the New Order.
By examining in detail internal party organisation during Indonesia’s
democratic transition, I also hope to shed additional light on how par-
ties attempt to build ‘stable roots’ (Mainwaring & Scully 1995). This
first close study of how party branches operate provides the basis for a
greater understanding of both contemporary grass-roots politics in
Indonesia and grass-roots political organisations generally. Although
there are disadvantages of applying theories developed from Western
studies to Indonesia, they are nonetheless useful because Indonesian
parties, and the international organisations that seek to influence their
development, are strongly influenced by Western political theory.
This book draws heavily on Kenneth Janda’s 1980 study on party or-
ganisation, which is a central work in comparative politics. Janda aimed

to expand the approach of Duverger’s classical Political Parties (1964),

using a comparative analysis to investigate the development of different
parties ‘where they are weak as well as where they are strong’ (1980: x).
Janda’s book sought to explain the phases of party operation in different
settings (1980: xi-xiii). Although my study is much less ambitious than
Janda’s monumental analysis of 158 parties in 50 countries, its overrid-
ing aim is similar – to capture, compare and understand how parties or-
ganise themselves.
Because of my focus on grass-roots political participation, I explore
only two of Janda’s clusters of concepts, ‘degree of organisation’ and
‘involvement’ (1980: chapters 9, 12). Unlike Janda’s study, which looks
at both internal and external factors that affect party organisation, I fo-
cus only on internal factors, while striving to provide detailed accounts
of parties’ local management practices. Instead of translating evalua-
tions of particular features of party organisation into numerical scores
like Janda, I adopt a qualitative approach in order to generate contex-
tualised findings. To gather information about party operations, I col-
lected data through both direct observation and interviews with grass-
roots members and party leaders. I then interpreted the data within a
structured comparative framework to determine the degree of specific
aspects of party organisation and development.
This book provides an in-depth consideration of the particular condi-
tions of Indonesia’s democratic transition and places grass-roots party
development squarely in the context of Indonesia’s political system. But
to enrich my analysis of grass-roots party dynamics, I also draw on oth-
er studies on party organisation, including Blondel (1978), Scarrow
(1996, 2005) and Appleton & Ward (1997). In particular, I adopt
Blondel’s (1978) elaboration of the requirements of party organisation
and Scarrow’s (1996) emphasis on the management of party member-
ship. I also utilise Appleton & Ward’s (1997) indications of the level of
innovation in parties.
The four parties this book examines include two legacy parties – Partai
Golkar (Golkar Party) and Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDIP,
Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle) – and two new parties – Partai
Amanat Nasional (PAN, National Mandate Party) and Partai Keadilan
Sejahtera (PKS, Prosperous Justice Party). Voting results for the four par-
ties in the 1999 and 2004 elections reveal variations at the three levels of
administration: the national level, in East Java, and in Malang (kodya/mu-
nicipality and kabupaten/regency).1 Despite a decline in support for it at
the national level, Partai Golkar increased its support in East Java between
the two elections. PDIP’s and PAN’s electoral support decreased at all three
levels. PDIP has maintained its influence in kodya and kabupaten Malang,
but support for the party has declined by 10 per cent or more in each
area. By contrast, PKS managed to increase its votes at all three levels.2

I chose to study Partai Golkar because as a former government-

backed party it still has strong influence nationally. PDIP was selected be-
cause it is an incumbent party with a strong reform image. PAN and PKS
were chosen because they are newer parties with opposing trends. PKS
gained popularity between the two elections, while the popularity of PAN
– despite leader Amien Rais’ pro-reform image – has declined. I elected
to exclude other important new parties, like Partai Demokrat (PD,
Democrat Party), because at the time of my fieldwork their institutional
histories were too short.
By drawing on both direct observations and interviews with party acti-
vists (members, cadres and local leaders), I have endeavoured to provide
a rich and nuanced study of these four parties’ organisation at the local
level, including a comparison of their kodya and kabupaten branches in
the Malang district. I conducted my fieldwork from August 2005 to
February 2006, when the parties were preparing to formulate an elec-
tion strategy at the local level in preparation for the next legislative elec-
tions in April and presidential elections in July 2009. I chose to do my
fieldwork between national elections in order to investigate the level of
their activities when they were least active. I elected to study the area of
Malang because Malang is Indonesia’s fourth-largest city and because
the area includes a significant rural (kabupaten/regency) population,
which is essential for capturing any possible differences between rural
and urban Indonesia. Malang is also ethnically and religiously diverse.
With a Muslim majority, it is known for its Christian seminary schools
and the influence of its Chinese population. With a total of 38 kecama-
tan (sub-districts), it boasts a socio-economically diverse population in a
wide range of occupations and also unemployment, which may influ-
ence people’s political aspirations.3
I conducted face-to-face interviews rather than using questionnaires
with party activists because personal interviews usually yield more spon-
taneous and detailed answers than questionnaires. I interviewed party
members, cadres and local leaders at the kodya, kabupaten and kecama-
tan levels to capture the diversity of the Malang community and the dif-
ferences between different levels of membership; such differences are
particularly crucial for data on member participation in parties and
party careers.4 Interviewees were selected randomly from membership
lists provided by the different branches of the parties. Though one dis-
advantage of personal interviews is that interviewees may have reserva-
tions about revealing their personal opinions to strangers, this risk was
minimised by conducting repeat interviews. However, the limited time
of the fieldwork period and the remoteness of the kecamatan restricted
the number of follow-up interviews with local leaders and members at
that level.5 I also engaged in personal observation of different aspects of

party organisation regularly throughout the fieldwork period and docu-

mented the ways in which the different branches operated in fieldnotes.
While this study examines how party organisations have evolved
since the beginning of the reform era, it is too early to tell how and
when these developments may affect voting patterns. Yet future re-
search should be able to determine the extent to which voting trends re-
flect parties’ levels of organisation, local activities, recruitment and
member management.
2 Genesis of Modern Political Organisation
in Indonesia

Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, once remarked that Indonesian po-

litical parties ‘grew like weeds with shallow roots’ and were ‘interest
top-heavy with petty-selfishness and vote-catching’ (1965: 265). From in-
dependence in 1945 until 1966, parties in Indonesia enjoyed post-
colonial freedom. The early part of this period was characterised by dy-
namic political participation at the grass-roots level, and freedom for
parties to pursue different ideologies. However, the period ended with
political repression triggered by Sukarno’s fear of parties’ growing
power. This period of transition, known as Demokrasi Terpimpin
(Guided Democracy), created the foundations for the political structures
of the New Order (1966-1998).
Shiraishi (1990) has argued that Indonesia’s early political parties
grew out of the mass movement, or pergerakan, of the first few decades
of the twentieth century. Sarekat Islam (Islamic Association, or SI), one
of Indonesia’s first political organisations, began as a trading association
in Central Java in 1912, but established a political party in 1917. The
Indies Social Democratic Association (Indische Sociaal-Democratische
Vereniging, or ISDV), which underwent a number of name changes,
eventually became the Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian
Communist Party, or PKI). It was established due to a close alliance and
support of Dutch Socialists. Organisationally, the SI and ISDV already
had many similarities with political parties, such as well-established
membership and leadership structures and financial arrangements.
Aside from these movements, ethnically or regionally based organisa-
tions such as Young Java, Young Sumatran Union, Young Pasundan,
Young Ambon, and Young Minahasa emerged in the 1910s with the
aim of revitalising specific cultures (Reeve 1985: 2). Meanwhile, the reli-
gious group Muhammadiyah was founded in 1912 as a counterbalance
against Dutch-initiated education and Christian missionaries (Reid
1974: 4). Conservative Muslims criticised Muhammadiyah for deviating
from Indonesian Islam and adopting Western ways, however, and the
more traditional Nahdatul Ulama (NU) was founded in 1926, as well as
other less influential regionally based Islamic organisations (Reid 1974:
5). The mass nature of these organisations helped the parties they be-
came establish strong membership bases.

Growing opposition to colonialism in the last few decades of the colo-

nial period before Indonesia’s 1945 independence created ideal condi-
tions for the growth of political parties. Indonesia experienced tremen-
dous growth in Western-style education in the 1920s (Reid 1974: 3),
which, mixed with resentment of economic obligations such as paying
taxes and rent in the midst of economic hardship, strengthened an
awareness of class hierarchy. This awareness enabled parties to mobilise
support, particularly among peasants (Shiraishi 1990: 302-307).
Recognising the danger of these political movements, the Dutch coloni-
alists decided to police them by implementing tougher regulations on
meetings and cadre-training courses, while restricting the operation of
their schools (Shiraishi 1990: 310-311). Meanwhile, the culture-based
youth organisations that emerged in the various regions such as
Sumatra, Sunda, Ambon and Minahasa, with the aim of revitalising
their own cultures, eventually developed a nationalist awareness; in
1928 most of them pledged loyalty to the concept of ‘one country, one
nation, one language’ (Reeve 1985: 2). This nationalist awareness be-
came the basis of subsequent political organisations’ platforms, which
focused on nationalism and campaigned against the unjust treatment
of Indonesians by the Dutch (Reeve 1985: 3).
The PKI revolted against the Dutch in 1926-1927. Although the revolt
failed, it brought about even greater awareness of Indonesian national-
ism. The new awareness was evidenced by the establishment of the
Partai Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Party, or PNI) in 1927,
and the emergence of two strong political leaders, Sukarno and Hatta,
along with a number of other significant figures associated with differ-
ent political groupings, such as Sutan Sjahrir, Amir Sjarifuddin and
Muhammad Thamrin. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942,
they encountered strong nationalist sentiment amongst the educated.
The opposition of political parties to the occupation was particularly
strong (Reid 1974: 9-13).
Independence was formally declared in 1945 upon the surrender of
the Japanese, though it was not fully achieved until 1949. Having chos-
en a democratic political system, the new government decided that po-
litical parties should be encouraged, and it allowed the establishment of
the reconstituted PKI (Anderson 1972: 176-178, 202-231). However, at
the very beginning of the independence period, parties had very little
influence in the country, and it was only after the government’s deci-
sion to empower the Syahrir cabinet in 1945 that the development of
parties began to accelerate (Anderson 1972: 200-201). Against the back-
drop of an ongoing military struggle against the Dutch, difficult eco-
nomic conditions, and the increasingly anti-Communist stance of the
government, the PKI launched another revolt against the central govern-
ment in 1948 (Feith 1962: 10-11). The turbulent events of this early

period were instrumental in determining the character of Indonesia’s

parties, moulding their orientations, structures and activities.
During the Old Order period (1945-1966), political parties were gen-
erally reliant for their growth and development on their capacity to at-
tract popular support, particularly in terms of achieving electoral suc-
cess. In order to establish themselves as national entities, it was crucial
for the parties to build organisations that could manage the relationship
between a central executive and branches scattered across the regions –
a challenging task given the geographic spread of Indonesia and its lim-
ited infrastructure. This was particularly important for mass-based par-
ties such as the PNI and the PKI. However, increasing interference from
the state undermined the grass-roots structures of the parties, as
President Sukarno, and later President Suharto, moved to assume much
stricter control of party activities and grass-roots political participation.
Sukarno was responsible for the beginning of the decline of the role
of the parties in the political order, particularly after the implementation
of Guided Democracy. But it was only after the 1971 elections that his
successor, Suharto, forced the parties to fuse together and placed strict
limits on their ideological freedom and ability to organise at the grass-
roots level. These rigid controls on grass-roots political participation cre-
ated an apathetic political culture, one that only the most dedicated po-
litical activists were prepared to challenge before Suharto’s resignation
in 1998.

Advantages and Challenges of Party Organisation after


Indonesia’s early parties and mass organisations developed platforms

and ideologies that represented different grass-roots aspirations. The
political parties of the early post-independence period could be differen-
tiated according to their aliran, or ideological leanings. Islam was repre-
sented by the Nahdatul Ulama (Islamic Scholars Association, or NU),
Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia (Islamic Association Party of Indonesia,
or PSII), and Majelis Syura Muslimin Indonesia (Consultative Council of
Indonesian Muslims, or Masyumi). Nationalism was represented by the
Partai Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Party, or PNI), Persatuan
Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesian Union, or PIR), and Partai
Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesian Party, or Parindra); Communism
by the Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI);
and socialism by the Partai Sosialis Indonesia (Indonesian Socialist
Party, or PSI). The prevalence of public resentment against the colonial
government created great opportunities for the parties to both attract
support based on ideologies (Mortimer 1969: 8-9) and foster grass-

roots mobilisation. Nonetheless, although parties existed at the village

level, effective party membership – and thus active participation – was
limited to specific areas and community groups (Feith 1971: 8). This
seriously restricted their ability to effectively channel societal interests.
Parties’ roles were still mainly restricted to the mobilisation of
masses, despite circumstances after independence conducive to political
organisations. While the drive to expand was strong and the popularity
of the parties was growing, they faced serious challenges in their at-
tempts to develop strong organisations at the local level. In general,
with the exception of PKI, party organisation was focused on the central
level; branches were set up but not developed further. Grass-roots sup-
porters were mobilised, yet there was little interaction with them be-
yond that, and local branches failed to develop effective systems for
member management (Feith 1971: 7-8). The branches demonstrated
very little independence and creativity, relying heavily on parties’ central
offices. In cases where branches had good resources, they tended to du-
plicate the activities of the central office, most notably by establishing
local party publications.

Party Organisation
Parties, as mass associations, were originally set up to attract members
by using an established set of activities and programmes. It should have
been easy, then, for the political movements in Indonesia at the time to
establish parties with strong grass-roots links. However, in practice
there were great difficulties developing functioning networks across the
regions. Parties were established during a time of struggle against the
Dutch colonisers, which was followed by a period of fierce inter-party ri-
valry. Parties had few resources – and little incentive – to develop their
local branches, resulting in weak branches and disoriented membership
management. As a result, parties’ organisational functions were concen-
trated at the central level, while local branches were left to develop with-
out central support. National politics absorbed most party attention and
the nurturing of grass-roots branches was half-hearted – except in the
case of the PKI, where local branches were set up for the sole purpose of
creating a widespread network. The parties’ branches tended to be inac-
tive after establishment.
Rocamora argues that Indonesian political parties in the period be-
fore the 1955 election lacked strong roots in society; they were ‘factions
within a definable national elite divided on the basis of more mundane
differences in personal experience and outlook’ (1973: 144). The parties
failed to harness public emotions to enhance their organisational devel-
opment. Feith (1971: 7-8, 28-29) argues that local branches were ineffec-
tive in both the revolutionary periods of 1945-1949 and 1950-1953. In

the first period, parties focused on the idea of ‘rally[ing] the peasantry’,
but ‘effective party membership remained a category unknown at the
village level’. In the second period, they concentrated on expanding
their influence in cities and at the district level, abandoning the sub-
district and village levels (Feith 1971: 8). Feith also argues that the role
of local branches was greatly overshadowed by the major parties’ occu-
pational sub-organisations (1971: 9-10). Geertz’s study on Indonesian
towns in the 1950s found a similar trend; in the town of Modjokuto
(Pare) the sub-organisations were successful in ‘binding the parties to
the local social system’ (1963: 13-14, 88). These sub-organisations – re-
placing the role of the local branches – created a link between the par-
ties and the community. Because of the effectiveness of the sub-organi-
sations in attracting and managing mass support, functions normally at-
tributed to branches were mostly conducted by them.
Given Indonesia’s size and diverse cultures, to be successful any or-
ganisation must have a strong presence across the country. The prog-
ress of the early political parties depended on their success in enlarging
their memberships, which in turn depended on how many branches
they established in different regions and how effectively those branches
operated. Since parties were still in their infancy – as PNI leaders had re-
alised by the mid-1950s (Rocamora 1970: 146) – expansion of party
membership became the clearest indicator of organisational success.
The demand for a large membership and the need to remain popular
forced parties at times to adjust their policies quickly to accommodate
public sentiments not in line with their original platforms. Yet despite
their willingness to do so, the Indonesian parties of the 1950s were not
able to establish active and extensive party organisations, with the excep-
tion of PKI. Parties focused on central politics while their national lead-
ers competed for public attention, but they paid little attention to the es-
tablishment of well-organised local branches, which were mainly super-
ficial structures.
PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party, which was later described as
‘one of the most important and innovative [parties] in the world’ and
the ‘first Communist party in Asia’ (Törnquist 1984: 2), was the most
successful and well-organised party at the time. Originally established
as the Indies Social Democratic Association (Indische Sociaal-
Democratische Vereniging, or ISDV), it then became the Perserikaten
Kommunis di India (Communist Association of the Indies) and was re-
named Partai Komunis Indonesia in 1920. The PKI’s Communist ideol-
ogy was aimed at establishing a ‘people’s democracy’ – a government
based on ‘the alliance of the workers and peasants under the leadership
of the working class’ (McVey 1965: 7-47). For the PKI, organisational
management was fundamental and its management strategies were
centralist (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 17). The

party had an extensive organisational structure, equipped with various

supporting bodies established at every level of the organisational hier-
archy (Van der Kroef 1965: 166). It had a Party Congress, a Central
Committee and a Party Conference at the national level. At each level of
local government it had a Major District Party organisation, a Major
District Party Conference and a Major District Committee. This struc-
ture was reproduced at lower administrative levels.
The PKI’s Central Committee (CC) had the authority to set up a party
administrative body, known as an Island Party Conference, in each of
Indonesia’s regions. Each of these bodies was administered by an
Island Committee. The committees were under the direct supervision
of either the Central Committee or a Major District Committee. The
Central Committee also decided which cities, towns or districts required
party conferences under the direct control of a Major District
Committee. The same pattern was repeated all the way down to party
units based in population centres, schools and workplaces (Central
Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 36-37).
The party’s smallest unit was the branch. It was specifically limited to
ten members at most. The PKI particularly encouraged and empowered
grass-roots support for the party, by authorising as few as three mem-
bers to set up the smallest branch of the party, which was called a
‘group’ or ‘basic party organisation’ (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 56).
The complexity of these arrangements demonstrates the extensive na-
ture of the party’s attempts to organise its grass-roots members and the
premium it placed on ensuring central authority over branch offices.
These measures also demonstrate the party’s emphasis on balancing
grass-roots participation and central office control. Its success is re-
flected in the fact that by the end of the 1950s only 1.3 per cent of 1,449
sub-districts and 15.8 per cent of 21,047 villages were without a branch
and that by 1959 there were around 22 Major District Committees and
Island Committees (Hindley 1966: 86, 115).
In addition to the hierarchical arrangement of its offices, the PKI had
tightly controlled administrative mechanisms, structured by very de-
tailed and specific regulations at each administrative level about the fre-
quency of meetings and the terms governing the election of new com-
mittee members (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954). The
PKI’s constitution regulated the power that different types of members
had in meetings and decision-making processes, with specific rights al-
located to ordinary and candidate members (the latter had applied for
membership but were still serving the waiting period imposed by the
party). The Central Committee had the ultimate power to decide the
number of voting delegates, but local offices could influence internal
decision-making. The National Party Congress was also influential in

the party’s daily operations. Its responsibilities ranged from the revision
and endorsement of Central Committee reports to the revision of the
party’s programme and constitution. Communication mechanisms be-
tween offices at different levels in the hierarchy were also stipulated in
detail. The lower party branch was expected to submit reports to a high-
er branch periodically. In return, the higher branch was responsible for
arranging elections in the lower branch, which included the duty of ad-
ministering a special election committee. Such specific rules provided
strict guidelines for the party’s operation and ensured close working re-
lationships between party branches at different levels.
The party’s financial management was equally successful. In fact, in
1966 the PKI was ‘indisputably the wealthiest political party in
Indonesia’ (Hindley 1966: 110). This success was due to its tight control
over party finances, which primarily came from member dues pegged
to members’ earning capacities (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 64). In addition, members holding party positions were
expected to hand over all their earnings in return for a regular stipend,
set by the respective party office. The PKI had regulations that deter-
mined the specific percentage and mechanism of income distribution
and designated offices that dealt with financial matters (McVey 1965:
157). This regulation of staff salaries reflects the depth of staff commit-
ment to the party. PKI’s financial arrangements also demonstrate the
strong control that the central office held over the party’s daily
The PNI, the Indonesian National Party, was first established in 1927
as a radical nationalist party by Sukarno, then a young engineering
graduate. The party was banned in 1930 (Feith & Castles 1970: 151-152),
but was re-established in Kediri, East Java, in 1946. This second incar-
nation began a period when the party was defined by opportunism and
conservatism (Rocamora 1970: 143). According to Rocamora, shifts in
PNI ideology can be traced back to 1948 and 1952. In 1948, at its third
congress, the party declared that it was based on the ‘principles of so-
cio-national-democracy,’ or Marhaenisme, which was a response to the
PKI’s increasing radicalism and its attraction of support from labour
(Rocamora 1974:126-129). At its sixth congress in 1952, the PNI declared
its Manifesto of Marhaenisme (Manifes Marhaenism) to be a ‘much
more restrained’ ideology, which ‘outlined a new line of emphasis on
economic anti-colonialism and support for national entrepreneurs’
(Rocamora 1974: 129-134). Marhaenism, Rocamora argued, was a strate-
gic move aimed mostly at capturing the widest possible support in or-
der to form a coalition government, ‘regardless of the incompatibility of
the components of such a coalition’. Hindley (1966: 236-239) and Feith
(1962: 243) note the PNI’s attempt in 1952 to approach PKI in order to
boost its nationalist profile. Between 1956 and 1959, however, PNI

stopped supporting the Communist PKI after losing the election to them
and formed an alliance with NU (the Islamic Scholars Association) and
Masyumi (the Consultative Council of Indonesian Muslims) (Rocamora
1973: 158; Törnquist 1984: 81). This shift showed how easily the party
changed its policies. Feith argues that the PNI’s unclear orientation was
rooted in its desire to retain the possibility of cooperation with the other
two major parties, Masyumi and PKI, despite their very different ideolo-
gies (1962: 243). Its opportunism was indicative of the party’s ideologi-
cal instability and its overemphasis on voting results and participation
in government.
Despite its opportunistic tendencies, or perhaps even because of
them, the PNI remained one of Indonesia’s most successful parties in
this period. Scholars have pointed out that although the PNI was per-
ceived to be dominated by Javanese aristocrats (Rocamora 1970: 143), it
managed to attract public interest as a new party offering nationalism
as an alternative to Islam, Christianity, or socialism. The PNI was suc-
cessful in attracting votes in the 1955 elections also partly because of
the popularity of its leaders (Rocamora 1973: 151, 154; Feith & Castles
1970: 153). At the same time, party members were successful in pene-
trating local bureaucracies. Together with the success of its recruitment
approaches, these strategies enabled the party to transform itself into
the largest in the country after the 1955 elections.
Organisationally, the party’s authority lay in its national congresses.
Between congresses, authority was vested in a Party Council composed
of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and at least fifteen members. The
Party Council had the power to elect a Central Leadership Council,
which controlled the formulation of party policy in consultation with
the Party Council and was in charge of day-to-day operations (Rocamora
1974: 140-141; Sjamsuddin 1984: 6-7). From the beginning in the
1960s, the party also established two bodies as adjuncts to the Central
Leadership Council: the Badan Musyawarah Front Marhaenis (Body of
Marhaenist Front Dialogue), which acted as a discussion group, and the
Badan Pembina Ideologi Marhaenisme (Body of Fostering Marhaenism
Ideology), which spread Marhaenist propaganda (Sjamsuddin 1984: 7-
10). At lower administrative levels, the party was represented by the
Dewan Pimpinan Daerah (Regional Leadership Council, or DPD) at the
provincial level and the Dewan Pimpinan Cabang (Branch Leadership
Council, or DPC) at the district and municipal levels (Sjamsuddin 1984:
10). However, because of constant amendments to the party constitu-
tion at national congresses, the PNI’s organisational structures were
rather chaotic during the period from 1946 to 1952.
Only after the 1952 congress were more genuine efforts made to
make improvements in party organisation, evidenced by stricter mem-
bership regulation and a major restructuring of the party’s central and

branch organisations. A three-month period of provisional membership

was instituted, and new members were obliged to pledge to follow deci-
sions made by the congress, DPP and Party Council. There were also re-
quirements for the Party Council to meet more frequently and the rein-
vigoration of local branches at levels higher than the district level.
These changes gave more influence to village-level branches.
Meanwhile reporting mechanisms to higher-level offices and criteria for
meeting delegates were made stricter (Rocamora 1974: 140-147).
Nonetheless, Rocamora noted that ‘PNI in fact never developed beyond a
collection of leaders engaged in capital-city politics plus a few govern-
ment officials and local leaders’, and that ‘except for a short period in
1946 and again in late 1949 and 1950, the national party leadership
spent very little time organising at the local level’ (1974: 140). Liddle’s
research in Sumatra between 1950 and 1964 suggests that local PNI
leaders gained influence through their efforts to build the party’s sup-
port base by recruiting cadres and members into the party from planta-
tion organisations of which they were in charge (1970: chapter 4). In
the early 1950s there was limited connection between local branches
and provincial and central offices (Rocamora 1970: 146): organisation
was ‘loose’ and party discipline was ‘lacking’ (Feith 1962: 139).
However, after 1953 local branches were recognised for their support in
electoral campaigns and therefore local leaders demanded greater power
(Rocamora 1973: 156). Reform was achieved by the establishment of the
Badan Pekerja Kongres (Congress Working Committee, or BPK), which es-
sentially gave decision-making power to local party leaders (Rocamora
1973: 157; 1974: 149). Thus, PNI’s growing popularity was also influ-
enced by its flexibility, willingness to listen to supporters and capacity to
adjust to popular demands. Decentralisation represented the party’s
rather tardy attempt to empower local branches, triggered by the need
to manage grass-roots support for election purposes.
Rather remarkably, party success was achieved despite inefficiencies
in the PNI’s financial management. The bulk of financial support for the
PNI came from businesses, while membership dues accounted only for
a small percentage of the party’s budget. The business community
made financial contributions in exchange for permits and loans from
PNI ministers in the cabinet at the time, which eventually prompted pro-
tests from local branches complaining of unfairness in profit sharing.
Only around 3 to 10 per cent of the central headquarters’ budget came
from membership fees (Rocamora 1974: 190). The party’s campaign
budget for the 1955 election shows that almost 70 per cent of funds
came from business contributors, while less than 14 per cent came
from membership dues (Rocamora 187-189). The way election funds
were used was also controversial, as the party directly paid village offi-
cials and even local strongmen to influence votes in its favour (Feith

1971: 28). Efforts to establish another stable source of funding led to

the establishment of the Yayasan Marhaenis (Marhaenist Foundation).
According to Sjamsuddin, the foundation was in charge of coordinating
fund-raising activities (1984: 9). Rocamora claims that the foundation
was set up ‘ostensibly for socio-economic purposes, but in reality [it
served] as a holding company to which the party transferred the owner-
ship and management of its investments and other properties for tax
purposes’ (1974: 191). Thus, the PNI’s financial management was inferi-
or to that of the more self-sufficient and well-managed PKI. PNI not only
abused its governmental position, but failed to establish secure sources
of funding.
Masyumi (Majelis Syuro Muslimin Indonesia, or Consultative
Council of Indonesian Muslim Associations) was the country’s largest
party in the early 1950s (Feith 1962: 134-135). It was established in 1945
by representatives of the majority of Islamic organisations as ‘the only
political party for Muslims’ (Noer 1987: 47). Masyumi is an example of
a successful Islamic party. It promoted Islamic law, but also exhibited
democratic practices in its operations. Masyumi explicitly adopted Islam
as its ideology and aimed to establish Islamic norms in Indonesian soci-
ety and the state, although it did not explicitly promote the imposition
of Syariah (Noer 1987: 118). Masyumi’s organisational structure clearly
separated its legislative body (held by its muktamar, or congress, and its
party council) from its executive (party chairperson) and advisory body
(majelis syura). In terms of local organisation, the party’s structure re-
flected Indonesia’s different levels of governmental administration:
daerah (provincial), kabupaten (district), kecamatan (sub-district) and
ranting (village-level branch). Connections between the local and central
branches were encouraged by the party, as demonstrated by the regula-
tion stipulating that each branch must have a local majelis syura, which
was represented on the central majelis syura. Meetings and decision-
making processes were also strictly regulated by the party constitution –
a feature of a well-managed organisation. But despite these regulations,
Masyumi had problems with its decision-making structure caused by its
status as an association of smaller Islamic organisations, particularly
since each issue had to be discussed within the individual organisations
(Noer 1987: 48-53). Feith notes that, apart from its Islamic political
ideology, the party had no policy to unite its constituent groups (1962:
134-135). Furthermore, its indirect membership structure meant that the
party relied heavily on the activities of its affiliated organisations at the
grass-roots and consequently members may have developed closer asso-
ciations with these organisations than with the party itself.
Despite its complicated organisational structure, the party was effec-
tive in managing its finances. Masyumi funded itself through collection
of members’ dues, as well as religious alms. Initiatives to expand party

funding, such as requiring members to ‘tithe’ a percentage of personal

income to the party or setting up a travel bureau for pilgrims to Mecca
(hajj), encountered hostility among party supporters who considered
these initiatives to contravene Islamic norms.
Although not a political party, the Dar’ul Islam movement provides a
useful comparison with political parties of this period. Despite its re-
gional base, Dar’ul Islam represented a serious ‘ideological and mili-
tary’ challenge to the young republic, since it effectively gathered sup-
port based on its objective of founding an Islamic state with strong mili-
tary backing (Reid 1974: 157). Liddle’s Political Participation in Modern
Indonesia includes the Dar’ul Islam movement as an important case
study of political organisation in Indonesia. The movement was consid-
ered successful in gathering support for its guerilla wars (1948-1949).
Methods used to maintain support for the movement ranged from
Islamic discourse to intimidation and terror, and its success depended
on coopting and intimidating village ‘headmen’ (Jackson 1980: 16).
With heavy dependence on the peasantry for resources, the movement
eventually resorted to violence, by robbery and by looting villages, to en-
sure the flow of funding (Dijk 1981: 103). Because of these measures,
even after significant losses Dar’ul Islam was able to quickly recruit
new members, regroup, and regain its strength (Jackson & Moeliono
1973: 13). Jackson & Moeliono’s research reveals that the movement
took the form of a highly organised military society, with a structured
civilian administration in the lower levels replicating its central govern-
ment (1973: 13). This informal civilian administrative structure was
formed by a network of traditional authority figures – village heads, reli-
gious teachers, economic teachers – who acted as advisors to common
people, under the clear authority of a leading figure (Jackson &
Moeliono: 1973: 22-35). Although not formalised in written law, this ad-
ministrative structure proved strong in villages, based as it was on tradi-
tional bonds between leaders and regular members, and it was effective
in mobilising the masses for the purposes of the movement.
As these case studies of successful political organisations suggest,
grass-roots management and participation was the key to ensuring party
growth in this period. Overall, parties’ central organisations were well-
managed and strictly regulated, with specific bodies having designated
roles in daily operations. However, branches generally became inactive
after their establishment as the result of a lack of organisational support
from above. Parties used the branches more as symbolic indications of
growth during election campaigns (Feith & Castles 1970: 8). As a result,
although central parties were successful in elections, their branches
were neglected. Party organisation was centred at the national level and
the management of branch operations was seriously neglected.

Party Activities
Despite their failure to develop effective grass-roots branch structures,
parties demonstrated remarkable focus in adhering to their platforms
when organising their activities. These activities were centred on organi-
sation-building, as well as raising public profiles. However, as they grew
and became more influential, parties developed programmes that ad-
dressed social issues, such as the livelihoods of the poor. The more suc-
cessful and organised an institution, the more significant its range of ac-
tivities. Mainly, these activities were designed to garner sympathy and
maintain support, largely in accordance with organisational platforms.
Nationalist struggle was the main theme of political activities imme-
diately after the 1945 declaration of independence. The followers of
Dar’ul Islam were devoutly religious. Jackson & Moeliono’s research de-
scribes Dar’ul Islam villages in West Java as traditional communities
with Javanese customs, such as hadjat. These communities also had
high regard for Islamic religious teachers (Jackson & Moeliono 1973:
36, 49). A similar trend was shown by the Partai Kristen Indonesia
(Indonesian Christian Party, or Parkindo). Formed in 1945, the party
immediately joined the struggle against the Japanese. At the time, the
party even had a People’s Army (Panah) Division, which complemented
various Christian youth and women’s groups with close connections to
the party. But various circumstances made it difficult for a Christian
party, or indeed religious parties in general, to develop; nationalism at-
tracted the greatest popular attention during this period. The Dar’ul
Islam rebellion and Parkindo’s participation in the struggle against the
Japanese both demonstrate these parties’ commitment to the new na-
tion and suggest that few other activities were feasible in a period of
armed struggle.
After the Dutch formally transferred power in 1949, parties were able
to shift their concentration to their internal organisation and develop a
repertoire of non-military activities to promote their causes. Education
and publishing were at the centre of PKI’s activities. The party had its
own publishing firm (Yayasan ‘Pembaruan’, or Renewal Foundation) in
Jakarta, and ‘half a dozen printing concerns and scores of booksellers
and retail outlets’ (van der Kroef 1965: 182-203), which were involved in
the party’s publications of periodicals, booklets, pamphlets and newspa-
pers (Hindley 1966: 116). PKI was active in translating Communist
books as well as publishing several party journals, including Kehidupan
Partai (Party Life), Bintang Merah (Red Star) and an English-language
periodical called Review of Indonesia. Most importantly, PKI published the
Harian Rakyat newspaper daily, which enjoyed a dramatic increase in
its circulation from 2,000 in 1951 to 15,000 in 1954 (Törnquist 1984:
77). By the late 1950s, the PKI’s regional organisations were also

successfully producing their own publications – for example, Suara

Ibukota (Jakarta), Warta Sunda (Bandung), Suara Persatuan (Semarang),
Buletin PKI Djawa Timur (Surabaya) and Lombok Bangun (Mataram)
(Hindley 1966: 93). PKI members working on plantations also spon-
sored regional publications to improve the party’s educational efforts
(McVey 1990: 11-12). All of these publications were crucial in promoting
the party’s ideology and programmes, and raised community awareness
of them. In support of its Communist ideology, PKI also established the
Universitas Rakyat (People’s University, or UNRA), which was intended
to extend party members’ knowledge of Communism (Hindley 1966:
94-95), but also included other general subjects in the curriculum. This
demonstrated its commitment to providing comprehensive education
programmes for its members. The size of its funding allocation to edu-
cation and publishing activities reflected the party’s priorities.
Another focus of the PKI’s activities was of course mass mobilisation,
which was realised through the party’s front groups. These included the
peasant front Barisan Tani Indonesia (Indonesian Farmers Front, or BTI),
the youth front Pemuda Rakyat (People’s Youth), the women’s front
Gerakan Wanita Indonesia (Indonesian Women’s Movement, or
Gerwani) and the labour front Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh
Indonesia (All Indonesian Central Labour Organisation, or SOBSI)
(Tornquist 1984: 74). The success and popularity of PKI’s front groups is
further evidenced by the capacity of the Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat’s
(League of People’s Culture, or LEKRA) to publish its own fortnightly
journal, Zaman Baru (New Era) (Foulcher 1986: 27). These groups
helped increase the party’s popularity partly by drawing in social inter-
est groups. The various protests against government policies conducted
by these groups were also important in boosting the PKI’s overall
The PNI added party publications and training programmes to its ac-
tivities in the 1950s. According to its annual reports, the PNI too was
very active in publishing. It had its own newspaper, Suluh Marhaen,
which was not only published nationally from Jakarta daily, but also had
local and provincial editions. Aside from the newspaper, PNI regularly
supplied other national media with news of internal party develop-
ments. The party also published books and brochures about its party
platform and ideology. Another party focus was cadre training,
although, as Rocamora notes, before 1960 the focus on cadre develop-
ment was little more than lip service (1973: 164). However, after 1960
the PNI’s cadre-training guide suggests that the party regularly con-
ducted cadre training (Partai Nasional Indonesia 1970). In addition to
giving public speeches for local cadres, party leaders presented papers
in response to invitations from universities or other educational institu-
tions. The range of activities conducted by the party in this later period

reflects its orientation towards enlarging its support base and spreading
its ideology.
In an effort to compete against PKI and Masyumi, PNI established sev-
eral sub-organisations. These included the Kesatuan Buruh Marhaenis
(Marhaenist Labourer Union, or KBM), Persatuan Tani Nasional
Indonesia (Indonesian National Farmers Union, or PETANI), and
Gerakan Nelayan Marhaenis (The Movement of Marhaenist Fishermen)
(PNI Massa Marhaen 1970: 11). The wide range of PNI’s sub-organisations
suggests the party had a strong focus on grass-roots mobilisation as well
as members’ training and development. These groups played a signifi-
cant role in attracting and sustaining support for the party. PNI’s attempt
to establish occupational sub-organisations reflects the significance of
this strategy for parties in general at the time and the relevance of these
sub-organisations to occupational interests.
Masyumi’s activities revolved around two main issues: the struggle
against the Dutch government and the promotion of its Islamic plat-
form. Masyumi chose to declare jihad (holy war) against colonialism by
establishing and strengthening its own militia groups, Hizbullah and
Sabilillah. At the same time, the party involved itself in government pol-
icymaking and diplomacy. Masyumi also actively campaigned against
Communism and for free elections, as well as for the improvement of
the education system and preservation of culture (Mahendra 1999: 85,
263-270). To promote and educate members on its party platforms, the
party published books and regular propaganda about its programmes.
These books included Kebudayaan Islam (Islamic Culture) and Falsafah
Perjuangan Islam (The Philosophy of Islamic Struggle). Masyumi’s mag-
azines and newspapers included Suara Partai Masyumi (The Voice of
the Masyumi Party) and Berita Masyumi (Masyumi News) (Samsuri
2004: 96-98). These activities show the party’s significant organisation-
al capacity and the importance of its strong, clear Islamic platform,
which served as the foundation for all of its activities.
Party activities usually intensified during election campaigns. In the
1955 election, Feith observes, the major parties’ campaign strategies
were based both on their relationships with each other and their stances
on particular issues. PKI used its election campaigns to strengthen its ac-
tivities and propaganda, as well as intensify its cadre training, while
government programmes designed to educate the electorate about the
election were used to promote PKI’s agenda (Hindley 1966: 219). PNI, PKI
and Masyumi used inter-party rivalry as a tactic to attract support, as
demonstrated by the verbal attacks commonly found in their campaign
speeches. Similarly, the issue of Communism was frequently used by
Masyumi to attack PKI.
However, beyond their campaign speeches, parties demonstrated di-
verse emphases in their campaign tactics. Masyumi preferred mass

rallies in provincial capitals and residencies. The party also made elec-
tion films, purchasing film units, amplifiers and recording equipment
to use in their production (Feith 1971: 22). PKI and PNI also used mass
rallies, but held them mostly at the district and sub-district levels.
These two parties argued that smaller meetings were more effective in
engaging participants and enabled parties to more easily ‘associate
themselves in the village voters’ minds with men and symbols of au-
thority already recognised by them’ (Feith 1971: 22). Another important
tactic involved the display of party symbols, with PKI and Masyumi mak-
ing substantial budget allocations for this purpose (Feith 1971: 26). The
prevalence of these various campaign tactics demonstrates the major
parties’ financial strength and fierce competition to attract grass-roots
electoral support. However, the parties’ concentration on campaigning
also reveals their preoccupation with election results rather than with
establishing deeper grass-roots connections.
In general, party activities during this period reflect the challenges of
the Indonesian revolutionary struggle of the late 1940s and the strong
inter-party competition of the early 1950s, which demanded the dedica-
tion of party resources for the 1955 election and beyond. As suggested,
the major parties were particularly effective in the realms of publishing
and education. Party publications were used as means of spreading
ideologies as well as educating and informing supporters about party
operations. Branches, sub-organisations and front groups also used
publishing activities to maintain contact with supporters, as was the
case for the PKI’s LEKRA front and the PNI’s local branches. However, the
range of the parties’ activities discussed here suggests they placed little
emphasis on direct interaction with their members.
PKI was the most effective of Indonesia’s parties in this period in
terms of publishing and education and the mobilisation of front groups
to build support against government policies. However, PKI, PNI and
Masyumi all relied heavily on grass-roots support, particularly during
election campaigns. Their mass mobilisations would not have been ef-
fective without massive grass-roots support and their publications would
have been pointless without readers. The parties’ heavy emphasis on
publishing also suggests a high priority on spreading their propaganda.

Recruitment Approaches
For the Old Order parties, recruitment was essential, as members con-
stituted a stable source of votes. The incentive to grow, particularly dur-
ing the 1955 election period, led parties to abandon their strict organisa-
tional rules and admit members without screening them. Ideology was
less important for attracting support than were party platforms, which
provided supporters with a more realistic indication of a party’s policy

orientation. However, in practice, party platforms could mean little to

potential supporters in comparison to other factors, such as the charis-
ma of party leaders. In fact, because their recruitment approaches fo-
cused on numbers, most parties tended to be opportunistic in their re-
cruitment. PKI, which was very strict in both its regulations and practi-
ces, is the exception to this generalisation.
PKI was nonetheless quite focused on enlarging its membership, as
shown by its successive membership drives. Its first membership drive
in 1952 was spurred by the party’s conviction that to recruit capable ca-
dres, the party had to become a ‘mass, nationwide machine’ that could
effectively penetrate society. When opposition to the emphasis on quan-
tity emerged within the party, defenders of the policy argued that ‘quan-
tity is necessary in order to achieve quality’, and claimed that the party’s
organisational practices were adequate to ensure effectiveness. Strict
membership requirements and the practice of criticism and self-
criticism were implemented to maximise effectiveness. By May 1952
the PKI had 100,000 members, and by March 1954 there were 165,206.
The success of the first membership drive encouraged the party to con-
duct a second in 1954, and by February 1956 the party had one million
members (Hindley 1966: 74, 80). PKI’s membership drives, the most in-
tensive undertaken by any party at the time, are illustrative of the value
that parties in general placed on building large memberships during
this period.
PKI’s recruitment strategy relied heavily on ideology and rigorous reg-
ulation. The party’s recruitment policies were based on the class status
of prospective members. Although the basic criterion was simply that
applicants had to be Indonesian citizens over 19 years of age, strict time
requirements governed an applicant’s progress from candidate to mem-
ber, depending on their ‘class origin’ (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 25-27). Peasants and other common people served the
shortest time before being awarded full member status. In contrast,
professionals and members of the national bourgeoisie experienced a
longer ‘waiting period’ – the longest being two years (Central Comite
Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 25-27). In addition to serving the wait-
ing period, these candidates needed endorsements from at least two
party members to be admitted. Membership requirements were stricter
for the higher class. Former executives from other parties who wished
to join PKI required endorsements from PKI members with at least five
years’ uninterrupted membership, as well as from higher party officers
(Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 25-27).
Another PKI strategy was to appeal to grass-roots interests through
protests against the government. PKI’s activities – heavily geared towards
gathering grass-roots support – may be considered a recruitment strat-
egy, as it was through rallies and other actions that common people had

the opportunity to connect with the party directly. The coordination of

opposition to unpopular government policies proved successful in rais-
ing support for PKI. Campaigns conducted by PKI front groups at the
grass-roots level acted as catalysts for interaction between the party and
its supporters. PKI cadres assisted peasants in establishing many kinds
of organisations (van der Kroef 1965: 195) and involved their members
in non-political activities such as ‘organising the sharing of agricultural
tools, arranging mutual assistance to hold feasts, build new water chan-
nels and help the victims of fires and floods’ (Feith 1962: 25). Wieringa
says that Gerwani (Indonesian Women’s Movement) ‘set up crèches,
gave literacy classes and cooking and sewing lessons, helped women in
their agricultural tasks and encouraged them to engage in non-farming
income-generating projects’. All of these activities were chosen upon
discussion with Gerwani’s members (1992: 106). From such interac-
tions, the PKI was able to create and strengthen its connections with the
community. Rallies and other protests were an opportunity to represent
the party as well as target specific issues, making it easier for peasants
and workers to identify with the party. In this way, the activities of front
groups served as an effective recruitment method for PKI.
Other organisations relied both on leaders’ charisma and the develop-
ment of party platforms that appealed to the public. Karim argues that
PNI’s association with Sukarno, and its leaders’ public profiles, were very
influential in its ability to gain support and sympathy (1983: 81).
Sukarno often spoke out against Islamic and other popular groups,
which bolstered his reputation and, by association, the party’s as an al-
ternative to religion-based politics. Sukarno’s habit of visiting villages al-
so contributed to PNI’s popularity. The prominence of ethnic Javanese,
including Sukarno himself, in party leadership positions was an impor-
tant factor in the party’s popularity as well. According to Karim, the
party’s popularity among Javanese was enhanced by the Javanese ten-
dency to follow their leaders (1983: 81).
PNI also used patronage as a recruitment method, which was opera-
tionalised through the bureaucracy and civil service. Village officials in-
strumental in maintaining local support for the party were given govern-
mental positions in return after party victory (Hindley 1966: 224; Feith
1962: 139). However, PNI failed to solidify its electoral support after the
1955 election; village officials either worked less to promote the party or
transferred their loyalty to PKI (Hindley 1966: 224-225). Rocamora
(1970: 147) has suggested that PNI’s reliance on patronage indicates that
it appealed more to people’s financial motivations than their ideological
commitment. Reliance on leaders’ charisma and patronage resulted in
opportunistic members and candidates with little loyalty to the party.
In Masyumi’s case, the widespread appeal of Islamic organisations
across Indonesia was instrumental in building a support base. The

party had strong support from local religious teachers. As Feith has
pointed out, Masyumi’s principal sources of support were trading
groups and increasingly powerful local religious leaders and Islamic
community figures, particularly in rural areas (1962: 137-138). The only
regions the party failed to penetrate were those populated with non-
Muslims, such as Bali and Flores, or those dominated by the rival NU.
At that time, many Muslims were drawn to the party’s Islamic image
(Noer 1987: 54-55; Feith 1962: 135). This image was enhanced by the
fact that the occupying Japanese had used Masyumi as a counterbalance
against Indonesian nationalism, giving Muslim leaders strong positions
that they used to mobilise the peasant masses (Reid 1974: 15).
Masyumi’s power was also boosted by its strong position in the
Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Islamic religion’s official recogni-
tion and sponsorship by the government (Feith 1962: 138). In short,
Masyumi relied heavily on Islam as its main asset for building support.
Like PKI and PNI, Masyumi had occupational sub-organisations, includ-
ing Sarikat Dagang Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic Trade
Association), Sarikat Tani Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic Farming
Association) and Sarikat Nelayan Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic
Fisherman Association) (Noer 1987: 56). It also had youth organisations
such as Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic Youth
Movement, or GPII) (Noer 1960: 48). In addition, the party had its own
militias as well as an armed support base within its youth organisations
(Mahendra 1999: 186-187). The party’s armies, Hizbullah and
Sabilillah, were an important source of party membership. Hizbullah
was an armed youth organisation set up during the Japanese occupation
controlled by Masyumi. Sabilillah was a similar armed organisation con-
sisting mainly of members of the older generation (Noer 1960: 47-48).
Among Indonesian parties, Masyumi’s membership was particularly
large, as it was the only party to permit indirect membership through
associate organisations. The party effectively attracted support through
its reliance on these organisations.
Hefner characterises Masyumi’s mass membership drives of 1945 as
evidence of open rivalry between Muslims and nationalists (1990: 198).
Masyumi’s recruitment mechanisms, however, were not supported by
adequate membership management systems. Furthermore, from the
early 1950s onwards, the complexity of Masyumi’s links with its affili-
ated organisations cast doubt on the party’s effectiveness in general,
which in turn led to internal pressure to introduce alternative party
structures. Eventually the party solved this linkage problem by decree-
ing that all links between members of the ‘Masyumi family’ were to be
‘coordinated’ and ‘arranged’ by the party (Noer 1960: 49). Masyumi’s
restructuring is a good example of the challenge faced by all major par-
ties in this period to balance their size with their management capacity.

In Masyumi’s case, the decision to centralise its structure underlines

the seriousness of its attempt to transfer decision-making authority to
the central office. This suggests that power-sharing with affiliates was
seen as a serious threat to organisational unity.
Again, Dar’ul Islam provides a useful point of comparison. Dar’ul
Islam attracted supporters mainly through its commitment to rebellion,
but also through promotion as a reward for ‘administration’ and ‘sol-
diery’ expanding the movement’s influence (Jackson 1980: 16). Its re-
cruitment approach relied on the organisation’s ability to relate to the
interests of potential recruits, while at the same time using force and
intimidation when cooperation was hard to obtain (Jackson 1980: 16;
Dijk 1981: 105). In most cases, it was the appeal of struggle against the
state – perceived as unjust and corrupt – that attracted followers to the
movement (Jackson & Moeliono 1973: 13). However, its ability to attract
followers also depended greatly on patron-client relationships in vil-
lages, where clients obeyed authority figures, and indeed would go to
war if told to do so (Liddle 1973: 13). The bond between patrons and cli-
ents at the village level acted as an effective recruitment mechanism for
Dar’ul Islam, enabling it to remain powerful in the face of sustained
military losses. This suggests that the Dar’ul Islam movement effec-
tively exploited religious beliefs and traditional systems of social obliga-
tion to maintain its membership.
Social and cultural factors, such as religion and patron-client influ-
ence, then, were instrumental in the recruitment policies of some of
the early political organisations in Indonesia. Traditional social and cul-
tural patterns were utilised by parties to attract new recruits. However,
recruitment was primarily focused on serving the parties during elec-
tions: the structures required to further manage members once re-
cruited were largely non-existent. Only PKI possessed aggressive recruit-
ment mechanisms. The other major parties relied more on circumstan-
tial advantages, such as leaders’ charisma and religion, to attract
support. Thus, despite an encouraging environment for political partici-
pation, most of the parties failed to develop the systematic structures
necessary to conduct one of a party’s most important functions –
namely, recruitment and maintenance of membership.

Motivation and Participation of Party Members

Despite the focus on votes, parties were generally effective in cultivating
members’ attachment to them, as indicated by mass turnouts for their
rallies. However, the degree of attachment and participation depended
on how radical the party was. For instance, Dar’ul Islam and PKI had
more-attached members and demanded more personal sacrifices of
them, such as requiring them to fight in a party militia (Dar’ul Islam),

study Communism (PKI), or participate in continuous recruitment

drives for new members (PKI). In contrast, PNI and Masyumi did not re-
quire their members to make such sacrifices, resulting in weaker mem-
ber attachment. Because Masyumi was based on Islam, though, its
members showed strict adherence to Islamic law. In the case of PNI,
while members’ loyalty to the party leader, Sukarno, was secure, their
loyalty to the party was weaker, given its opportunistic changes in plat-
form and alliances. Each Indonesian party had different priorities and
strategies to nurture members’ attachment and participation, and
broader party objectives influenced the degree of loyalty that parties
were able to inspire in their members.
Janda (cf. 1980: 126) argues that an individual’s willingness to partici-
pate in organisational life depends on his or her commitment to the or-
ganisation’s objectives. The more radical the organisation, the greater a
member’s attachment and involvement, and the more stringent the or-
ganisation’s membership policies, which ensure that only committed
individuals succeed in becoming members (cf. Janda 1980: 126).
Consequently, participation in parties and other organisations varies de-
pending on the nature of the organisation as much as the individual
member’s preferences. Janda’s analysis of the interaction between party
radicalism and member attachment explains why radical parties and or-
ganisations such as Dar’ul Islam and PKI enjoyed much stronger mem-
ber attachment, while PNI’s lack of ideological clarity and lax member-
ship policies resulted in less-attached members.
Followers of the Dar’ul Islam movement were motivated by a variety
of factors such as resentment against the army and a lack of socio-
economic opportunity post-independence (Dijk 1981: 340-396). Islam
had a strong influence, both as a religion and as the basis of power and
authority in the community. However, the movement had no intent to
proselytise, despite its Islamic ideology (Jackson 1980: 16-17). Also,
being santri did not protect one from intimidation or violence by mem-
bers of the Dar’ul Islam movement (Dijk 1980: 394). Patron-client rela-
tionships were influential in forming the basis of networks of relation-
ships among villagers; they also strengthened these networks and en-
sured their longevity. Other influential factors in people’s decisions to
join the Dar’ul Islam movement were the excitement of revolution, a
lack of post-revolution work for militia veterans, and a desire to obtain
public positions in the post-revolution period (Jackson & Moeliono
1973: 13-14). These three factors largely determined the strength of the
movement. The movement’s objective to establish an Islamic state at-
tracted supporters of other Islamic movements who considered them-
selves to be unjustly suppressed by the state. Patron-client relationships
encouraged the organisation’s followers to abide by its rules and believe
in its struggle. Villagers were willing to fight for their authority figures

as a way of showing loyalty or paying their debts to them. Leaders of

other Islamic organisations also encouraged their members to join the
Dar’ul Islam movement when they felt that they were no longer capable
of representing their members’ interests.
As a result of these factors, the movement gave birth to the strongest
rebellion in Indonesia’s recent history. It continued to attract new re-
cruits, shaping political participation among members of the local com-
munity of West Java. Although it had no formal structure or arrange-
ments, such as for due payments, the movement was successful in cre-
ating a common bond among followers, one strong enough to lead
them to make great sacrifices to achieve the movement’s objectives.
PKI’s strict management of its members reflected its commitment to
party ideology. PKI had very specific rules and regulations concerning
who and how members were admitted and treated in the party, as well
as how they should contribute to party development. Upon full mem-
bership, members were required to study Marxism and Leninism. They
were also required to have a deep understanding of party ideology and
be active, at least insofar as attending party trainings. Further, they were
expected to promote party unity, adhere to party regulations and remain
loyal to the party. Members demonstrated their commitment by ‘actively
taking part in party activities and faithfully executing party decisions’,
as well as by ‘overcoming feelings of complacency and conceit’ (Central
Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 22-24). Members were eval-
uated on their participation in party activities and payment of dues.
Failure to comply could result in immediate expulsion from the party.
As a result, party members were dedicated to the party and ready to be
mobilised when needed by the branches.
PKI’s organisational structure defined the specific tasks of party
branches. Special attention was paid to attracting more recruits. The
branches were instructed to ‘carry out propaganda and organisational
work among the masses’, ‘implement party decisions from above’, and
‘constantly pay heed to the sentiments and demands of the people by
reporting mass sentiment and by aiding the people to solve the prob-
lems themselves’. They were also instructed to ‘draw in new members’,
‘collect dues and exercise discipline’, and ‘organise members’ study and
disseminate party publications’ (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 57-59). The party made other specific demands on indi-
vidual members as well. They were expected to closely interact with the
community, explain party policies to the community and report develop-
ments to the party (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 23-
24). Another task of members was to secure contributors to the party;
these contributors did not need to be party members but reasonably
well-off. As van der Kroef argues, no Indonesian party cared for its
members nearly as passionately as PKI. The party believed that ‘there are

no stupid cadres and no bad cadres if they are well led and treated
justly’ (1965: 178-179).
In return for their loyalty and dedication, the party supported mem-
bers with relevant training. It also created mechanisms for better inter-
action between the party hierarchy and regular members. Members had
the right to vote, participate in discussions and publications and pro-
pose and criticise party decisions (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 24-25). Like the members of the PNI, PKI members faced
party sanctions for ‘improper conduct’, ranging from a warning to ex-
pulsion. There were specific rules governing who should institute sanc-
tions and who should approve them; usually a higher office was con-
sulted in each case (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954:
66-67). The detailed and specific tasks of members and branches re-
flected the party’s meticulous administration of its organisation, with
the results that members were well-versed in party doctrine and
branches were active and aggressive in recruitment.
In the PNI, members’ attachments to the party were unstable as a re-
sult of the party’s reliance on patronage and charismatic leadership and
the absence of stringent membership requirements. The party paid lit-
tle attention to the task of converting its electoral support into stable
membership (Hindley 1966: 224). Although specific social groups were
drawn to the party – namely, Indonesian aristocrats, civil servants and
white-collar workers – the PNI also attracted those who supported revolu-
tion per se without wishing to take a particular position on political is-
sues (Feith 1962: 143). Rocamora notes the weakness of the party’s
membership policies and argues that PNI’s popularity was actually due
to its failure to selectively screen new members (1970: 147). According
to Rocamora, there was a significant difference between members ad-
mitted before 1954 and those admitted later; members admitted before
1954 were more committed to a ‘political movement’, while those who
joined later were attracted to the party because it seemed ‘more and
more like a Western-style political machine’ (1970: 147).
In Masyumi, members’ levels of participation and attachment were
heavily influenced by the party’s organisational structure. Its system of
membership allowed individuals to be members of two different organi-
sations simultaneously, which could compromise their loyalty to either
one. Unlike PKI, which imposed strict organisational discipline,
Masyumi had a loose structure and its members’ discipline and attach-
ment could be directed towards affiliated organisations rather than the
party itself. However, the party’s strict adherence to Islamic law culti-
vated active participation in the party. Although loyalty to the party may
have been limited by its membership structure, the Islamic focus of
Masyumi and its sub-organisations catalysed attachment to the party
and participation in it. As Anderson notes, Masyumi had ‘no real rival

for its constituency’, and so was able to depend on a more general

sense of loyalty by individual Muslims to the community of the faithful
(ummah) (1972: 224). Hence, the loyalty felt by Masyumi’s members
was largely to Islam in general rather than the party in particular.
The various organisations discussed here had the capacity to create a
sense of attachment and belonging in their members, but differed in
their commitments to provide and monitor cadre training. Though PNI
had strong electoral support, it failed to strengthen its bonds with sup-
porters through membership mechanisms. In contrast, a strong give-
and-take existed between the PKI and its members, with the party taking
care of its members and expecting them to contribute to the party in re-
turn (a contribution that was monitored quite closely). In the case of
Masyumi, attachment to the party was, in effect, attachment to Islam,
which resulted in generally strong loyalty. However, Masyumi’s mem-
bership system allowing dual organisational membership meant that
the party had to compete with its affiliated organisations for members’
attachment. As individuals primarily joined the smaller affiliated organ-
isations, their attachment to Masyumi was indirect. Thus, although
emotional (PNI) and ideological (Masyumi) bases for party support were
strong, except for PKI, parties failed to nurture members’ attachment.

Party Career and Intra-party Democracy

It is difficult to trace the course of party career advancement by grass-
roots members in this early period of Indonesian parties. As indicated,
given Indonesia’s size it was difficult for the parties to maintain close
contact with all party branches and in most parties (with the exception of
PKI) central offices exerted limited control over branch management, in-
cluding members’ careers within the party. Parties were still developing
and therefore were forced to be creative and adaptable. Consequently,
regulations were often not strictly adhered to, and at times parties relied
on traditional patron-client relationships or social status to choose their
In Dar’ul Islam, patron-client patterns strongly influenced choice of
leadership. In this kind of traditional community, a leader’s status and
legitimacy was based on the high regard the community showed him.
Such community regard eventually propelled individuals into leadership
positions, aside from the specific reward system used to expand the
movement (Jackson 1980: 16, 197-202). Leaders’ legitimacy was mostly
based on their social status, including that gained as an inheritance
from parents. Status was usually linked to a leader’s familial connection
with an important figure, his religious knowledge as a kyai (religious
teacher), or a belief that he possessed mystical abilities, for example as
a dukun (traditional healer or sorcerer) (Jackson 1980: 127, 272-273;

Jackson & Moeliono 1973: 17). Education was also seen as an important
quality in a leader (Jackson 1980: 137-138). Leaders were obeyed out of
respect, but also out of a sense of hutang budi (debt of moral obligation).
Because of the overwhelming cultural power of patron-client patterns,
leaders were elected based on their religious and social status rather
than popular support per se.
PKI had specific career and leadership policies, as befitted its rigorous
organisational and membership management system. Party regulations
were consistent for each level of office. The PKI’s Central Committee
had the ultimate power in internal elections, and was elected by the
National Party Congress. Committee leaders were elected by their re-
spective regional or local party conferences and approved by the higher
office (for instance, a provincial leader needed approval of the central
office, and so on) (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954: 53-
54). The relevant party conference would set up an election commission
and administer it under the party regulations. Conditions for the nomi-
nation of candidates stipulated details such as length of service to the
party: the longer the service, the higher the position for which he or she
could be nominated. Although there were no membership levels stipu-
lated beyond candidate and full-member level, the party required candi-
dates to perform the duties of full members, but without having the
right to vote and give opinions (Central Comite Partai Komunis
Indonesia 1954: 29-30). The party reserved the right to extend or short-
en the membership waiting period depending on how individuals per-
formed their duties. If they were deemed to have failed to perform
them adequately, the party could nullify their waiting period and thus
deny them membership, upon consultation and deliberation within the
respective branches (Central Comite Partai Komunis Indonesia 1954:
30-33). In short, PKI’s party career mechanisms demonstrated the rigour
of its regulations and the extent to which local branches adhered to
them. In Simalungun/Siantar, Liddle says that there was a fairly strict
separation between the leadership of the party itself and that of the sub-
organisations, and that achievement in a sub-organisation did not nor-
mally lead to a position in the party (1970: 133). In this regard, party dis-
cipline in career promotion was higher in PKI than in PNI, where leaders
of sub-organisations could ‘upgrade’ their leadership to party leadership
(Liddle 1970: 129-131).
PNI had strict, detailed and comprehensive national guidelines for ca-
dre training and development. The party clearly defined which mem-
bers should be cadres, and gave each level of the party structure respon-
sibility for their own cadres. For instance, kader cabang (branch cadre)
were trained by the branches, and kader pusat (central cadre) by the cen-
tral office (PNI 1970: 1). PNI had two special groups of cadres, kader
umum (general cadres) and kader khusus (special cadres). These groups

differed in their purposes. General cadres received more general educa-

tion than special cadres, who were trained for specific tasks. Examples
of such special tasks included motivating sub-organisations associated
with the party, occupying specific divisional positions within the party
organisation and taking employment outside the party (PNI 1970: 2-6).
PNI had a reward system for cadres who performed extraordinarily well:
after special training, they received the title kader inti (core cadre). PNI al-
so had specific follow-up procedures to evaluate the personal perform-
ance of each cadre. This comprehensive evaluation included specific
sanctions to be applied in cases of misconduct, ranging from warnings
to expulsion (PNI 1970: 4-5).
In theory, PNI cadre management was regulated by the Departemen
Pembinaan Kader (Cadre Development Department) of each branch,
meaning that cadre training, evaluation and sanctioning were responsi-
bilities of each office. Each office had to report regularly to the central
office, which was responsible for developing training programme cur-
ricula. PNI’s administration of cadre management demonstrates the pri-
ority the party accorded to cadre development. But despite the existence
of these rigorous regulations, the party remained loosely organised
(Feith 1962: 139), and there was little contact between local, provincial
and central offices (Rocamora 1973: 156). Hence there was a lack of ef-
fort in nurturing and coordinating grass-roots support. As a result, party
discipline relied on the initiative of local leaders, without organisational
support from the centre. This lack of support brings into question
branch capacity and commitment to efficiently implementing cadre
management programmes. Indeed, as Rocamora suggests, an over-
whelming drive to expand led the party to recruit non-cadres and non-
members as local leaders (1973: 155). This indicates an abandonment of
intra-party democracy and the adoption of pragmatic strategies to
choose local leaders. Liddle’s research on party organisation in
Simalungun/Siantar in the 1960s found that, although elected, local PNI
leaders relied on their own efforts to enhance their party profile (1970:
131), reflecting the lack of organisational discipline in career promotion.
Attempting to establish as many local branches as possible, the party
sometimes forewent the luxury of cadre and member screening, in-
creasing the scope for regulatory violations.
As with PNI, Masyumi’s loose structure made it difficult for the party
to effectively nurture direct member attachment. In terms of member-
ship management, the party only acted as a supervisory body for its af-
filiates. The leadership dynamics in Masyumi suggest that the party was
centrally focused (Mahendra 1999; Noer 1987), relying on its affiliates
for party development and growth at the local level (Noer 1987: 55-58).
However, Mahendra’s study of Masyumi’s daily operations demon-
strates its adherence to democratic principles. To wit: the debating

practice conducted at the end of a chairperson’s term, where his or her

performance was evaluated by the party leadership (1999: 126-134).
Intra-party democratic principles were also seen in other party decision-
making practices (Mahendra 1999: 134-138). The party’s preference for
modern qualities is evident in the priority it placed on prospective lead-
ers’ religious maturity and Western-style education (Mahendra 1999:
144-145). Thus, despite the party’s failure to nurture and manage grass-
roots support through membership and leadership management, party
leadership was governed by progressive practices at the central level.
Overall, parties were forced to make compromises to accommodate
local conditions, regardless of the rules they had developed to govern
party career and leadership succession. These compromises are largely
explained by parties’ early stage of development. Individuals with ideo-
logical positions out of line with party platforms were often promoted
out of necessity; indeed, former membership of a rival party was not a
barrier to leadership promotion in some cases. This problem was partic-
ularly serious at the local level, indicating that although cadre develop-
ment and monitoring systems existed on paper, branches often resorted
to more expedient measures to manage leadership in the field. The key
to overcoming this type of decision-making pragmatism was better sup-
port from the central office, as demonstrated by PKI, and strict adher-
ence to party regulations, as shown by Masyumi’s central leadership.
Albeit for Masyumi only at the central level, in both parties, leadership
changes were heavily regulated and controlled by the central office, ena-
bling branches to organise the succession process smoothly.
In terms of party career, the regulated processes of leadership change
at the central level and the opportunistic practices at the local level were
often in conflict. But the parties had extensively documented systems
for central leadership change and were able to conduct such change in
orderly ways as well. For instance, PKI, PNI and Masyumi all adopted
democratic measures quite strictly in their decision-making, including
in leadership successions. However, while PKI and PNI both required
members to be committed to the party, the pressures of growth often
forced local branches of the PNI to adopt practical measures such as
electing candidates without proper screening. The early parties thus
were still facing difficulties in implementing national policies at the lo-
cal level.

Guided Democracy: Transition to Total Control

The establishment of Guided Democracy, which cemented the absolute

power of Sukarno as president, signalled the end of a period of political
dynamism in Indonesia. In Decline of Constitutional Democracy in

Indonesia, Feith describes the period between December 1949 and

March 1957 as a period of constitutional democracy, in which ‘parties
were of very great importance’, ‘civil liberties were rarely infringed’,
and ‘governments used coercion sparingly’ (1962: xi). However, these
same characteristics caused serious problems in maintaining stability,
with increasing conflicts evident between political leaders who also
acted as party officials (Feith 1962: 325). Political instability at the centre
was even more problematic for the nation as a whole, as it took place
against a backdrop of increasingly violent regional rebellions (Jackson
1980; Dijk 1981). Feith & Castles recall that conflict intensified during
the 1955 election and did not lessen afterwards (1970: 9). There was in-
tense rivalry between the four major parties – PNI, Masyumi, Nahdatul
Ulama (NU), and PKI – with ‘none of them having strong enough power
to govern alone’ (Reeve 1985: 108). Sukarno came to disapprove of the
civilian parliamentary system that precluded the armed forces from
playing political roles (Reeve 1985: 108) and permitted in-fighting and
inter-party conflicts. This system, in Sukarno’s view, represented a
Westernised ‘50 percent plus 1’ style of decision-making inappropriate
to Indonesia (Feith & Castles 1970: 9).
By late 1956 there was a growing conviction in the government that
‘political reorganisation’ was required and that parliamentary democracy
had been unsuccessful (Reeve 1985: 108). Frequent and rapid cabinet
changes ignited and strengthened Sukarno’s intention to ‘bury the par-
ties’ and adopt ‘Guided Democracy’.1 Guided Democracy was based on
Sukarno’s conviction that the solution to continued inter-party conflict
was the adoption of the principles of gotong royong (mutual assistance)
and musyarah untuk mufakat (deliberation to reach consensus) (Feith &
Castles 1970: 82). He insisted that this new system would create a form
of democracy that was suitable for Indonesia, based on collectivism and
family values (kekeluargaan) – a ‘democracy with leadership’ (Reeve
1985: 112, 116). Following his condemnation of the parties, Sukarno in-
troduced the concept of the ‘functional group’ in 1957, which aimed to
detach the occupation-based sub-organisations or organisasi massa (or-
mas, mass organisations) from the parties and put them under the lead-
ership of a newly established Dewan Nasional (National Council). The
Dewan Nasional stood alongside the cabinet to offer advice and sought
to serve as ‘a reflection of society in the same way as the cabinet will be
a reflection of parliament’ (Feith 1962: 542). However, after Sukarno’s
efforts to negotiate these changes with parties failed, he attempted to
‘bury’ the parties completely on 5 July 1959, when Guided Democracy
formally began.
Under Guided Democracy, opportunities for political participation
through parties changed dramatically, as party choices were now heavily
determined and limited by the state. This new system placed Sukarno

at the centre of power and severely restricted the parties, placing them
under close scrutiny by the armed forces (Feith 1962: 593). By 1959
party membership was under heavy government control. Aside from re-
quiring all parties to ‘accept and defend’ the national ideology and to
change their constitutions accordingly, they were subjected to strict
military control (Reeve 1985: 164; Feith 1962: 593). As a result,
although 28 parties had contested the 1955 election, by 1961 the num-
ber of parties operating under Guided Democracy had reduced to just
ten – PNI, NU, Partai Katolik (Catholic Party), Parkindo, Partai Indonesia
(Indonesian Party, or Partindo), Partai Murba, Partai Syarikat Islam
Indonesia (Islamic Association Party of Indonesia, or PSII), Ikatan
Pendukung Kemerdekaan Indonesia (League of Upholders of
Indonesian Independence, or IPKI), PKI and the Pergerakan Tarbiyah
Islamiyah (Islamic Educational Movement, or Perti) (Feith 1962: 593).
Masyumi and PSI were banned in 1960 because they were deemed to be
‘ideologically hostile to the president’ (Reeve 1985: 160).
At the same time, the concept of the functional group, which had
been in circulation since the 1920s, began to take on a more significant
role in Indonesian politics. The initial close relationship between the
parties and their occupational sub-organisations ultimately undermined
the future and freedom of parties. The functional group concept was
used to justify the severing of relationships between parties and sub-
organisations, a policy deemed to be essential to allow groups to con-
centrate on the improvement of the living conditions of their members
(Hadiz 1997). As a further attempt to empower and enlarge functional
groups, the armed forces were included alongside workers/employees,
farmers, national entrepreneurs, religious teachers, intellectuals, the
1945 generation, artists, women and youth. This allowed the armed
forces to take on a far greater civilian role (Reeve 1985: 125-126, 185-
By 1963 the government’s National Front2 contained ten parties and
241 functional groups, and in 1964 the functional groups formed a
joint secretariat known as Sekretariat Bersama Organisasi-organisasi
Golongan Karya Front Nasional (Joint Secretariat of Golkar Organisa-
tions within the National Front, or Sekber Golkar) (Reeve 1985: 243).
The core of Sekber Golkar was the Serikat Organisasi Karyawan Sosialis
Indonesia (Union of Indonesian Socialist Karyawan Organisations, or
SOKSI), which was anti-PKI (Reeve 1985: 191). By late 1969, the number
of Sekber Golkar’s sub-organisations had risen to 200, and in Novem-
ber 1969 they were clustered under seven parental bodies called KINO
(Kelompok Induk Organisasi/Mother Group of Organisations) (Hakim
1993: 40; Reeve 1985: 294). Growing in size and importance, this mass
organisation became a prominent player, whilst the parties became in-
creasingly irrelevant.

Scholars have pointed to the ‘repudiation of Western liberalism’ and

the ‘advocation of collectivistic democracy’ as important constructs of
Guided Democracy (Reeve 1985: 109). The ongoing cabinet crises of
the constitutional democracy period had provided a justification for
Sukarno’s rejection of a Westernised ‘50 percent plus 1’ style of democ-
racy. His determination to change the political system was manifested
in his stripping of politicians of their party affiliations to create the
Dewan Nasional (National Council). The promotion and empowerment
of functional groups and the institutionalisation of the kekeluargaan
(family) principle left parties even more debilitated and irrelevant.
Sukarno argued that his collectivist doctrine of democracy was more
Indonesian and thus more suitable than the previous system and im-
posed it through Guided Democracy, with himself at the centre of
power (Feith 196: 580). The various regulations and restrictions on
party operations signified the Sukarno government’s determination to
curb their influence in politics. Ongoing hostile sentiment towards
party politics, exacerbated by the 1965 alleged coup by the PKI, paved the
way for Suharto’s policies of ‘economic construction’ and ‘modernisa-
tion’ (Ward 1974: 1), which further undermined the role of parties and
ended political pluralism.
3 Diminishing Grass-roots Influence During
the New Order

After the attempted coup, allegedly by the PKI, in 1965, Suharto took
control and in 1966 he became Indonesia’s second president.1 During
the period of his administration, known as the New Order (1966-1998),
the operations and organisation of political parties changed dramati-
cally. As we have seen, Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, was respon-
sible for the beginning of the decline of the role of parties, particularly
after the implementation of Guided Democracy. But it was only after
the 1971 elections that his successor, Suharto, forced the parties to fuse
together and placed strict limits on their ideological freedom and ability
to organise at the grass-roots level. This increasing interference under-
mined the grass-roots structures of the parties.
Political participation was severely limited by government policies of
‘golkarisation’ and ‘de-partyisation’ through which Suharto continued
Sukarno’s efforts to limit the influence of political parties. These poli-
cies promoted the Army’s political role and Golkar’s growth, and the de-
velopment of anti-party and pro-Golkar doctrines (Reeve 1985: 265).
Upon coming to power, the Suharto government decided to support
Sekber Golkar (Sekretariat Bersama Golongan Karya, or Joint Secretariat
of Functional Groups), which became Golkar in 1971, as a response to
popular anti-party sentiment and as an attempt to capitalise on the or-
ganisation’s popularity. After winning the 1971 elections, the govern-
ment continued to use Golkar as its political vehicle,2 but forced the
nine remaining parties into two.3 The four Islamic parties – NU,
Parmusi (Partai Muslimin Indonesia, Indonesian Muslims Party), Perti,
PSII – were merged into Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (United
Development Party, or PPP). Also, the five Christian secular parties – PNI,
Partai Katolik, Parkindo, Partai Murba, and IPKI – merged into Partai
Demokrasi Indonesia (Indonesian Democratic Party, PDI) (Reeve 1985:
332). It was henceforth illegal to form any new political organisations.
The PPP and PDI were under strict control and suffered constant interfer-
ence from the government. As a result, they were dysfunctional at the
grass-roots: inactive outside the election period and powerless in the
parliament. As Samson observed, the New Order government’s intru-
sion into Indonesia’s political organisations meant that ‘political parties
were a negligible force’, merely ‘government-owned services adjusting

and reacting to the initiatives of ABRI and Golkar’ and – quoting a New
Order leader – ‘sparring partner[s] [ for Golkar] in the ring’ (1973: 132).
The Suharto government built a system ensuring Golkar’s repeated vic-
tories in elections and giving it significant freedom to operate.
Meanwhile strict regulations were imposed on PPP’s and PDI’s manage-
ment and operation.
The result of the processes of ‘golkarisation’ and ‘de-partyisation’ was
a party system disconnected from the grass-roots, one that also manipu-
lated and intimidated people at the grass-roots, thereby instilling politi-
cal apathy in large sections of the community (Reeve 1985: 264-265;
Gaffar 1992: 36-51). The structure of government during the New
Order was aimed at ensuring Golkar’s superiority as an electoral ve-
hicle, despite the government’s claim that it was not a political party.
The manipulation of Golkar’s status, in addition to constant meddling
from the government and the armed forces in both Golkar and the two
remaining political parties, enhanced Golkar’s strength. Golkar was the
only election competitor able to freely conduct campaign and recruit-
ment activities between elections. Meanwhile, the dysfunctional parties
– although enjoying popular support – were unable to harness that sup-
port to develop their organisations. The government maintained a ‘he-
gemonic party system’ through the use of a ‘repressive apparatus’ that
supported de-politicisation (Gaffar 1992: 36-49), voter manipulation
and control of the PPP and PDI (Liddle 1985: 83).

Party Organisation
Because of the severe restrictions placed on political activism during
this period, PPP’s and PDI’s organisations were superficial at the national
level, and just plain non-existent locally, while Golkar received signifi-
cant government support. While the PPP and PDI did have branches at
the municipal level, their presence there was merely symbolic, with no
active daily operations. The New Order regime made sure that the two
parties would not be able to grow by cutting their links with grass-roots
supporters through heavy-handed military intervention and the intro-
duction of the concept of the massa mengambang (floating mass). This
concept stipulated that rural masses remain ‘undisturbed’ by politics ex-
cept around election periods (Reeve 1985: 291).
Any discussion of party organisation during the New Order must em-
phasise the influence of the government and the Indonesian armed
forces on party life. Suharto himself played a strong personal role. As
president, his command of the army gave him the means to exert au-
thority over the political apparatus and the bureaucracy. His strategy in-
volved the establishment of numerous structures to control political ac-
tivities and prevent any threat to his ‘order’. These structures included

Badan Koordinasi Intelijen Negara (State Intelligence Coordinating

Agency, or BAKIN), Komando Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan dan
Ketertiban (Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and
Order, or KOPKAMTIB), Operasi Khusus (Special Operation Agency, or
OPSUS), and Direktorat Jenderal Masalah Sosial dan Politik (Directorate
General of Social and Political Affairs, or DIRJENSOSPOL) (Gaffar 1992:
38). Aside from these organisations, within the bureaucracy itself the
Department of Defence and Security (Departemen Pertahanan dan
Keamanan/Dephankam) exerted wide-spread command in each region-
al capital and was responsible for ‘vigilance against internal subversion
and many other activities on the borderline between military and civil-
ian government functions’ (Liddle 1985: 72). Through these organisa-
tions, political activities were strictly monitored, discouraging political
debate and limiting political participation.
The authority of the army, enhanced by the role of Suharto as presi-
dent and its significant role in the leadership of the apparatus of repres-
sion, was extended and institutionalised in other parts of government.
The New Order government justified the civilian role of the army, the
Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (Armed Forces of the
Republic of Indonesia, or ABRI), using the concept of dwifungsi (dual
function), which established it as both a military and sociopolitical force
(Crouch 1978: 24, 39). Under dwifungsi, ABRI was able to increase its in-
fluence in politics through its personnel, particularly by heading govern-
ment institutions and dominating state bureaucracy. Because of its
wide-spread influence on government bodies – which extended to lead-
ership positions – ABRI was able to establish control over political activ-
ities, including over the two remaining political parties and Golkar
(Nishihara 1972). In short, the organisations of all electoral contestants
were controlled by the government in its effort to ensure Golkar
The most basic and crucial of all forms of government intervention
during this period were the initial formation of the compressed New
Order parties; the forced adoption of Pancasila, the national ideology,
under the asas tunggal (single basis) policy; and the idea of the massa
mengambang. The ideological basis of the parties that became the PPP
and the PDI were undermined by their forced fusion and a simplified di-
chotomy between ‘material development’ in the case of the PDI and
‘spiritual development’ in the case of the PPP (Reeve 1985: 290). Once
the parties were fused together, the government took their ideological
dismantling a step further by forcing the PPP and PDI to adopt Pancasila
as their sole ideology under the asas tunggal policy, despite condemna-
tion from statesmen (Prawiranegara 1984).
Debates about the acceptability of the Pancasila ideology heightened
conflicts within the PPP (Hakim 1993: 52). As a result, the party faced

serious internal problems. The PPP’s popularity as evidenced in the

1982 election, when the party obtained 27.78 per cent of the vote (www., was considered a threat to the government, which had pro-
moted a close association between Islam and Pancasila (Hakim 1993:
75). However, the party suffered more internal discord when it aban-
doned Islam as an ideology, which spurred the withdrawal of support
by popular public figures in the 1987 election (1993: 76-95). The depar-
ture of NU, previously an important part of PPP, caused further damage
to PPP’s voter base; the NU’s penggembosan (literally, tyre flattening) cam-
paign encouraged its supporters to vote for Golkar instead, which
helped reduce PPP’s parliamentary seats from 94 in 1982 to 61 in 1987.
Meanwhile Golkar’s seats increased from 242 to 299 (Hakim 1993:
94). PPP’s organisational problems were a clear result of government in-
tervention, strategically conducted to minimise any threat to Golkar.
In the case of PDI, the government was initially successful in mini-
mising the influence of the PNI in the party. But, as Aspinall (2005: 172-
176) has argued, Sukarno’s Marhaenism – the ideology of helping the
‘little people’ (rakyat kecil) – remained relatively influential. The limita-
tions imposed on the use of Sukarno’s name in the party’s election
campaigns (Ward 1974: 14) suggest that the government feared his lin-
gering popularity. However, the legal requirement to adopt Pancasila as
its ideology provided the government with significant control over the
party’s activities and limited its ability to publicly invoke its nationalist
heritage. It was only in the early 1990s, with the resurgence of
Sukarno’s popularity, that the party was able to strongly exploit his cha-
risma, most notably by the appearance of his children at party rallies
(Aspinall 2005: 151; Liddle & Mallarangeng 1997: 168). As a result, the
party increased its national vote from 8 per cent in 1982 to 11 per cent
in 1987 (Komisi Pemilihan Umum 2004). But the New Order govern-
ment still exerted substantial control over the PDI.
As for the local organisational development of the fused parties, per-
haps the most influential aspect of the New Order’s approach was the
concept of the floating mass. This construct argued that mass-member-
ship parties had created national instability and that the masses should
concentrate on economic issues instead of political participation.4 The
architect of this policy, Suharto’s confidant Ali Murtopo, was the army
general assigned to guarantee that Golkar’s electoral performance was
‘effective’ (Crouch 1978: 266). Under this policy, student leaders and
other talented people were co-opted to join Golkar, while those deemed
potentially dangerous as enemies of the government were intimidated
and oppressed.
Theoretically, Golkar was subject to the same government regulations
that limited the two political parties’ grass-roots activities. But, in prac-
tice, it was treated quite differently.5 Under the floating mass doctrine,

the PPP and PDI were only permitted branches in district centres and
towns; any political activities at the community level were forbidden.6
In contrast, Golkar was permitted to work at the village level through its
many functional groups and government officials at all levels were auto-
matically deemed to be members of Golkar and KORPRI (Samson 1973:
133).7 To project some semblance of an image of fairness in its treat-
ment of Golkar and the two political parties, the government built offi-
ces for the three organisations, literally side by side in some cities.8
However, this did not mask the inequity of their situations and their
different capacities to function as political organisations. As Hansen
has noted, PPP and PDI opposed the government’s policy since it ‘opened
the rural hinterland to Golkar dominance and limited the other parties
to urban constituencies’ (1976: 149). Golkar’s success, as Liddle ob-
served, represented ‘the army’s mobilisation of civilian bureaucracy in-
cluding village officials’ and ‘the effective army-bureaucratic penetration
of the villages’ (1992: 448).
Similarly, there was a serious imbalance in government financial sup-
port for the two parties and Golkar. The PPP and PDI depended on small
government subsidies and membership dues alone, as businesses were
not interested in supporting them (Juoro 1998: 208). In contrast,
although Golkar’s constitution deemed that Golkar’s sources of funding
were membership dues, donations and ‘other undertakings’ (Anggaran
Dasar Golongan Karya 1973: 6), in practice the government ensured
that Golkar had access to substantial funding for its election campaigns.
The most important sources of this funding were the Yayasan Dana
Karya Abadi (Perpetual Work Fund Foundation, or Yayasan Dakab) and
donations from large businesses (Tomsa 2006: 47-48). Because Yayasan
Dakab was also a major stakeholder in large banks and companies asso-
ciated with Suharto, his family and cronies such as Liem Sioe Liong
(Robison & Hadiz 2004), Golkar’s funding resources were guaranteed.
Suharto’s other foundations, including Supersemar and Dharmais, also
provided large amounts of funding for Golkar, with no tax obligations
no less (Chalmers & Bourchier 1997).9 The arrangements made by
Suharto provided continuous funding support for Golkar, a significant
factor in the success of its campaigns, inevitably putting the PPP and PDI
at a disadvantage.
Yet, despite its favoured position, Golkar experienced the most severe
government meddling. The influence of the army (ABRI) was overwhelm-
ing, and perhaps inevitable given that ABRI had played a great role in the
establishment of Sekber Golkar, and because ‘organisationally’ Golkar
was ‘an amalgam of the armed forces and the civilian bureaucracy’
(Liddle 1988: 181). The closeness of Golkar and ABRI was institutional-
ised in the 1973 concept of Keluarga Besar Golkar (Golkar’s extended
family), consisting of ABRI, KORPRI and Golkar.10 Although the

relationship between these two organisations was frequently criticised

(see, for example, Institut Studi Arus Informasi 1996), the close con-
nection between ABRI and Golkar was repeatedly defended by invoking
the dwifungsi concept,11 and by the government’s claim that cooperation
was necessary to uphold Pancasila and the Indonesian Constitution of
1945. This close relationship meant that Golkar was not an independent
organisation and the government could justify interference in its inter-
nal affairs through its own close connection with the army.

Party Activities
During the New Order period, the sporadic nature of party activities re-
flected the government’s emphasis on elections and every possible
mechanism was put in place to ensure Golkar victories. Unlike Golkar’s
activities, the activities that the two parties could organise between elec-
tions were limited in size and variety. The bulk of their activities were
held around the election periods; outside these periods, the PPP and PDI
were effectively forced into hibernation due to the restrictions on their
grass-roots activities. The parties had to report to the authorities and get
their approval before they could organise an event, and they were only
permitted to hold social activities because the government decreed that
political activities could trigger conflict. Golkar was subject to a much
more lenient policy and given more freedom in its choices of activities
(Ward 1974: 14; Liddle 1988: 181; Liddle 1992: 448). This double stand-
ard denied PPP and PDI the chance to adequately engage with their mem-
bers or to fully develop their potential as parties by promoting
Party activities were also closely controlled in the lead-up to elections.
Regulations and policies affecting campaign activities reflected an ex-
tremely heavy-handed election policy, one shaped by fear of conflict, or
simply opposition, or, more importantly, the spectre of a Golkar loss. In
the first decade after taking power in 1966, the Suharto government
banned questions on the Pancasila ideology and the 1945 Constitution.
Criticism of the government was also banned. A three-day application
period was required to gain permission to hold meetings (Ward 1974:
14) and campaign materials had to be submitted for approval seven days
before a campaign event (Undang-undang Pemilihan Umum 1986,
Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia nomor 37 tahun 1990). At
the same time, the parties had to take care not to insult any religion or
group (golongan), and not to let campaigns become battlegrounds for
conflict or even comparison between organisations (Ward 1974: 14). In
addition, the length of campaigns was later shortened, from two
months in the 1971 and 1977 elections to 45 days for the 1987 election,
and then to only 25 days (Ward 1974: 14; Radi 1984: 141, 170; Liddle

1988: 181). These strict regulations were supplemented by intimidatory

practices, particularly the use of the armed forces for purported security
(Reeve 1985: 298).
As Golkar was not a ‘party’, the rules concerning inter-election activ-
ities and campaigning conveniently did not apply to it. It was thus freer
to choose its activities and organise its campaigns. The PPP and PDI pro-
tested after the 1971 election that government officials should not be al-
lowed to campaign; that the two parties should have the freedom to
nominate their candidates without government interference; and that
the armed forces should be more neutral. But the government insisted
that its measures were necessary to ‘guarantee the continuity of the
New Order struggle’ (Hansen 1975: 150-151). Golkar’s greater freedom
was substantially a result of its close relationship with the armed forces.
ABRI’s support for Golkar was most obvious during the elections, when
troops were assigned to maintain security. In practice, ABRI’s actions
during these periods extended to intimidation and coercion of voters to
support Golkar, as demonstrated in the 1971 election (see Nishihara
1972; Samson 1973: 127-128).
Because election periods were the only times that the PPP and PDI
could act more freely, they worked hard to utilise the opportunities
those periods presented to organise activities as effectively as they could
within the restrictions imposed by the government. However, organisa-
tional problems resulting from those restrictions affected the parties’ ca-
pacities to optimise their performances in election campaigns. For ex-
ample, a report about the election in the city of Pontianak in 1987 noted
that the parties were permitted a maximum of five mass rallies in the
lead-up to the election.12 During the campaign, the PPP conducted five
mass rallies, while Golkar and the PDI conducted five and three, respec-
tively. In the same period, the PPP and the PDI staged public performan-
ces twice, while Golkar staged thirteen. Also while Golkar conducted
public speeches (ceramah) fifteen times, the PDI did only twice. Golkar
also held bhakti sosial (literally, social contributions) four times (Kantor
Departemen Penerangan RI Kotamadya Pontianak 1987: 14-15). The PDI
was considerably more creative than PPP in its choices of campaign
methods and making full use of the pre-election period. For example,
the party’s strategy for the 1987 elections was to choose specific candi-
dates for relevant electorates – for instance, Muslim figures for Islamic
electorates and Chinese businessmen to attract support from the
Chinese community. Other PDI campaign methods included meetings,
long marches, leaflets and a ‘sympathy’ or ‘smile’ campaign, mainly in-
volving social work. The party also held carnivals for women supporters,
with decorated traditional vehicles (Sukamto et al. 1991: 4, 6). However,
the party’s declining popularity in the late 1980s presented difficulties
in recruiting enough people to be juru kampanye (jurkam, or campaign

persons), resulting in the cancellation of some of its scheduled rallies

(Sukamto et al. 1991: 7-8).
Although the election periods did present the parties with opportuni-
ties to promote themselves, it was challenging to maximise the use of
these periods within the government’s boundaries. The PPP was severely
challenged by the need to find an identity that appealed to voters after it
was forced to formally abandon Islam as its party ideology. Although
the party continued to use Islamic chants, it had to abandon its Ka’bah
symbol (Hakim 1993: 98) and adopted a star instead. In the 1987 elec-
tion, the PPP did not want to be seen as rebelling against the govern-
ment by continuing to use an overtly Islamic symbol, and it was cau-
tious about finding the right image that would appeal to supporters. As
a result, the party was unable to maximise its campaign opportunities
(Haris 1991: 111-117). A door-to-door campaign was substituted for mass
public rallies, which would have attracted far more attention (Haris
1991: 112). The PDI was more brazen in violating the government’s regu-
lations. In the 1992 election, the PDI gained a significant boost to its
popularity when outspoken campaigners, including two of Sukarno’s
children, Megawati and Guruh, and Kwik Kian Gie, a popular Chinese
entrepreneur, openly condemned Indonesia’s political conditions by say-
ing things like ‘our democracy is sick’, and likening the state to a ‘mon-
archy’ or ‘plutocracy’ (Aspinall 2005: 153).
In contrast to the parties, Golkar’s close relationship with the armed
forces meant that it had more freedom to organise activities both in
and outside election periods. Golkar made good use of these opportuni-
ties, organising robust campaigns for public support and leveraging the
loyalty of its sub-organisations to develop support. In the case of the
1971 election, these tactics ensured that Golkar had significant support
even before the campaign period began (Nishihara 1972; Ward 1974:
85). Nishihara has pointed out that in the 1971 election Golkar had fin-
ished its essential campaigning before the official campaign period had
even started, since the government election committee was dominated
by Golkar and military officials (Nishihara 1972: 3). The government set
up a special programme to educate parties about election practices,
called OPSUS (Operasi Khusus, or Special Operation), but it was misused
to reinforce Golkar’s position and to intervene in the parties’ conven-
tions, creating splits and chaos (Nishihara 1972: 21). Crouch has noted
that OPSUS was also used by the government to interfere in the internal
affairs of PNI (this was before the fusing of the parties) and other parties
in an attempt to minimise their chances of garnering support (1987:
265). An important part of the government’s attempt to ensure Golkar’s
victory in the 1971 election was the cooptation and coercion of former
PKI supporters, who were intimidated into switching their votes to
Golkar. The results were big wins in formerly PKI areas, particularly in

East Java (Ward 1974: 165; Crouch 1978: 268). Golkar was also given
more opportunities for holding mass-rallies; meanwhile the media air-
time of the parties was limited and their campaign speech texts were
subject to prior approval (Nishihara 1982: 34-35). Before the election,
Golkar set up a Bapilu (Badan Pengendalian Pemilihan Umum, or Body
for the Managing of Elections) that was especially aimed at helping
Golkar win by maximising votes from its sub-groups (Pandiangan
1996: 154). The concept karyawan, which was previously only used to
refer to civil servants, was extended to workers in 1980, further broad-
ening Golkar’s support base (Reeve 1990: 167-168).
Golkar’s various functional groups would usually declare their kebula-
tan tekad (unanimous endorsement) to support Golkar and Suharto just
before the elections (Vatikiotis 1998: 135). Golkar’s affiliated organisa-
tions such as Kokarmendagri vigorously campaigned for Golkar, argu-
ing that its victory was the only way to achieve development and eco-
nomic prosperity. Golkar’s sub-organisations attracted and strengthened
support from different social groups, from pedicab drivers to devout
Muslims. The influence of Kokarmendargi (which then became KORPRI),
as well as the activities of other professional associations, were crucial
in mobilising support for Golkar. Membership in these associations
meant automatically voting for Golkar as well; failure to comply could
result in a range of consequences, including dismissal from work and
difficulties in finding other jobs (Samson 1973: 133). Civil servants were
required to cast their votes in the workplace, further ensuring that they
would vote for Golkar since the government had forced state employees
to pledge their loyalty as well as their families’ loyalty only to Golkar
and declared that failure to vote for Golkar was a form of treason
(Rogers 1988: 261). As a result of Golkar’s close association with its
functional groups, their campaign activities could continue outside the
election period.
With all these measures in place, by 1997 Indonesian elections had
become ‘the most comprehensively engineered electoral process in the
world’, with institutionalised structural manipulation that ensured
Golkar would come out on top (Schiller 1999: 3). Yet Golkar also re-
ceived genuine support from voters because of its development ideol-
ogy, which appealed to the poverty-stricken nation (Samson 1973: 128).
The combination of voluntary and coerced support made Golkar’s victo-
ries a foregone conclusion and thus legitimated the government and
the influence of the armed forces (Samson 1973: 128). The mechanisms
promoting Golkar were maintained throughout the New Order and
were successful in sustaining public support for Golkar, and through it
support for the government.

Recruitment Approaches
The three New Order political organisations – Golkar, PPP, and PDI – had
rather similar membership regulations, with open membership and un-
demanding screening requirements. The PPP and Golkar simply re-
quired that potential members be at least 17 years of age or married,
and that they be literate and willing to participate in party activities
(Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Persatuan Pembangunan 1984: chap-
ter 1; Anggaran Rumah Tangga Golongan Karya: chapter 2). More spe-
cific requirements for written formal membership requests and willing-
ness to participate in party training were only added in later party stat-
utes (Anggaran Rumah Tangga Golkar 1988: chapter 1; Anggaran
Rumah Tangga Partai Persatuan Pembangunan 1994: chapter 1). Like
the PPP and Golkar, the PDI required that potential members be at least
17 years old (Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi Indonesia
1973: chapter 2). Initially, potential PDI members could be as young as
15 if they demonstrated a strong interest in political issues, but this
clause was deleted in a later statute and replaced by the requirement of
a formal written request (Anggaran Dasar Partai Demokrasi Indonesia
1989: chapter 6). All three organisations required that membership
registration be completed at a local branch. The PPP and PDI permitted
their branches to approve membership applications directly, whereas
Golkar required approval from the central office. Aside from these re-
quirements, there was no mention of specific recruitment methods or
strategies in any of the three organisations’ constitutions. Although
membership conditions and eligibility were clear, the inactivity of local
branches – enforced by the floating mass concept (Reeve 1985: 291) –
and the continuous political intimidation by the armed forces meant
that most of the regulations were not implemented. The result of the
government’s restrictions on political activity and the armed forces’ in-
timidation was that potential members were often apprehensive about
any form of political participation (Gaffar 1992: 38-40). The govern-
ment was thus able to effectively minimise the PPP’s and PDI’s attempts
to encourage party registration.
Because of these difficulties, the two parties concentrated on attract-
ing popular figures as their electoral candidates. Despite Golkar’s ob-
vious advantage of receiving government backing, which for its candi-
dates meant a much greater chance of winning and thereby obtaining a
governmental position, the other parties strived to field the best possible
candidates. The PPP and the PDI also focused on getting the most popular
public figures as juru kampanye (jurkam, or campaign spokespeople).
Before 1987, PPP had a popular Indonesian singer, Rhoma Irama, in its
jurkam team. The PPP also enjoyed strong endorsements from ‘eminent
Muslim leaders’ such as the former Masyumi leader Muhammad Natsir

and Nurcholish Madjid (Hakim 1993: 61). However, the party’s internal
conflict harmed the party’s image and consequently some of these fig-
ures left to join Golkar after the 1987 election (Haris 1991: 120). Both
PDI and Golkar benefited from the addition of former PPP supporters
who looked for an alternative to the continuing conflicts in the party
(Sukamto et al. 1991: 15; Liddle 1988: 182-183; Hakim 1993: 94).
The PDI’s success in increasing its popularity was a product of both its
own initiative and political conditions. In the 1987 election, the PDI re-
ceived endorsements from actors and other entertainers, as well as pop-
ular religious figures recruited to attract the Muslim vote (Sukamto et al.
1991: 5-6). However, its main recruiting asset was the party’s ability to
leverage the charisma of former President Sukarno. Initially the PDI had
been banned from using Sukarno’s name, but with the advent of the
government’s kerterbukaan (openness) campaign in the 1990s, the PDI
could once more publicly claim Sukarno. Sukarno’s children became the
centre of attention during the party’s public rallies for the 1987 elections,
luring back party supporters and drumming up nostalgia for Sukarno’s
heyday. When government support for Suryadi, failed to boost his cam-
paign, the PDI’s popularity continued to rise, and one of Sukarno’s chil-
dren, Megawati – despite blatant government oppression – assumed the
party leadership. The oppression aside, the PDI was able to exploit the
government’s openness campaign to use its main recruitment asset,
Sukarno and his children. Sukarno’s charisma was so strong that
Megawati’s aloofness was largely overlooked and she was associated with
her father very closely (Aspinall 2005: 164-165). Despite Megawati’s
famed aloofness, she attracted sympathy from Abdurrahman Wahid
(Gus Dur), head of NU, which significantly boosted her prospects as an
opposition leader (Liddle & Mallarangeng 1997: 168-169; Aspinall 2005:
167). The 1996 raid on PDI headquarters, although successful in ousting
Megawati (Liddle & Mallarangeng 1997: 171), reflected the party’s ca-
pacity for mass mobilisation (Aspinall 2005: 178).
At the grass-roots level, the PDI’s recruitment approach depended on
indirect membership. Although the party tried to promote direct indi-
vidual membership, in reality its membership and leadership were
drawn mainly from formerly affiliated organisations. In fact, these or-
ganisations – mainly inherited from the PNI – served as the primary
suppliers of grass-roots membership (Sukamto et al. 1991: 79).
However, because of the various restrictions imposed by the govern-
ment, grass-roots recruitment was hard to conduct effectively, and the
PDI had to rely on sympathisers’ emotional support without being able
to fully utilise that support in its activities.
Similarly, the PPP’s grass-roots recruitment was minimal. During the
18 years of Naro’s leadership, the party only held a national convention
(muktamar) twice (Haris 1991: 136). Although membership was open,

the party’s Islamic image provided an opportunity for the party to par-
ticularly attract Muslims. As Hakim has argued, the government’s con-
cept of floating mass, which stipulated that rural masses not be dis-
turbed by politics except in election periods, was ineffective when it
came to the PPP, particularly as the kyai-ulama (Islamic religious teach-
ers and scholars) in the rural areas had little regard for government reg-
ulations (1993: 55). The connection between kyai and ulama was based
on ‘unique dependence and obedience’ that was more powerful than
government regulations, and thus few supporters became alienated
from the PPP, at least until internal conflict erupted after 1977 (Hakim
1993: 55). However, the party had no specific mechanism for capitalis-
ing on this reserve of Islamic support, and although the PPP could es-
cape the floating mass policy, internal conflict eventually caused its
grass-roots support to dwindle, especially after NU stopped supporting
the party in 1984.
Although Golkar’s recruitment occurred automatically through mem-
bership in its affiliated associations initially, the organisation decided to
adopt individual membership provisions in 1983.13 By June 1988 Golkar
had issued over 26 million membership cards, and had nine million ca-
dres, each of whom had the task of recruiting six to seven votes for
Golkar.14 Even if its membership and cadre numbers were overstated,
Golkar’s extensive network of sub-groups at the local level ensured sub-
stantial membership and support. At the same time, Golkar had the
flexibility to adjust its policies significantly, something which the parties
were not able to do because of the strict regulations on political parties’
organisation. Around the 1990s, Golkar adapted its approach to express
a more Islamic tone in order to attract more Muslims. The move mim-
icked a number of Islam-friendly government policies, such as the pass-
ing of Islamic Court Law, which acknowledged the jurisdiction of the
Islamic court in some areas; allowing Muslim students in government
schools to wear a jilbab (female head-covering); the closing down of a
tabloid newspaper (Monitor) on publication of a blasphemous article;
the formation of Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim (the Indonesia/
Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association, or ICMI); and the establish-
ment of an Islamic bank (Suryadinata 1997: 194-195).15 The evolution of
Golkar’s recruitment approaches demonstrates the government’s prior-
ity to enlarge its support base, at the expense of the PPP and PDI.

Members’ Motivation and Participation

Government attempts to curb party operations were effective in ensur-
ing that the two parties could not develop proper connections with their
supporters. Due to passive and opportunistic recruitment approaches,
members’ attachments to the parties were either based on patronage or

near-blind loyalty, particularly because the PPP and PDI were not able to
cultivate and deepen members’ support through regular grass-roots ac-
tivities. Members’ participation in the parties was restricted to the cam-
paign period, while opportunities for deeper engagement were cut off,
as grass-roots branches were forced to be inactive by the government’s
policies. However, Golkar’s privileged position enabled it to provide its
members with material benefits that strengthened their attachment to
the organisation.
The undemanding membership requirements of the two parties also
did little to cultivate active involvement by their members. According to
the parties’ constitutions, the basic duties of members were to obey
party regulations and support party undertakings, while their rights in-
cluded the right to attend meetings and voice their opinions, vote for
leaders, and offer corrections and suggestions to the central leadership
(Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Persatuan Pembangunan 1984: chap-
ters 2-3; Anggaran Dasar Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1973: chapter 2).
Additional rights such as the right to attend party training, the right to
vote and be voted as party leaders, and the right to be protected and de-
fended by the party, as well as the duty to pay dues, were only added in
a later party constitutions (Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi
Indonesia 1989: chapter 3; Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Persatuan
Pembangunan 1994: chapter 2). But these party regulations meant little
since the PPP and PDI had no capacity to implement them in the absence
of functioning party mechanisms at the grass-roots.
In general, Golkar had similar regulations regarding the rights and
duties of members. But besides having to obey and carry out all organi-
sation decisions, members had to reject any move that could hurt the
organisation and to attend meetings (Anggaran Rumah Tangga
Golongan Karya 1973: chapter 3; Anggaran Rumah Tangga Golongan
Karya 1993: chapter 2). The rights of Golkar members included voicing
their opinions, voting and being voted as staff, and receiving protection,
cadre training and organisational skills from the organisation
(Anggaran Rumah Tangga Golongan Karya 1973: chapter 4; Anggaran
Rumah Tangga Golongan Karya 1993: chapter 3). Only Golkar required
its members to pay dues, before that requirement was added to the par-
ties’ constitutions, and it specifically identified cadre training as a mem-
ber’s right from the beginning of the New Order (Anggaran Rumah
Tangga Golongan Karya 1973: chapter 3; Anggaran Rumah Tangga
Golongan Karya 1993: chapter 2). Thus, only Golkar made concrete de-
mands from its members, but compensated by providing skills for
them. And only Golkar committed to developing processes for better in-
teraction with its members. The parties had little capacity to do so.
Generally, the only visible member participation in the parties oc-
curred during public rallies and the parties’ anniversary celebrations

(Sukamto et al. 1991; Haris 1991). Deeper involvement from members

was difficult to establish, as local branches at the sub-district level had
limited authority and capacity to schedule activities, making cadre train-
ing and members’ involvement in party meetings hard to organise.
However, conditions under the New Order created a sharp distinction
between participation and attachment, and despite their incapacity to
manage their members, both parties enjoyed strong loyalty from their
supporters. This was particularly clear in the passion shown by support-
ers of both the PPP and PDI in defending their parties. In the most vio-
lent campaign period during the New Order, there were ‘frequent
clashes between Golkar and PPP supporters’ (Eklof 1997: 1187). During
an incident on 27 July 1996, Megawati supporters were attacked by PDI
members who supported Suryadi, who was backed by the military and
the police. The loyalty of Megawati’s supporters was remarkable given
the intense intimidation and coercion used by the government. These
cases indicate that loyalty to the two parties could not be curbed by coer-
cion. It survived the limitations placed on the parties by the govern-
ment, and remained strong despite the absence of mechanisms through
which party members could regularly engage in party life.
In the case of Golkar, although coercion and intimidation helped en-
sure strong electoral turnout, its developmentalist ideology also gar-
nered support. Initially, Golkar had gained popularity as an alternative
form of political organisation (Reeve 1985: 298), taking advantage of
the parties’ negative images during previous governments, while pro-
moting the idea of improving national economic conditions (Reeve
1985: 263, 298-299). Throughout the New Order, economic growth
gave the government legitimacy and underpinned support for Golkar,
because Golkar victories ensured that development – and party patron-
age – would continue. Eventually, its success drew members mainly for
benefits such as ‘lucrative jobs in the bureaucracy and other affiliated
organisations’ (Tomsa 2006: 44). But attachment to Golkar was at times
also rooted in fear – for example, amongst the civil service, who had no
choice but to support it.

Party Career and Intra-party Democracy

Because of restrictions on the parties’ grass-roots operations, party ca-
reer dynamics mainly revolved around national leadership. At the na-
tional level, leadership was elected at a national convention, but the
election process for leadership at lower levels received much less atten-
tion from the parties, mostly because those lower levels were not signif-
icant under the government’s floating mass policy. As a result, within
the PPP and the PDI there was little prospect of meaningful regeneration
and extremely limited means of monitoring individuals’ career

advancement within the parties. Golkar was able to manage leadership

changes better and more regularly with the support of its sub-organisa-
tions and its influence in village bureaucracy (Ward 1974; Liddle 1992:
448; Sanit 1994: 33). Nonetheless, intra-party democracy was weak in
Among the three electoral contestants, only the PDI provided a formal
path for career progression through which it rewarded members’ com-
mitment with promotions.16 In this regard, PDI transferred the rigour of
its predecessor PNI in the formulation of its constitution. The party also
had specific eligibility requirements for leadership candidates
(Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1973: chapter 9;
Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1989: chapter 9).
The lack of formal mechanisms for career progression in the other or-
ganisations, particularly Golkar, indicated the low priority they accorded
to membership management; as an organisation, Golkar showed poor
organisational skills and low priority in nurturing members. Golkar’s
constitution included no particular regulations concerning progression
through different types of membership, except that leaders should be
elected by the congress at the relevant level (Anggaran Dasar Golongan
Karya 1973: chapter 9).
Organisational difficulties within the PPP caused severe problems at
both the national and local levels. The party consisted of different
Islamic groups, which were all influential and powerful, a situation that
had strong potential to create tensions, and indeed it spawned leader-
ship conflict at the national level (Hakim 1993: 76-95). As a result, party
leadership was dependent upon the party’s ability to compromise with
its affiliated Islamic organisations, including NU and Muslimin
Indonesia. This arrangement caused serious conflicts in the party after
the 1977 elections, highlighted by the tension between the leaders of
the PPP’s two major affiliates, NU and Muhammadiyah, which were two
of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisations. A feeling of desperation
developed within the party, resulting in a proposal by PPP officials in
1983 that Suharto become the Pembina Utama (Chief Advisor) of the
party (van Dijk 1984: 162-166). The proposal was outrageous given
Suharto’s position at that time as a leader of Golkar. This conflict under-
mined support for the PPP, especially when NU’s leader, K.H. Achmad
Siddiq, gave permission to NU members to vote for the PDI or Golkar,
claiming that there was no Islamic principle preventing them from
doing so (Romli 2006: 84). There were also serious problems within
the PPP at the local level. In 1984, the party released a document detail-
ing its internal problems and suggestions on how to overcome them. In
this document, it was admitted that the organisation was poorly man-
aged, and that there should be better financial systems and a more
stringent selection process for leaders at all levels of the party (Team

Perbaikan dan Pengendalian Operasional Posisi Partai 1984). In addi-

tion, the party’s approach to cadre training was unclear, and only after
witnessing how Golkar managed this matter did the PPP realise that it
would have to do the same (Haris 1991: 136).
Within the PDI, leadership change was based largely on those ele-
ments that initially built the party. For example, the position of chairper-
son was given to former PNI personnel because PNI was the major ele-
ment in PDI (Sukamto et al. 1991: 80). Other positions were given to
representatives of the smaller parties that had been fused into the PDI.
However, developments within the PDI from the late 1980s demon-
strated the extent of the government’s control of the party’s internal af-
fairs. The PDI had increased its share of the vote significantly in the
1987 and 1992 elections under the leadership of government-backed
Suryadi; then Sukarno’s daughter Megawati, who was already a member
of parliament, became party leader. Upon her election, the government
began harassing her, such as by rejecting her choice of provincial party
chair in East Java. An extraordinary congress under heavy military con-
trol was then held to re-elect Suryadi. Megawati’s supporters rejected
Suryadi’s re-election, and a bloody clash erupted between supporters of
both the candidates, resulting in a riot and looting on 27 July 1996
(Liddle & Mallarangeng 1997: 167).
As in the PPP, barriers to recruitment at the grass-roots level in the
PDI made it difficult for the party to apply a stringent policy on party re-
generation. As mentioned, the government’s ban on the establishment
of active branches prevented the two parties from tapping into their
grass-roots support. As a result, the PDI focused instead on electoral
campaigns and candidate recruitment. Thus, although there were
strong indications of loyal grass-roots support, most notably evidenced
by the support for Sukarno and the support from lower and middle
classes (Aspinall 2005: 174-176, 186), the party could not develop it fur-
ther. Aspinall suggests that grass-roots organisation was better managed
after Megawati assumed party leadership, as indicated by the competi-
tion at the grass-roots between ‘relatively independent but marginal
small entrepreneurs … and local party bosses’ (2005: 175). However,
there was a lack of structure for career promotion and a lack of organi-
sation in leadership succession; party cadres were identified by their oc-
cupations instead. In this regard, the PDI also failed to have a clear ca-
reer management system.
The strong loyalty to the parties at the grass-roots consequently failed
to translate into anything more than sporadic activity, which could not
be effectively channelled by the branches. Branch leadership was non-
existent and party career dynamics were focused on the national level
instead. The government’s interference was highly influential in the
parties’ leadership problems, as demonstrated by its rejection of

Megawati as the PDI’s elected leader. The strong grip of the government
on the parties at the central level ensured that the demands at the grass-
roots remained just that, demands, and the disconnected central party
leadership had no power to harness them.
Golkar had the advantage with regard to party career and other intra-
party procedures, as its better, more extensive organisation operated
more freely. Not only did Golkar’s extensive network of sub-organisa-
tions and favourable government regulations provide a steady supply of
members, but career development and leadership matters were con-
ducted in a top-down manner, under the influence of the bureaucracy
and the military. Most notably, interference from the army, ABRI, was very
clear in the party leadership. Many military figures held Golkar positions
since the close relationship between Golkar and ABRI allowed for the
transfer of personnel between the two entities, and most of the time dual
posts were allowed (Pandiangan 1996: 153). Military figures dominated
Golkar’s chairpersonship since its formation. Top posts in the national
council also were held by military personnel, as were branches down to
the district level (Pandiangan 1996: 34-35). Golkar’s DPD (Dewan
Pimpinan Daerah or Regional Leadership Council) was dominated by
ABRI figures, a clear example being L.B. Moerdani’s term, as he was
ABRI’s highest commander (Institut Studi Arus Informasi 1999: 13). Even
its sub-organisations were chaired by military men (Ward 1974: 26). But
the most significant example of dual leadership in ABRI and Golkar was
Suharto himself, who served both as Ketua Dewan Pembina Golkar (Head
of Golkar’s Advisory Council) and as Indonesian president, a position
whose incumbent automatically also held ABRI’s highest command.

Reformasi: Another Period of Transition

After the Thai currency collapsed in July 1997, the Asian region quickly
crumbled economically, as investors swiftly reassessed their business
risks in the region. The Asian economic crisis caused the Indonesian
rupiah to plummet against the USD and the banking sector to collapse.
The government’s inability to meet the International Monetary Fund’s
(IMF) conditions for assistance worsened the economic turmoil.
Meanwhile opposition to the government was gaining ground; some
parts of the elite began to support PDI’s Megawati (Aspinall 2005: 177-
238). By 1998 government promises of economic growth were no lon-
ger able to subdue demands for political change. A string of street pro-
tests led by students, met by a violent response and government killings
of students, clearly demonstrated the government’s inability to establish
order, and Suharto finally stepped down in May 1998. His departure
opened the door for dramatic change, and Habibie, his former deputy

and appointed successor, quickly declared significant changes to ap-

pease opposition forces. Thus began the era of reformasi (reform).
One of the most significant changes of the Habibie Interregnum was
the immediate removal of the government’s ban on the formation of po-
litical parties. As many as 145 parties quickly registered, ranging from
‘major’ parties such as the Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (National
Awakening Party, or PKB), with strong NU backing, to ‘obscure’ ones such
as the Partai Perempuan (Women’s Party, or PP) and Partai Aliansi
Rakyat Miskin Indonesia (Indonesian Poor People’s Alliance Party, or
PARMI) (Suryadinata 2002: 75). PDI and Golkar suffered most as a result of
this explosion of parties. The PDI splintered into at least five parties: the
PDI (led by Budi Hardjono), the PDI-Perjuangan (led by Megawati), the
Partai Nasional Indonesia-Massa Marhaen (Indonesian National Party-
Marhaenist Masses, or PNI-Massa Marhaen), the Partai Nasional
Indonesia-Front Marhaenis (Indonesian National Party-Marhaenist
Front, or PNI-Front Marhaenis), and the Partai Nasional Indonesia-Supeni
(Indonesian National Party-Supeni, or PNI-Supeni). All boasted a similar
bull’s head symbol.17 Golkar also broke apart into the Partai Golkar
(Golkar Party), Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan (Justice and Unity Party, or
PKP), and Partai Musyawarah Kekeluargaan Gotong Royong (Mutual
Assistance and Family-Oriented Deliberation Party, or Partai MKGR).
Islamic parties also sprouted forth, including the PKB, the Partai
Keadilan (Justice Party, or PK) – which later became Partai Keadilan
Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS) – as well as Partai
Kebangkitan Muslim Indonesia (Indonesian Muslim Awakening Party,
or Kami), Partai Ummat Islam (Islamic Community Party, or PUI), and
Partai Masyumi Baru (New Masyumi Party, or PMI). In addition, Amien
Rais, a pro-Reformasi figure closely associated with Muhammadiyah,
formed the nominally secular party, Partai Amanat Nasional (National
Mandate Party, or PAN) (Suryadinata 2002: 77-79, 85).
The Habibie government then restructured the election system and
set up a screening mechanism for the parties, which, in contrast to the
New Order’s system, forced them to demonstrate that they had local
branches as proof of their support base. The new system, regulated by
Law No. 3/1999, required parties to have branches in at least fourteen
provinces and fourteen districts/special regions. It also required them
to have established committees (pengurus) in more than half of the prov-
inces and in half of the districts and special regions (Undang-Undang
RI No. 2/1999: chapter 11). These requirements meant that only popular
parties could compete in the elections. More importantly, they high-
lighted the importance of having strong grass-roots connections for
maintaining popularity.18
In the 1999 election, of the 48 parties that met the requirements to
compete, 21 achieved parliamentary representation. The overwhelming

majority of seats were obtained by PDIP, Golkar, Partai Kebangkitan

Bangsa (National Awakening Party, or PKB), PPP, PAN and Partai Bulan
Bintang (Star Crescent Party, or PBB) (Komisi Pemilihan Umum 2004).
In the 2004 election, only the parties that had received more than 2 per
cent of the votes in the 1999 election were allowed to compete, forcing
the less popular parties to reorganise, as was the case with PKS. Among
the 24 parties contesting the 2004 election, Golkar was the top vote-
getter, followed by PDIP, PKB, Partai Demokrat (Democrat Party, or PD),
PKS and PAN (Komisi Pemilihan Umum 2004). Although there were
shifts in the major parties’ results between the two elections, the in-
cumbents demonstrated sustained popularity in each. At the same time,
some of the new parties showed signs of stabilising their support bases
and therefore must now be considered major parties.
Since reformasi, nominees for the position of president of Indonesia
have been ultimately determined by coalitions rather than the party with
the most votes in an election. Although PDIP performed extremely well
in the 1999 election, Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), the leader of PKB,
was elected president,19 and it was only after his impeachment that
Megawati began her term as president.20 In the 2004 election, although
Partai Golkar received the most votes, it was a candidate from a new
party, PD’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, that became president, and the
first directly elected one, despite predictions that Megawati would re-
main president (Sebastian 2004: 268-269). Because of these unpredict-
able developments, scholars have argued that ‘power-sharing arrange-
ments and coalition politics’ will have a continuing influence in nation-
al politics in Indonesia (Sebastian 2004: 256). At the same time,
despite having a reputation as ‘power-hungry, selfish, and corrupt’, the
parties remain the backbone of the political system in the post-Suharto
period (Tan 2002: 485). An electoral law that was passed in 1999
(Undang-Undang No. 22/1999) gave the parties even greater influence
in Indonesian politics. The regions were now able to conduct their own
elections of local leaders (pilkada/pemilihan kepala daerah), creating new
political ground for competition among the parties.
It was against this background that the political parties entered re-
form-era politics. As we will see, the parties have proven that they can
function at the national and local levels. Although they now have much
greater freedom than they had for several decades, none of the parties –
including the incumbents – and not even Golkar entered the post-
Suharto period with a well-established party organisation. This combi-
nation of circumstances has presented the parties with an unprece-
dented challenge, forcing them to move beyond merely attracting votes
to undertaking initiatives to develop and solidify their role as conduits
of political participation.
4 Party Organisation

The newfound freedom that followed the fall of Suharto in May of 1998
was a shock, a wake-up call, and a great opportunity for Indonesian po-
litical parties after a long period of slumber. In the vastly more open po-
litical climate of the era of reformasi, the parties – now numbering over
a hundred – were able to devote far more attention to organising at the
grass-roots. Indeed, the Habibie government’s electoral system required
them to demonstrate that they had local branches as evidence of public
support. In response, the parties developed different approaches to
branch office management. But, in general, management of local
branch offices relied more on the skills and initiatives of local leaders
than on the branches’ relationships with their central party offices. The
role of local party administrators was crucial in determining the effi-
ciency of the branches and their management, as were staff skills and
the swiftness of party responses to outside enquiries.
To fully grasp the situation of the Indonesian political parties in this
era, a discussion of party organisation more generally is helpful. In par-
ticular, it will be useful to understand what constitutes a well-organised
political party, and how the relationship between a central party office
and local branches can shape a party’s effectiveness.

Elements of Party Organisation

Political parties are, of course, not simply comprised of legislative mem-

bers and their support staff. Extra-parliamentary organisations are a cru-
cial element, as they can ‘facilitate or stifle political participation’
(Scarrow 1996: 11). In his cross-national study of party organisation,
Janda (1980) examined the array of party organs in 50 countries and
the management of the relationship between local and national bodies.
He argues that a well-organised party has an extensive organisation that
extends to the smallest unit at the local level. One example is Thailand’s
Democrat Party, whose supreme decision-making body encourages
members to set up branches among constituencies in areas with no
branches (Sejong Institute 2000). On the other hand, one of the weak-
nesses of South Korea’s New Democratic Party (NDP) in the late 1960s

was that while the party had branches among all constituencies, they
were closed outside the election periods. As in New Order Indonesia,
interaction with masses was thus limited to campaign periods (Han
1969: 463).
As Janda suggests, party organisation at the local level is pivotal in
the institutionalisation of a party (see also Mainwaring & Scully 1995).
However, there is little agreement about the specific variables that deter-
mine how organised a party is. Janda (1980: 98) defines ‘degree of or-
ganisation’ as the ‘complexity of regularised procedures for mobilising
and coordinating the efforts of party supporters in executing the party’s
strategy and tactics’. Dalton & Wattenberg (2000) argue that party or-
ganisation is most closely related to membership and member mobili-
sation in election campaigns. In The Handbook of Party Politics (2006),
party models or party types1 are considered an essential element of
party organisation. The Handbook suggests that member mobilisation is
an indication of a member’s utilisation by the party, but also considers
the administrative role of branches within the party structure and the is-
sue of branch administration.
For many scholars, strength of party organisation is strongly related
to membership. Blondel (1978: 137-140) emphasises the importance of
members. He presents four ‘ideal requirements of party organisation’.
A party should be ‘large’, he writes, as smallness can be identified with
failure, while a large party is seen as able to bring together a significant
proportion of a community. A party should also be ‘unified’ since a dis-
united party causes concern among supporters and leads to disrespect
by opponents. Blondel’s third prerequisite is that a party should be ‘dy-
namic’ – active, including by organising regular and frequent events to
influence society. The fourth condition for party organisation is that a
party should be ‘democratic’ and responsive to the views of its members;
this implies that parties need to listen to, value and try to realise mem-
bers’ wishes. All four of Blondel’s conditions demand solid organisation
of party membership. A large party needs to recruit and develop a
membership base; a united party is able to coordinate and manage its
members well; and a dynamic party can leverage its members to organ-
ise and execute various party activities.2 However, the role of members
is most influential in the fourth condition, that a party should be demo-
cratic: the party must accommodate their voices in its decision-making
Scarrow (1996) contends that party organisation and membership
management are key to achieving parties’ ultimate goal – to win elec-
tions. She argues that the need for party organisations initially emerged
from the development of party membership and that organisational ef-
forts are essentially aimed at managing a party’s relationship with its
members to obtain maximum results. Scarrow’s analysis of party

organisation in Europe begins with an examination of the costs and

benefits of enrolling members for the party, and concludes that mem-
bership is beneficial overall, despite declining party membership trig-
gered by the ‘levelling out’ of classes in society (1996: 8, chapter 2). In
light of the difficulties parties face in returning to the glory days of
mass membership, she contends that parties need to organise their
members more intensively. For instance, parties in Great Britain and
Germany have considered lowering registration requirements to attract
more members and have promised to give members more influence in
decision-making to spur deeper participation from inactive members
(Scarrow 1996: 157-160, 169-171).
These arguments suggest that successful parties not only need to
have branches, but those branches need to be active and organised.
Relations between central party structures and branch offices are impor-
tant here, specifically the control and support of the central offices. The
German parties described in Scarrow’s study have sophisticated organi-
sational structures that build on a mutually beneficial relationship be-
tween the state and regional party offices. The state office provides the
base for the regional office, while the regional office manages member-
ship arrangements, campaign activities and community outreach pro-
grammes for the benefit of the party (Scarrow 1996: 55, 126-128, 134-
143). Janda (1980: chapter 9) also stresses the relationship between cen-
tral and local party offices. He argues that well-organised parties tend to
be strongly centralised, so that regional and local bodies have clear guid-
ance from the central office, which, in turn, enables smooth implemen-
tation of party activities at the local level.
However, as Deschouwer (2006: 298) points out, the higher echelons
of a party must manage their relationships with branch offices carefully.
This is critical since local party branches play important roles in parties,
especially in election campaigns, where they are expected to organise lo-
cal campaigns, hold public rallies and distribute leaflets (Deschouwer
2006: 298). How well the branches manage these tasks is partly de-
pendent on guidance and support from the central office. Outside elec-
tion campaigns, local branches are required to carry out parties’ organ-
ising activities, manage recruitment and build support at the grass-roots
level. A high level of organisation within the branch office itself is key
to enabling the branch to effectively manage these different tasks. In ad-
dition to these larger tasks, branches have to manage the more adminis-
trative aspects of their operation, such as record-keeping. Scarrow
(1996: 66) and Janda (1980: chapter 9) argue that the ability to keep
track of important figures, such as on party membership, enables a
party to develop a better geographic and demographic knowledge of its
members. The same can be said about keeping records of party activ-
ities. Branches’ ability to maintain detailed and up-to-date records of

party activities can help them understand their current members better
and to design future activities to attract wider support, if needed. The
party branches examined in Scarrow’s study maintained contact with
their members by assigning special bodies to certain neighborhoods,
employing methods such as door-to-door dues collection (1996: 128-
129). Measures like these indicate a great emphasis on establishing and
managing close control over local support and membership.
Undoubtedly, parties need funding to operate, mainly for administra-
tion and organisation of events. Webb (1995) emphasises the impor-
tance of financial strength. Using the example of British parties, he sug-
gests that resources and the capacity to deploy those resources effec-
tively are two important indicators of organisational strength. In his
discussion of parties’ financial position and staffing, he contends that a
party that is able to sustain solid financial strength and have a professio-
nal internal organisation will be successful. For Janda (1980), financial
arrangements reflect the level of centralisation in the party, and so can
be used as an indicator of the relationship between local and national
party offices. A larger central office role in financial matters indicates
greater centralisation and thus a higher level of organisation (Janda
1980). South Korea’s NDP (New Democratic Party) offers evidence in
support of Janda’s argument. Yet the NDP’s financial weakness at the
central level was exacerbated, if not caused, by the absence of effective
branch-level organisation (Han 1969: 457).
Another significant aspect of party organisation is the physical condi-
tion of local administrative infrastructure. Szczerbiak (1999) points to
the importance of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of party organisational structure,
such as local offices, communication facilities and paid local party staff.
He observes that local party offices in Poland that have not functioned
in a ‘bureaucratic sense’ have generally been ‘single rooms fulfilling the
basic function of a meeting place’ without a telephone or other facilities
(Szczerbiak 1999: 529). Party branches rely on their employees, yet
party employees are ‘one of the most under-researched fields in the
study of political parties’ (Webb & Kolodny 2006: 337). How Parties
Organize (Katz & Mair 1994) discusses party staffing in different
Western democracies and examines the staffing arrangements chosen
by particular parties. The book’s contributors argue that advanced par-
ties demand skills and professionalism from their staffs, forcing the
parties to hire paid professionals, either permanently or to perform spe-
cific tasks during election periods.
Szczerbiak’s and Spirova’s studies of Central Europe develop argu-
ments about party organisation in post-authoritarian contexts
(Szczerbiak 1999; Spirova 2005). Like Indonesia, the countries involved
are considered new democracies. In his study of Poland, Szczerbiak in-
troduces an important difference between ‘old parties’ that survived the

transition from Communism and ‘new parties’ established after the fall
of Communism. Szczerbiak found that the new parties’ local offices
mostly did not function in the ‘bureaucratic sense’ since they often con-
sisted of a single room that served as a meeting place with limited com-
munication facilities and no paid employees. For these new parties,
membership dues are symbolic and play no significant role in party op-
erations, while central party offices only provide minimal and occasion-
al training sessions for party activists. In contrast, the old parties in
Poland enjoy better facilities because of their financial strength and
greater support from their central offices. Just as the older political par-
ties in Indonesia inherited resources from the New Order era, the older
parties in Poland inherited resources from the Communist era.
Spirova (2005) examines the development of party organisation in
Bulgaria. Her study focuses on membership size, the extensiveness of
party organisation at the local level, the ratio of members to paid profes-
sionals in parties, and the approaches of party leaders towards recruit-
ment and organisation-building. She found a positive correlation be-
tween the level of party organisation and success in building support
and management at the local level (Spirova 2005: 601-609). Like
Szczerbiak, Spirova argues that post-Communist parties tend to lack
strong organisational structures and have weak links with society. She
also asserts that parties in democratic transitional countries can follow a
different developmental path than Western parties – they might ‘leap-
frog’ stages in party organisation to reach current levels rather than rep-
licate Western trajectories (2005: 601-602). I seek to identify parallel
trends in Indonesia in order to determine whether the parties there are
building their local organisations sufficiently to manage grass-roots
It is important to identify a contemporary set of indicators of party or-
ganisation that can be applied in non-Western contexts. Appleton &
Ward (1997) present a set of indicators of organisational innovation, or
the ‘introduction of new structures and practices’, which they group in-
to personnel, finances, activities and physical resources. The indicators
for personnel include a clear division of labour and a shift from volun-
tary to paid staff. Financial indicators include fundraising techniques
and subvention formulas (how parties distribute funds across the differ-
ent levels of hierarchy). The indicators for activity include recruitment
and affiliations with other organisations. The important physical resour-
ces are the party headquarters, satellite offices and new technology,
since according to Appleton & Ward (1997: 353) the use of ‘computer or
communication systems’ represents an ‘organisational adaptation’.
In the following discussion of party administration at the grass-roots
level in Malang, Indonesia, I evaluate parties’ performances using these
indicators of organisational innovation. As I will show, local adminis-

tration depends on a party’s physical, financial and human resources.

When a local party branch boasts more organised administrative proc-
esses, it has a greater capacity to organise events and reach out to the
public. Better administration, in turn, is closely related to party profes-
sionalism. This study associates professionalism less with salary and
payroll than with the skills of the staff. Although incumbent parties
have the benefits of experience and existing offices, efficiency depends
more on a branch’s level of commitment and leadership. The younger
parties may lack experience, but they have the advantages of fresh per-
spectives and better technology-related skills. The different pathways
that the Indonesian parties have chosen have led to different levels of

Party Administration in Malang

Party administration at the local level is indicative of a party’s capacity to

fulfil its obligations to grass-roots members. Local branches are the first
real connection with a party that its members experience, which may re-
sult in a different picture of the party from the image that the party por-
trays in the media. The local branches of the four parties I examined –
Partai Golkar, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, Partai Amanat
Nasional, and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – had different administrative ar-
rangements, which resulted in different levels of efficiency in dealing
with administrative problems. There were differences among the parties
and between branches of the same party when it came to staffing and of-
fice administration, and in the level of connection between central and
local offices. Funding for the parties also varied and in some cases re-
flected the level of branch independence from the central office; but ex-
ternal donations were important to all of the parties’ finances.

Partai Golkar (Golkar Party)

Partai Golkar’s kodya (municipality) and kabupaten (regency) branches
in Malang had similar administration arrangements during my field-
work. In both offices, the party chose to have paid administrative staff
oversee daily operations. These secretaries had sufficient administrative
skills and experience, and received assistance from other office staff;
both offices were constantly open for members and outsiders. However,
the kodya leader demonstrated more initiative than the kabupaten leader
in maintaining a close relationship with the central office; the latter
leader was more occupied with his daytime job as Malang’s bupati (re-
gent). Consequently, the two offices had different administrative poli-
cies on the handling of requests and enquiries.

Partai Golkar’s local offices were generally well-organised and well-

supported financially. Administratively, Partai Golkar has benefited
heavily from the support of the former New Order government. Aside
from the extensiveness of the party’s sub-organisations, the party also
had property assets, which none of the other three parties examined
here possessed. At the time of my fieldwork, Partai Golkar owned its
kabupaten office and was trying to buy its kodya office. Although such
ownership has little to do with party organisation, it demonstrated the
party’s significant resources. Similarly, the party’s strong financial posi-
tion enabled it to employ a paid professional administrator in each of
its local branches.3 This arrangement has benefited the party by provid-
ing it with solid archive organisation and administration. Both the kodya
and kabupaten offices kept regular records of their operations, including
activities and memberships.
Partai Golkar’s kodya branch in Malang was located in an old house
that had been converted to an office. When I visited it, the office con-
sisted of meeting rooms and small offices for administrators. The office
manager was a paid staff member, who handled administrative matters,
including organising meeting schedules as well as the chairperson’s
personal schedule. The office archive was well-maintained, with detailed
records of activities and budgets, along with quarterly reports submitted
to the central office and an inventory of furniture and other party assets
in the building. Partai Golkar’s kodya office demonstrated solid manage-
ment and active interaction with the central office, as reflected by the
quarterly reporting of party activities to the central office. According to
the kodya chairperson, the regular reports and overall branch organisa-
tion were his personal initiatives, and the central office did not insist
on regular reporting from local offices.
Partai Golkar’s kabupaten office was a purpose-built two-storey build-
ing. It had several small offices for the administrators, as well as for the
chairperson, and a large hall on the upper floor which usually housed
meetings. Like the kodya office, the kabupaten office was administered
by paid staff members who maintained office records, including past
election results.4 However, in contrast to the kodya office, this office did
not submit reports to the central office despite maintaining good ar-
chives of party activities. The different practices I observed confirmed
the kodya chairperson’s argument that relationships with the central of-
fice depended on the personal initiative of individual branch chairs.
The two offices’ different relationships with the central office were re-
flected in the methods chosen by them for handling research interview
requests. Although the kodya office required permission from the cen-
tral office, the kabupaten office issued permission independently. In oth-
er words, although the kodya office was well-organised, it was reluctant
to make independent decisions on interview permission, while the

kabupaten office proved more willing to grant interviews without con-

sulting the central office.
Although both kodya and kabupaten were quite swift in their re-
sponses to external research queries in general, they had different proc-
esses there as well. The kodya office was insistent on central office per-
mission for all research-related enquiries, and when asked about con-
tact details for kecamatan (sub-district) leaders and activity records, the
chairperson refused to cooperate without such permission.5 In the end,
contact details for kecamatan leaders were obtained during party events,
with limited assistance from the office. In contrast, it was easy to obtain
updates on upcoming meetings and events from the kodya office, where
a small blackboard recorded the meetings and activities of the week.
There was no such arrangement for the kabupaten office, where updates
were only received by making weekly telephone calls. This difference re-
inforced my impression that each office had considerable independence
in managing its administration. At the same time, it also suggested a
level of incoherence in the policies of the different branches.
The two branches had similar arrangements for their finances.
Funding for Partai Golkar operation and activities, according to party
leaders, came from the regular budget of the central and provincial offi-
ces. The party also received money from fraksi6 members who were re-
quired to donate their salaries to the party. Nevertheless, donations
from party supporters were very important and party leaders emphas-
ised their gratitude to these loyal supporters. The reliance on donations
from sitting members and key supporters suggests that members’ dues
are a relatively insignificant source of party finances when compared
with these other sources.
Partai Golkar’s branches, although well-administered, did not use re-
cent technology. For instance, computer use was quite limited and of-
fice administrators still relied on manual typewriters. Office secretaries
thus typed official letters manually, just as they typed activity reports,
and they manually attached photos and other documentation related to
each activity.7 The offices were also not equipped with facsimile ma-
chines and communication was carried out mainly by telephone. But
party activists demonstrated a strong preference for the use of mobile
phones. Although they were the personal property of the individuals,
the phone numbers were easily passed around and they were used for
party purposes.8 The use of mobile phones was crucial for the kabupat-
en office, particularly because of the geographical size of the Malang
area. It was convenient for the office to get hold of members and cadres
on their mobile phones, since their occupations meant that they seldom
had access to a landline.9 Organising meetings and events became eas-
ier among cadres as a result of this technology, as cadres could easily
communicate among themselves. This suggests that the offices were

efficient despite the absence of computers and fax machines, and that
other technologies, specifically mobile phones, ensured that the
branches could operate effectively.
In sum, Partai Golkar branches were well-organised and the adminis-
trators proved able to successfully execute party activities, mainly be-
cause the party chose to have – and was able to afford – employed pro-
fessionals to run its local branches. Branches had freedom to determine
the nature of reporting mechanisms to the central office, which indi-
cates that while the central office does provide funding for the
branches, the latter retain independence to make their own decisions.
As the examples above demonstrate, control and supervision from the
central office depended upon the branch’s willingness to accede it and
was not strictly regulated.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Party

There were significant differences in the administration of the PDIP’s lo-
cal kodya and kabupaten offices in Malang. Although they had similar
arrangements in terms of their choices of administrators, they differed
in their levels of activity and their efficiency. The kabupaten office ad-
ministrator was more efficient, as evidenced by the regularity of branch
activities, while the kodya office was more erratic. The PDIP branches’
choices of office management and the characteristics of individual lead-
ers played the determining roles in deciding the degree of activity of
the branches. The fact that PDIP’s local branches were extremely inde-
pendent from the central office helps explain the stark differences be-
tween them.
The significant decentralisation of authority in PDIP extended to party
finances. The party claimed that there was a certain amount of money
given by the central office to local branches monthly, but it was spent
by the branches on daily administration expenses. This indicates that
support from the central office was insufficient. The problem was com-
pounded by the fact that membership dues were also miniscule and col-
lected irregularly. As a result, PDIP branches relied considerably on dona-
tions from local supporters to fund their activities. The insufficiency of
members’ dues can be explained by the facts that recruitment was not a
priority for the party and that party policy did not make dues obligatory
for members. As a result, the local branches relied primarily on outside
donors for funding.
The PDIP’s kodya and kabupaten administrators demonstrated different
approaches to office management. The erratic kodya office showed min-
imal organisational management, with the office administrator taking a
limited role in office administration, while the efficient kabupaten

administrator was more involved in party activities. PDIP’s predecessor,

PDI, had been one of the three political parties permitted to contest the
New Order elections and had been allocated kodya office space in a
small complex of offices assigned to these three parties. When I visited
it, the building had a small office for the kodya chairperson to use
whenever he visited, and a meeting hall in the middle. It functioned
both as the PDIP’s kodya office and the home of its office-administrator.10
The office was inactive most days, although the office staff, who were
also the branch administrators, lived there.11 The administrators were
essentially two loyal party supporters. They were paid by the party, but
had few administration skills. The office-bearers tended to the office up-
keep, but administration matters were handled by the office secretary,
who rarely visited the office. The office did not keep records of its activ-
ities and there was no mechanism for reporting to the central office.
The office-bearers did, however, maintain a membership database.
The kabupaten office was more active generally. The branch head-
quarters were located in an office building with a meeting hall and
small offices for the office administrator and chairperson. As in the ko-
dya office, the administrator was essentially a party activist paid by the
party. However, unlike her kodya counterparts, she did not live in the of-
fice, but was there during office hours and had the necessary adminis-
tration skills to handle outside enquiries. She also demonstrated better
awareness of party activities than the kodya office-bearers. The one as-
pect of branch operation that was standardised was the granting of re-
search interview permission. In contrast to Golkar, interviews at all PDIP
branches required permission, with the national leaders’ signatures,
from the central office. This standard procedure meant that one letter
could be used for all branches at the local level.
The power of official permission for interviews from the central of-
fice was respected by local leaders.12 However, my requests and enqui-
ries to the local offices were met with some delay in the kodya office.
The kabupaten office was swift in responding upon the production of a
permission letter, but kodya’s office-bearers only cooperated after insist-
ing that the office secretary be contacted first. Only after a number of
visits to the office and several telephone conversations with the office
secretary did the office-bearers agree to share their membership data-
base. Information on meetings and activities were also more difficult to
obtain from the kodya office.13 Thus, local bureaucracy in PDIP’s Malang
offices varied, with the kabupaten office being more active and
Although the kabupaten office was more active than the kodya office,
the latter was more technology-savvy. The kodya office-bearers main-
tained a membership database on a computer. However, the computer
was kept at the back of the office, suggesting that it was only used for

database purposes, not for overall office administration. At the kabupat-

en office, administration matters were handled using typewriters. When
asked for the contact details of kecamatan leaders, the administrators
handwrote the information – perhaps suggesting that even the type-
writer was not often used in the office. Telephone was the only way to
contact both offices, as no facsimiles were in use. As with Partai
Golkar, personal mobile phones were widely used among party activists.
However, it was more difficult to contact PDIP personnel than those of
the other parties. The PDIP leaders’ governmental duties14 occupied their
time more than party business, which came a distant second to their of-
ficial jobs. This situation meant the kodya office was less active. For the
kabupaten office, the office administrator, rather than the party leader,
was critical in maintaining daily operations.15
With the exception of handling research permissions, in the PDIP local
administration was left almost entirely to the discretion of branch man-
agers. The two Malang offices of PDIP chose their own party activists to
handle their administration, with the result that loyalty was given prior-
ity over skill; the kabupaten administrator had far better skills than her
counterpart in the kodya office. As with Partai Golkar, although the
branches received funding from the central office, external donations
comprised the larger part of the branch budget. Connections between
local branches and the PDIP central office were limited, as the branches
were very independent. Yet such independence can create inefficient

Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party)

As with PDIP, PAN’s central office delegated authority to its local offices
to manage their own administration. As a result, the branches also re-
ceived minimal support from the central office for their internal organi-
sation. Instead, PAN’s administration at the branch level depended on
the loyalty and dedication of the local leaders and cadres. The kodya of-
fice was run by its cadres and the kabupaten office by its leader; the offi-
ces were dependent on individuals’ willingness to sacrifice their time
for the party. The almost total devolution of responsibility and authority
had proven harmful to the efficiency of local operations, as the local
branch activists possessed insufficient administration skills.
PAN’s kodya office temporarily occupied the local assembly office at
the time of my fieldwork. When the cadres subsequently rented a new
office, they chose an old house, which they had to renovate before they
could move in.16 The old house had several small rooms that the cadres
planned to convert into offices and the living room was to function as a
meeting hall. Archive-keeping and other administrative matters were
chaotic at the temporary office, as the cadres, who were also the office

administrators, had lost track of where files were kept.17 The kabupaten
office was located in the kabupaten chairperson’s house, where he took
care of administration of the office in addition to his other duties.
Although the party had plans to move to a new, more ‘presentable’ of-
fice, moving presented difficulties since the kabupaten chairperson
would need more involvement from other members and cadres to man-
age a separate office. The length of time and problems associated with
finding new offices reflected the lack of assistance from the central
The freedom given to branches by the central PAN office also meant
that their responses to enquiries regarding research permissions were
inconsistent. The central office delegated authority to the local offices to
handle permission for research requests individually. In the case of the
kabupaten office, because the main administrator was the chairperson,
the process to obtain permission was straightforward. But it was a com-
plicated matter for the kodya office, which took a fairly long time to is-
sue the official letter.18
Despite its disorganised local administration, PAN showed a more co-
herent approach toward branch finances than PDIP. However, party poli-
cy did not oblige members to pay dues.19 Although branch offices had
some connection with the central level of the party regarding funding,
this was limited since funding for branch activities mainly came from
its cadres who held seats in the local assembly. Each legislative member
was required to donate 19 million rupiah per year to the party. The
party saw these donations as a symbol of loyalty. As with Partai Golkar
and PDIP, another source of funding was donations from supporters.
PAN’s reliance on donations from cadres reflected the priority the party
placed on recruiting capable cadres who could eventually be nominated
for governmental seats.
Both of PAN’s Malang offices had very minimal facilities. The kodya
office at the local assembly had quite limited space, which restricted the
use of various communication devices. A visit was the only way to con-
tact the office, since it had no telephone, facsimile or computer system.
Furthermore, without an appointment it was difficult to meet cadres
and leaders on site, as the party leader’s work in his official position at
the assembly made him difficult to meet and cadres were not always
available. The limited use of technology also made it difficult for the
branches to conduct daily operations effectively. The temporary kodya
office functioned more as a meeting place for the cadres than an office
because it lacked a proper office set-up. As the kabupaten office was lo-
cated in a residential house, communication facilities there depended
on the household’s arrangements. There was no facsimile or computer
in this office either and communication relied on the use of a tele-
phone. Contacting the office meant contacting the house, so the phone

was answered by the chairperson’s family members rather than party

office staff. The use of mobile phones was effective for the kabupaten
office, as there was only one person to contact – the chairperson him-
self. On the other hand, although personal mobile phone numbers were
easy to obtain for the kodya office, there was no clear division of labour
there and thus obtaining information from that office was frustrating.
Both the kodya and kabupaten offices proved inefficient as party offices.
Due to the inefficient administration arrangements, the branches’ re-
sponses to my research enquiries were slow. It took a few visits to the
local assembly office, as well as to the cadre houses, to find the relevant
personnel to ask for contact details for kecamatan leaders. After that it
took around five months to collect data because of the kodya office’s re-
location. It took only weeks to get the same data from the kabupaten of-
fice, because the chairperson was responsible for all administrative mat-
ters. But there was very limited information available on party activities
from either office. The kodya office was not functioning at all during its
relocation period, while the only activity the kabupaten office held was
its regular meetings. The absence of a permanent office for the kodya
branch confused the cadres about their duties, while the kabupaten of-
fice proved to be too dependent on one person.
That both PAN offices were administered by the local party leaders
and cadres, who were not professional administrators, contributed to
their administrative inefficiency. The cadres’ limited skills and the
drawn-out process of office relocation led to chaotic archive-keeping
and undependable responses to enquiries. This situation was exacer-
bated by a lack of support from the central level. The Malang branches
of PAN were dependent on the commitment of individual leaders and ca-
dres and their willingness to sacrifice their time, and in the kabupaten
office’s case the chairperson’s time, for the party. Without these individ-
uals’ dedication, PAN’s Malang branches would not have been able to

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party)

Although PKS Malang’s administration was also handled by cadres (who
were regular members), both local offices were extremely well-organised
and the branches were able to execute their programmes regularly.
Party bureaucracy was simple – as demonstrated by the swift response
to my research permission requests. The PKS’s procedure for handling
requests was straightforward and permission was granted in a short pe-
riod of time. PKS cadres were also helpful in providing opportunities to
meet with as many cadres as possible during their events. The cadres
were not paid by the party, yet they demonstrated dedication and will-
ingness to make sacrifices for the party, and had sufficient skills to

handle administration issues. Interaction with the central office was ad-
equate and well-structured, with local offices required to report their ac-
tivities to the central office regularly, while having the authority to make
their own administrative decisions.
PKS’s kodya office in Malang was located in a ruko
complex. The of-
fice set-up was minimal. It consisted of a large room divided by tempo-
rary dividers to create small offices for party staff. The kodya chairper-
son rarely visited the office; however, he was very hands-on with party
matters as he was always contactable. The office’s administration was
efficient, with a clear division of labour. The cadres in charge of the dif-
ferent matters were quick to respond to enquiries. PKS administration
was very efficient in handling enquiries even when they were made to
individual cadres, which shows the cadres’ ability and commitment.
The cadres maintained records of administrative matters, and coordina-
tion among the different divisions was well-organised.21 Although the
kodya office had to move from the ruko to a rented house, the kodya
branch’s activities were not disrupted by the move. The kabupaten office
was located in a house converted to an office. The living room func-
tioned as a meeting room, and the rooms were made into small offices
for the chairperson and the party staff who were also cadres.
Both offices kept records of their internal matters, which were re-
ported to the central office regularly in line with party regulations. The
regular reports kept the relationship with the central office active and
served as a mechanism to ensure that the local offices adhered to regu-
lations in the party constitution. However, control from the central of-
fice was balanced with the authority to decide and issue research per-
missions and party information locally. Both kodya and kabupaten staff
responded swiftly to research requests and the division of labour was
clear and efficient. The responsiveness of PKS was underpinned by the
willingness and capability of their cadres, who were always efficient in
responding without needing permission from the chairmen. Both
branches were proactive in providing updates on upcoming activities.
The cadres and leaders were eager to provide as much party informa-
tion as possible, and their bureaucracy and administrative system were
supportive of this aim. The relationship between local and central
offices in PKS seemed ideal, with an appropriate measure of de-
Similar coherence was shown in PKS’s financial management. In
terms of funding for its activities, party leaders explained that aside
from a regular budget from the central office, the party applied specific
rules, based on Islam, to determine what leaders and cadres should
contribute for the party’s advancement. Party officials and members
who held government offices were required to donate to the party
monthly, as were the cadres who held offices in local assemblies.

Ordinary members were encouraged to pay dues, although those dues

were not obligatory. The percentage of salary donated to the party was
calculated using a complicated formula, depending on the positions of
the leaders and cadres in a hierarchy. Party leaders proudly explained
that such regulations were strictly adhered to.22 This strict application
of the regulations further demonstrated PKS’s organisational efficiency.
Of the four parties examined here, PKS demonstrated the widest use of
computers in its branches. In both branches, correspondence was
handled by computer, and staff were accessible by telephone; the kabu-
paten office also had facsimile and e-mail facilities. The use of com-
puters in word-processing in particular allowed the office to issue official
letters faster.23 The kabupaten office’s cadres regularly accessed the office
e-mail account and responded to enquiries. Party leaders and cadres
were also contactable through their personal mobile phones. Although
party leaders were not always in the office,24 they oversaw office admin-
istration on a daily basis and gave instructions over the phone, thus sim-
plifying office bureaucracy. The use of mobile phones was extensive
among party cadres, as their numbers were listed in party leaflets for
use by the general public.25 The use of a combination of communication
methods was beneficial in creating a responsive party branch and, when
combined with the responsiveness of the office in general, made PKS the
most organised and agile of the parties in this study.
Like PDIP and PAN, PKS relied on its cadres for office administration.
However, PKS’s young cadres were considerably more capable of han-
dling local party administration, not least because they were far more
technology-savvy than the cadres of the other three parties. Extensive
use of computers and e-mails in the kabupaten office demonstrated the
branch’s embrace of innovation. The technological skills of the cadres
were beneficial especially for the local offices’ regularly reporting to the
central office. PKS proves the importance of keeping abreast of the latest
technology to maintain vibrant organisations.

Effects of Party Administration on Party Organisation

If the local offices and their staff are the ‘nuts and bolts’ (Szczerbiak
1999: 529) of a political party, then all four of the parties in this study,
at least at a basic level, are organised parties, since the very existence of
their branches shows that they have some local presence. The degree to
which they are organised internally, however, differs significantly. These
differences are demonstrated by their arrangements for local adminis-
tration and local staff, record-keeping and record-reporting mecha-
nisms, relationships with their central offices, financial support and
general efficiency.

The four parties showed different abilities to handle local administra-

tion. Three of them (PDIP, PKS and PAN) chose to have their own cadres
as local administrative staff. This arrangement guaranteed the loyalty of
the administrators, but produced different outcomes. With PDIP,
although branch office administrators were employed by the party to at-
tend to the office during business hours, they lacked the skills of pro-
fessional staff. The effectiveness of PDIP office personnel was also a
product of the different levels of activity in the different branches,
which was heavily influenced by the initiative of individual leaders. The
kabupaten administrator appeared more successful at managing the of-
fice, while the kodya office-bearers merely attended to the office, mak-
ing no significant contributions to office administration. In PAN, on the
other hand, the cadres were vital to the operation of the branches, since
both the kodya and kabupaten offices were temporary (one being at the
local assembly office, the other at the chairperson’s house) and the dedi-
cation of the cadres was the main element keeping the branches alive.
However, although PAN cadres in administrative positions possessed
some administrative skills, they were not paid and were not always
available at the party office. In contrast, PKS cadres in charge of adminis-
tration, who were also volunteers, had relevant skills and did their work
effectively and efficiently. The efficiency of administration of the PKS
branches showed that their young cadres were well-placed to support
the party chairperson and to ensure that party programmes ran
smoothly and all enquiries were handled properly. The fourth party,
Partai Golkar, enjoyed tremendous financial strength, which enabled it
to hire professional administrative staff. This arrangement proved effec-
tive and party branches were active and responsive to enquiries.
Although in general the four parties showed a clear division of la-
bour, with designated positions such as treasurer and secretary in their
offices, the efficiency of these arrangements varied. While PAN experi-
enced a lull in party activities due to its kodya office relocation, PKS man-
aged to maintain its activities while searching for a new office, which
suggests that PKS had a more efficient division of labour. And although
both PDIP branches had cadres as office administrators and office-
bearers, the kabupaten staff evidenced more effective interaction with
party leaders, who kept them abreast of party affairs, while the kodya
staff were ineffective. Partai Golkar’s staff were the only ones wearing
uniforms, which demonstrated their professionalism.26
The variations in party organisation were also shown by the different
arrangements for record-keeping in the branches. Partai Golkar and PKS
had well-managed record-keeping mechanisms, including for both
membership databases and party activities. PDIP, on the other hand, had
a membership database but no record of its activities. PAN had the most
disorganised record-keeping mechanisms, since the staff had

difficulties managing their archives as a result of the office move. Thus,

in this respect, PAN clearly lacked party organisation, while the other
three parties were well-managed.
This study demonstrates that party branches tend to be individually
organised, so much so that even two branches from the same party in
the same geographical region can have quite different administrative ar-
rangements. Although the central office provides the branch’s platform
and ideology, the branches can choose and adapt central policies to fit
local conditions. As we have seen, the local branches of each party had
quite different kinds of relationships with their respective central offi-
ces. Partai Golkar and PKS branches had the strongest connections with
their central offices, as demonstrated by their regular reporting to them.
These regular reports fostered better interaction with the central office
and ensured communication between the branch offices. However,
there were variations between these two parties as well. PKS had an offi-
cial requirement that the district branches report to the central office,
while in Partai Golkar the operation of the kodya office demonstrated
that an individual leader (in this case the chairperson) could be instru-
mental in creating a formal reporting mechanism, which may not be
adopted by other branches. In short, PKS had a more structured relation-
ship between its branches and its central office.
In contrast, PAN’s and PDIP’s branches had no active relationships with
their central offices. PAN’s branches received no assistance when facing
difficulties managing local administration. The same applied to the
PDIP’s kodya branch, where the central office had not intervened even
though the branch office was inactive most of the time. Central offices
thus have different approaches towards their branches. Some have
more interest in making sure that the branches operate properly, while
others do not perceive it as a party priority.
There were also differences in the way the parties administered their
websites, another indication of the level of party organisation. PKS and
Partai Golkar were the only ones with national websites, which supports
my general findings that they were the most organised of the four par-
ties. PDIP’s official website was only set up after my fieldwork, in 2007,
while at the time of this writing in 2012 PAN still did not have a web-
site.27 PDIP’s relatively late adoption of a website dovetails with my other
findings that it was the most decentralised of the four parties, while PAN
had not seen the urgency of setting up a website.
In terms of property ownership, Partai Golkar was the strongest fi-
nancially of the four parties. It owned its branch offices and was the on-
ly party able to afford professional staff.28 According to Appleton &
Ward (1997), this level of financial independence is a clear sign of a
modern organised party. In contrast, the new parties, PAN and PKS, were
still renting their branch offices during my fieldwork. However, PKS

demonstrated that it could handle moving its kodya office without dis-
rupting party activities, whereas the need to shift its own kodya office
disrupted not only PAN’s current activities but its access to its records
and files. The different effects of moving reflected the different levels of
organisation within the party branches. In PKS’s case, it had developed a
clear division of labour, with different tasks assigned to different cadres.
As a result, the party operation continued to run smoothly during the
search for a new office. In contrast, as PAN was reliant on cadres to han-
dle all party matters rather than specific tasks, the search for a new of-
fice delayed all other activities.
However, the old parties do not necessarily possess better resources.
While the PKS suggests that older parties do have better resources, the
lack of a permanent office location or professional staff does not neces-
sarily disadvantage new parties. Also, while Partai Golkar was the stron-
gest financially, this was not reflected in its use of technology in the
branch offices. All of the branches of the four parties had telephone
connections, but only PKS evidenced the full use of computers. While
PDIP’s kodya office kept its membership database in a computer, PDIP’s
kabupaten office did not have a computer. Partai Golkar’s and PAN’s ar-
chives were still manually organised as well, which suggests that these
two parties, particularly Golkar, which had significantly better financial
resources, did not see the use of modern technology as important. In
the case of Partai Golkar, Webb’s use of financial strength as a measure
of party organisation conflicts with Appleton & Ward’s emphasis on
technology. Although the old parties have the advantage of experience,
the lack of experience of the new parties does not limit their ability to
develop, nor does it ensure that the old parties have the best systems.
In fact, pre-existing party resources were of limited significance to lo-
cal branch funding, as party leaders suggested that the parties’ income
relied more on external contributions than on their own resources and
central support. Although it was impossible to obtain a transparent fi-
nancial report from any of the four parties,29 it is clear that the parties
did not rely on members’ dues for new funding. This was partly be-
cause dues were not obligatory and perhaps partly because it is difficult
to create an effective mechanism for dues collection at the branch level.
Such an initiative would be especially difficult for the kabupaten offices,
since it would be taxing for the parties given the broad geographical
areas they cover.30
Instead of financing their branch activities through dues, all parties
relied on donations from supporters. PKS, PAN and Partai Golkar also im-
posed monthly obligatory contributions on party members in the local
assembly. However, the amounts of these obligatory contributions were
not disclosed and thus it was difficult to determine how much the suc-
cessful candidates contributed to the parties. PKS sources noted, though,

that they financed their activities mainly from contributions from ca-
dres and successful election candidates, which demonstrated the
branches’ ability to adhere to the party’s national policy of applying cer-
tain rules for financing its operation – something the other parties were
unable to do.31 The other three parties’ sources of funding were less
transparent: aside from their regular budgets from their central and/or
provincial offices, party leaders did not specifically identify the sources
of donations to their parties. Although the amounts raised through oth-
er kinds of donations were difficult to determine, the fact that party
leaders always expressed their gratitude to donors suggests that these
donations were crucial for branch office operations. The absence of
party fund-raising activities contributed to my impression that financial
donations were largely not made transparently, such as through party
functions, but rather were undisclosed contributions.
As Szczerbiak found in his study of Eastern Europe (1999), however,
the payment of membership dues does not always represent a signifi-
cant connection between members and their parties. Indeed, my find-
ings suggest that the connection between parties and members are cre-
ated by other means. But funding is important because external dona-
tions could hamper the independence of the parties if the parties are
heavily dependent on them. And if party independence is compro-
mised, it could affect party institutionalisation (Mainwaring & Scully


Scholars argue that party organisation is crucial for party institutionali-

sation and for the quality of democracy (Spirova 2005). Party organisa-
tion at the local level in the four Indonesian parties examined here var-
ied considerably. In terms of party administration, commitment and
dedication have to be combined with the relevant skills to ensure that
party offices are organised well. Partai Golkar chose to have paid profes-
sionals with needed skills organise its branches, with favourable results,
suggesting that paying skilled professionals fosters good office organisa-
tion. However, while PKS had the benefit of young skilled cadres who
had both capacity and loyalty to the party, Partai Golkar did not.
Delegation of authority from the central office also had different ef-
fects on the four parties’ administration. The PKS’s Malang branches
demonstrated that they could manage this delegation of authority, and
that a combination of central guidance and support and decentralisation
of some aspects of decision-making aided the efficiency of the party,
while making use of local resources allowed local offices to make rou-
tine decisions independently. Similarly, Partai Golkar’s kodya branch

had a close relationship with the central office, yet demonstrated its in-
dependence in its handling of most of my requests and enquiries, albeit
not as efficiently as PKS.
Overall, PKS demonstrated the most solid organisation at the branch
level, with clear mechanisms for reporting to the central office and swift
responses to enquiries. Among the three other parties, although Partai
Golkar proved its professionalism in managing its party organisation, it
was slow to respond to enquiries. PDIP’s branches, on the other hand,
demonstrated that the same administrative arrangements can have dif-
ferent implications even in the same party, as its kabupaten office was
the more organised. PAN’s Malang offices were the most disorganised
among the four parties, with party operations suspended during the
search for a new kodya office, and the absence of a clear mechanism for
reporting to PAN’s central office.
But their deficiencies aside, the four parties demonstrated that they
are capable of independently managing themselves. The mere fact that
local branches exist suggests that Blondel’s first prerequisite of party or-
ganisation, that a party be large, was met. The parties were large
enough to require representative offices at the kodya and kapubaten lev-
els. The branches were able to organise local party offices that deal with
membership and other local administrative matters, and generally man-
aged to keep at least some level of connection with their central office,
which Janda (1980) suggests is an important feature of a modern party.
However, local party organisation is about more than just the existence
of branches. Party branches have to organise party activities to raise
public awareness of the party’s platform, since such activities are the
realisation of party programmes at the local level and the branches are
the bodies that execute them. The next chapter discusses the variety of
party activities in Malang and how the branches organised them.
5 Party Activities

Like Indonesian political parties generally, Partai Golkar, Partai

Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, Partai Amanat Nasional and Partai
Keadilan Sejahtera all have a strong preference for organising socio-cul-
tural activities, mainly to attract as much attention and participation as
possible. Party age has little to do with the capacity to organise these
and other activities. Rather, it is the commitment and dedication found
in a particular branch to organise activities that makes the difference.
Young parties have proven just as able as the older parties to be active
and creative in managing activities. But both the priorities and capaci-
ties of the parties vary, and reflect the level of party organisation. Better-
organised parties organise more activities compared with the less-organ-
ised ones.

Importance of Party Activities

Parties demonstrate their organisational abilities in part through routine

and frequent events for their members. Ideally, these events occur in
branch offices as well as in the parties’ central offices, since institution-
alised parties are present at both local and national levels. Also, local
branches must be active so that their presence is felt by the local popu-
lation. Party activities are the simplest way for a party to promote itself.
Through its activities, a party can advertise itself, its interests and its
platform to the general public. However, parties must do more than just
organise activities that appeal to the community. To be truly effective at
the branch level, they must have routine intra-party procedures such as
meetings (Mainwaring & Scully 1995). Members should be able to pre-
dict and expect what their party does, so that it will be easy for them to
participate in party activities.
In studies of political parties, the term ‘activity’ is used to measure
how much parties do, particularly after elections (see, for example,
Fisher et al. 2006). Blondel (1978: 107) argues that party activities
mainly concern the application of party policies. Ideal parties, he as-
serts, have clear ideologies which are promoted through the frequent
and routine execution of their activities. Blondel posits that ideal party

programmes should ‘aim to achieve [a] good or just society’, be consis-

tent and be able to ‘implement party goals through detailed policies’.
Like Mainwaring & Scully (1995), Blondel emphasises the routine exe-
cution of activities, but the main feature of his argument is his focus
on the impact of different ideologies on the implementation of parties’
programmes (1978: chapter 6). As a result, his analysis gives insuffi-
cient attention to activities that parties undertake other than campaign-
ing or spreading propaganda.
In Selle & Svasand’s (1991) study of European parties, the party plat-
form is considered the basis of party activities. Selle & Svasand relate
the decline of party membership to the orientation of party activities,
which they see as an indication of parties’ focus. Their argument helps
us better understand parties’ behaviour and their choices of activities.
According to Selle & Svasand, parties began to decline when their activ-
ities ‘changed from emphasis on political issues, ideology, and organisa-
tional questions to more social and cultural activity’ (1991: 465). Parties
lose interest in more political activities and switch to socio-cultural ones
when they try to ‘increase participation and improve contacts between
local organisations’ (Selle & Svasand 1991: 465). Although the
Indonesian situation is clearly different than Europe’s, there is a well-
documented tendency to substitute social and cultural events for politi-
cal events in Indonesia, not only by political parties but also by other
mass institutions such as trade unions (see for example Uhlin 1997:
119-120; Beeson & Hadiz 1998: 9).
In her study of political parties in Germany and Britain, Scarrow
(1996) argues that party activities are part of parties’ organising strat-
egies and can be categorised into three groups. The first group of activ-
ities is concerned with maintaining local branches, while the second
concerns participation in local government. The third group of activities
is designed to reach out to the community. Efforts to raise funds and to
recruit and retain members make up Scarrow’s first category, while ac-
tivities related to contesting local elections make up the second category.
The third category includes the widest variety of activities. According to
Scarrow, parties’ community outreach activities can range from regular
public meetings, leaflet-drops and door-to-door sales of party literature
to public park clean-ups and the provision of televisions to the elderly
(Scarrow 1996: 113-143).
The most comprehensive study of party activities was conducted by
Janda (1980). His monumental cross-national study of 158 political par-
ties argues that more mature parties engage in a wide range of activities.
According to Janda, a party’s primary objective is to place its candidates
in the nation’s legislature. This objective is pursued by competing openly
in elections, attacking other parties, or working outside election periods
to force sitting legislative members to resign in order to increase access

to governmental seats (1980: chapter 7). In addition to this narrow strat-

egy, Janda argues, a ‘broadly-oriented’ party engages in various other ac-
tivities which are not directly related to its primary objective of gaining
power in the nation’s legislature. The range of activities that Janda ob-
served focused on improving members’ well-being and building links be-
tween members and the government. He contends that in order to devel-
op breadth of activity, parties should be service-providers as well as politi-
cal avenues for their members. Janda divides the repertoire of party
activities into four groups: ‘operating mass communications media (ra-
dio, TV, newspapers)’, ‘operating party schools (as distinguished from
general education)’, ‘passing resolutions and platforms’ and ‘publishing
position papers’ (1980: 85-89). Janda does not include party meetings in
his list of party activities, instead dealing with them as a separate indica-
tor of party organisation. However, he considers them the most basic
form of party activity. They offer members a way to become involved
more deeply in a party organisation, while they offer parties a direct way
to canvass members’ opinions. Party meetings also reflect the effort re-
quired of parties to manage their branches and various internal bodies.
Well-organised parties have branches which meet regularly (Janda 1980).
The variety of meetings held by the local branches discussed in this chap-
ter serve as an indicator of party organisation. The more organised the
branch, the greater the variety of meetings it holds.
South Korea provides a comparable example to Indonesia of parties
in transition. Political participation was heavily controlled in South
Korea until the country experienced the ‘third wave’ of democratisation
in 1987 (Heo & Stockton 2005: 674-675). One study of Korean parties
described a specific process they used to raise awareness of voters’ con-
cerns (Sejong Institute 2000: 7). This process involves recording in-
coming telephone calls to party headquarters from all members, mak-
ing notes of members’ opinions, conveying them to relevant party com-
mittees and regularly reporting local developments to party authorities.
Korean parties also conduct political education, encouraging voters not
to vote for corrupt politicians. These activities serve as a way for parties
to interact with grass-roots members and to listen to their wishes and
aspirations. Although Steinberg & Shin view Korean parties as the
weakest link in the country’s democratic transition, as they are ‘transi-
tory’ and tend to come and go (Steinberg & Shin 2006: 517-523), activ-
ities connecting parties with members function as avenues of political
participation. More importantly, these activities prove that even when
parties are not as institutionalised as those in mature democracies, they
can encourage political participation. But the ability to foster participa-
tion depends on how much a party prioritises its relationship with the
community. In South Korea, this is an important priority for parties.

In Indonesia, as we will see below, where I examine the variety of ac-

tivities of my four parties in the Malang area using Janda’s measure-
ments of the breadth of party activity, the parties’ activities generally in-
dicate their strong tendency to promote a positive party image. Of
course, this is understandable given the tarnished image of New Order
parties. The parties evidenced a wide range of activities during my
study. These activities encompassed different objectives ranging from
raising awareness of their party platforms to membership retention to
public relations (e.g. provision of disaster relief). The parties mainly
used these activities to attract support. With the exception of Partai
Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), their choices of activities were guided less by
party platforms than by what they believed would attract crowds. Party
ideologies were merely ideas largely unrelated to daily operations.1
Local branch officials played a defining role in choosing and administer-
ing party activities. Thus, the frequency and effectiveness of activities
depended on the level of local branch organisation. The branches’ abil-
ity to organise events also showed their level of unity, which Blondel
(1978) suggests is demonstrated by the capacity of parties to involve
members and cadres in organising and attending party events.

Dynamics of Party Activities

The various activities held at the local level in Malang by the branches
of each of the four parties showed their priorities and attitudes towards
both party members and the general public. Generally, the parties ex-
hibited high regard for their relationships with members and the public
and wanted to maintain close connections with them. Nonetheless, the
parties chose different strategies to remain popular. These strategies re-
volved around organising public events to draw attention to themselves
or privately helping particular communities. No matter which strategy
parties chose, their activities reflected the significance they accorded to
building and sustaining public support.

Partai Golkar
Partai Golkar’s kodya and kabupaten branches in Malang both held regu-
lar events. The range of Partai Golkar’s activities was extensive, from re-
ligious activities to the provision of services to members and the com-
munity in general. Although there were no activities geared toward re-
cruiting new members, the party’s desire to win elections was reflected
by its efforts to engage the community. Various socio-cultural party ac-
tivities were aimed at maintaining communications with the commun-
ity, with the objective of serving people’s needs as means of persuading

them to vote for the party or retaining their vote. The management of
Partai Golkar’s various activities indicated that the branches were well-
Partai Golkar’s activities were focused on establishing a stable rela-
tionship with the community. The most prominent example was called
Jaring Asmara (Jaring Aspirasi Masyarakat, or Netting the Community’s
Aspirations).2 This programme was aimed at maintaining a dialogue
with local communities and understanding their specific needs.3 It took
the form of direct dialogues between party cadres or leaders4 and
members of the community. Typically, in such dialogues the party re-
ceived requests from community members for specific facilities, such
as for health services or school buildings.5 The party then decided inter-
nally which requests to fulfil and how to manage them.6 Meeting these
needs was seen as crucial for maintaining support and thus election
The priority the party placed on building facilities for the community
suggests that it still maintained its New Order ideology. During the
New Order era, Partai Golkar’s predecessor, Golkar, relied heavily on
what Indonesian observers called ‘developmentalism’, which meant that
its support base was maintained by fulfilling the base’s economic and
security needs.8 Under Suharto, this was realised through the develop-
ment of infrastructure. Partai Golkar’s ongoing attachment to its devel-
opmentalist ideology suggests that it had not entirely escaped its associ-
ation with the New Order. However, it also reflected the fact that this
ideology was extremely successful in drawing support and attention
from voters. In this sense, Partai Golkar opted for a pragmatic attach-
ment to popular ideology that worked, instead of taking the risk of
adopting a new formula without a proven track record.
Partai Golkar in Malang demonstrated a particularly strong commit-
ment to establishing communication with the community. Its commun-
ity dialogues were extensions of regular dialogues between party leaders
and cadres from different kecamatan (districts) held at the party office.
Partai Golkar’s kodya office held the widest variety of weekly meetings.9
The office housed the regular and irregular meetings of both the kodya
and kecamatan branches, including monthly meetings and division
meetings.10 The kodya office also held regular dialogues between its
legislative members and party cadres and members. These dialogues,
called reses in Indonesian, were held as follow-up meetings between the
party and the candidates elected by the party, as ‘proof that election is
not the end of the relationship between party candidates and the people
who elected them’.11 Reses are a party’s initiative to engage, listen to and
try to give back to the community. Party cadres usually bring their com-
plaints and particular concerns to these meetings, such as the need to
develop particular facilities in their area, or complaints about an

election promise that government has not met for their neighbourhood.
In response to such complaints, I observed during my fieldwork, an
elected candidate would typically explain the government’s reasons and
priorities in implementing policies, in the hope that the concerns were
addressed.12 These regular meetings were useful in maintaining close
relationships between party cadres and in providing a forum for discus-
sion of current party issues and organisation of events.
The kabupaten branch faced different circumstances when organising
meetings for its cadres. According to the party administrator, because
the kabupaten area is large,13 it was generally not feasible to hold meet-
ings more frequently than once a month. Distance created hurdles to
setting up regular meetings, and the different occupations of party ca-
dres kept them busy at different times.14 Fortunately, with mobile
phone technology, it was easier to communicate with different kecama-
tan (which are smaller geographical areas) to decide on the time to hold
regular kecamatan branch meetings.15 The kabupaten office was gener-
ally less active in organising meetings than the kodya office.16
Other socio-cultural activities reflected Partai Golkar’s emphasis on
its relationship with the public. The party provided services for the com-
munity and party members. In response to bad economic conditions
and difficulties finding employment, the Partai Golkar’s kodya branch
put one of Malang’s mall developers in contact with its members in the
hope that they would secure employment.17 Members wishing to take
part in this job recruitment opportunity had to register their interest
with the party. As it turned out, the developer offered scores of jobs to
members with suitable qualifications. This kind of employment service
is provided regularly by Partai Golkar, with potential employers identi-
fied and approached by the party.18
The party also provided educational services and publications for
members and the community. At the national level, the party published a
tabloid called Ikrar (literally oath), which promoted its platform and post-
Suharto image (Romli et al. 2003: 149). At the local level, the party had
schools managed by the party’s foundation, Yayasan Pengembangan
Ilmu dan Karya (Foundation for the Development of Science and
Vocation). The foundation focused on early education, including kinder-
garten and elementary school, but the party intended to develop it further
to offer education at higher levels. Partai Golkar also had its Lembaga
Pengelola Kader (Cadre Development Council, or LPK), which aimed to
develop cadres’ practical skills, such as sewing or craftsmanship, to allow
them to generate income through self-employment if they could not find
other work. These services were established for members exclusively.
Despite having the potential to attract members, they were not actively
promoted to the general public, which reflected the party’s position that
membership enlargement was not a priority.

The party also used religion in its activities. During my fieldwork,

Partai Golkar held regular istighosah19 and pengajian20 in the kodya of-
fice for cadres. These religious events were usually complemented by
speeches, either from party leaders or religious leaders. The speeches
usually had strong themes about organisational consolidation, and the
party provided material for media coverage of community issues. The
party used these get-togethers as means to strengthen the bonds be-
tween different sub-organisations, while also focusing on special
themes from time to time. For example, around an election period,
party leaders would emphasise the importance of electoral success, or
discuss a local election issue.21 During the fasting month of Ramadhan,
the party held weekly istighosah and buka puasa bersama (communal
fast-breaking) for party cadres. Partai Golkar officials believed that these
religious events were important for character-building, and they were
held regularly even outside of the fasting month.22 By organising reli-
gious activities, the party sought to improve its image as well as serve
members’ needs.
The party demonstrated some sensitivity in picking the right mo-
ments and the right events to boost its image. For example, around late
2005, there were allegations that traditional staple foods sold by street
merchants had been contaminated by illegal preservatives.23 Street mer-
chants suffered as a result. Their livelihoods were threatened because
their sales decreased dramatically.24 Teaming up with a local newspaper,
Partai Golkar gathered together around 50 of the affected merchants,
mainly bakso25 and tahu26 street traders. Then party members and the
community were invited to a special event, Makan Bakso Bersama
(Eating Bakso Together), where the merchants served them free
meals.27 Also, the kabupaten office distributed breeding cattle to local
farmers. This programme was aimed at ‘demonstrating the party’s will
to improve people’s living standard and not just to use them as a voting
machine’.28 The bakso event and cattle distribution programme support
Pak Andi’s observation that ‘the party shifts its focus during non-elec-
tion periods from political to economic issues’. Partai Golkar had a wide
range of activities designed not just to serve its membership, but to
reach the general public.
In addition, the party ran numerous events to commemorate the an-
niversary of its founding. The range of activities included sporting com-
petitions (usually open to the general public, both to participate in and
watch),29 religious and traditional ceremonies,30 as well as public enter-
tainment.31 Dialogue with the public was promoted during the anniver-
sary celebrations by inviting famous party elders to speak to the com-
munity. Thus, even on special occasions such as anniversaries, Partai
Golkar remained focused on engaging the community through dialogue

and services.32 The dialogues with party elders also served as means to
promote the party platform and ideology.
That Partai Golkar’s Malang branches were generally able to manage
a wide range of activities was an indication of the party’s sophisticated
organisation at the branch level. The party’s tabloid, schools and mem-
ber employment network showed the party’s ability to organise itself.
Partai Golkar’s activities also demonstrated that maintaining and en-
hancing its popularity was a priority. Although this did not translate in-
to aggressive recruitment campaigns, it led to various efforts at public
engagement to build greater community identification with the party.
Every activity organised by Partai Golkar was geared towards drawing
crowds. The publicity helped achieve the party’s basic goals of building
a fresh post-New Order image and attracting votes.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan

As we saw in the previous chapter, the PDIP’s kodya and kabupaten
branches exhibited different levels of organisation and activity. The ka-
bupaten office was the more active and organised of the two. It housed
regular discussions among party cadres, while the kodya office was
largely inactive.33 PDIP’s activities in the kabupaten branch generally fo-
cused on maintaining the party’s relationship with local communities.
While also aimed at providing updates to the community, party activ-
ities in the kodya area were dull and irregular. Recruitment activities
were also non-existent in this branch. In line with the central party
strategy, the focus was on maintaining a positive image amongst sup-
porters in order to keep them voting for the party during elections.
PDIP’s kabupaten office was frequented by cadres from different keca-
matan since it was convenient for them to meet there to hold discus-
sions with party leaders.34 These informal discussions took place on al-
most a daily basis.35 The office also held formal monthly meetings,
chaired by the kabupaten chairperson to discuss the latest developments
in party activities and news from other parties. Sarasehan (informal dis-
cussions aimed mainly at creating closer relationships) were also regu-
larly held for cadres in the office. Another activity organised by the ka-
bupaten office was bhakti sosial (community service), which, according
to the office-keeper, was held in different kecamatan. One of the bhakti
sosial events was focused on the kabupaten office building itself: mem-
bers and cadres donated their time to paint the office. Bhakti sosial
served as a form of party service to the community as well as a party-
awareness-raising event.36
The kabupaten secretary gave an interesting example of an activity
that is common in the general Indonesian community, typically among
women, but not usually undertaken by political parties. He initiated a

programme under which four kecamatan (districts) in the kabupaten or-

ganised regular arisan.37 These get-togethers were used by cadres to
identify developments in different areas and exchange ideas and experi-
ences in handling various issues. The participating kecamatan hoped to
enlarge this event and invite other kecamatan to join the branch’s arisan
group. Potentially, non-members could also be invited in the future, so
the cadres could approach and persuade them to join the party.38 If this
scheme was successful, arisan could be an alternative point of engage-
ment between the party and the public, which could lead to new mem-
bership commitments. Thus, aside from improving the relationships
between cadres from different kecamatan, the arisan could also be a re-
cruitment activity.
Around the time of the party’s anniversary, the kabupaten office had a
busy schedule of activities aimed at providing services to the general
public. Aside from inviting Sukarno’s daughter Megawati to give a
speech at the peak of the anniversary celebration, the office organised a
ritual cattle sacrifice (penyembelihan hewan kurban)39 and provided free
medication for the general public for two days. A blood donation clinic
was also held on one of the weekends, with doctors and nurses espe-
cially invited from Surabaya at the party’s expense. However, it was dif-
ficult for such services to reach members effectively, given the size of
the kabupaten area.40 The party could provide little in the way of trans-
portation, although some car-pooling was donated by individual party
cadres or members.41 Thus, the services were ineffective, despite party
efforts, as the obstacles imposed by distance and transportation costs
were difficult to overcome.
Party members were aware of the difficulties in generating participa-
tion over a large area and in relying on individual sacrifice to boost
turnout. In response, the branch initiated free home renovations for the
poor in different kecamatan as an anniversary event. The kecamatan ca-
dres had the task of nominating and choosing several homes for reno-
vation at the party’s expense. However, this strategy had a limited im-
pact, as the costs of renovation did not allow the party to concentrate on
more than one kecamatan.42 It was difficult for party services to reach
faraway regions and thus these services were only enjoyed by a limited
number of people. The party probably also had difficulties fulfilling
election promises in remote areas, which would suggest that it needs to
be more cautious in formulating its promises.
In contrast to its kabupaten branch, PDIP’s kodya branch seldom or-
ganised activities. The office staff suggested to me that regular meetings
at the kodya level were held at that office, but the records I saw on the
details and timing of the meetings suggested that communication and
coordination problems existed between the office-keepers and the
party’s secretary.43 The branch used to hold a weekly political lecture,

where its cadres would have an open political discussion with members
and supporters, but these events were no longer organised by the
branch.44 The office-keepers also claimed that regular bhakti sosial were
held by the party in different kecamatan, usually in the form of cleaning
certain neighbourhoods in the city. However, bhakti sosial seemed to be
the only kind of regular activity held by the party.45 There was only one
other activity organised by the kodya branch, which was a buka puasa
bersama (communal fast-breaking) during Ramadhan.46 This was a rare
occasion for the office, which by my observations was usually empty
and locked. What’s more, the relatively small office space could not ac-
commodate the 200 or so party members, cadres and community
members who flocked to the buka puasa bersama event. The usual pad-
locking of the kodya branch office starkly underlined its passivity.
Indeed, it created the impression that the party and the branch essen-
tially went into hibernation outside election periods. Nobody was at
Even during the party’s anniversary celebrations, the kodya branch
held fewer activities than the kabupaten branch. It only held bhakti sosial
and distributed sembako (nine essential groceries for Indonesian house-
holds) to the general public.48 This contrasted starkly with the various
events held by the kabupaten office to commemorate the same events.49
Thus, different levels of activity can take place at the local level within
the same party, indicating limited influence or supervision from the
central or provincial offices to ensure that branches remain active. The
different levels of activity can also reflect incoherence in the relation-
ships between offices from the same party. Such incoherence, of course,
can hurt effectiveness in executing party strategy in the long term.
PDIP is one of Indonesia’s biggest parties, thanks to its national lead-
ers’ popularity. Like Partai Golkar, PDIP did not engage in aggressive
campaigns to enlarge its membership during the period of my field-
work, focusing instead on efforts to maintain its supporters’ sympathy.
But unlike Partai Golkar, PDIP’s national profile was not supported by an
effective branch structure. Its kabupaten branch in Malang had failed to
overcome the challenges of the physical size of the area it served. In
this respect, its strategy was undermined by its failure to reach as many
people as possible. While the party’s kodya branch did not face the same
geographical challenges, it was even less active.

Partai Amanat Nasional

PAN was the least active of the four parties at the branch level during my
study period. PAN’s Malang branches were preoccupied with their inter-
nal management and had abandoned other party activities. There was a
pergantian pengurus (change in office bearers) in both the kodya and

kabupaten branches, while both branches spent several months looking

for new offices to rent.50 Since the cycle of locating a new office and
moving was repeated almost yearly, their inability to organise other
party activities seemed likely to continue.51 Their general inefficiency re-
sulting from the office moves seriously disrupted the implementation
of party programmes at the local level.
For many months, PAN’s kodya branch did not even have an office,
which of course made it difficult to organise and manage the branch.
When interviewed, cadres from PAN’s kodya branch were optimistic that
they could organise monthly party meetings once a new office was
found and rented.52 In fact, once a new office was located, PAN cadres
held frequent informal meetings there.53 Party meetings were con-
ducted at night and lasted until morning if there were urgent matters
to be discussed. However, these meetings were the only activities held
by the kodya office.
As noted, during my fieldwork period PAN’s kabupaten branch was us-
ing the chairperson’s house as its office while trying to find a new
building to rent. Party meetings were also held in the chairperson’s
house. Although the branch tried to have regular monthly meetings,
the fact that the chairperson took care of all administration matters per-
sonally meant that in practice PAN’s kabupaten branch only met once
every two months.54 Despite the infrequency of these meetings, they
(along with elections of office-bearers) comprised the main activities of
PAN’s kabupaten branch.
The meetings were crucial for the continu-
ance of the party at the local level, since without them the branches
would have been inactive.
In addition to these meetings, PAN’s kabupaten branch provided emer-
gency help for victims of a flood around kabupaten Malang. But this
was the only public activity undertaken by the branch outside anniver-
sary celebrations.56 According to party leaders, PAN’s activities peaked
during its anniversary celebrations. Events during the anniversary in-
cluded a ‘long march’, the distribution of free medication, and public
performances. PAN used these performances as vehicles for religious ac-
tivities, as it is an Islamic party. However, such events only occurred
during the party’s anniversary celebrations, and outside the anniversa-
ries the party’s activities were confined to its regular meeting pro-
gramme, unless there was an emergency like the flood. This showed
the party’s inward concentration on internal organisation, which contra-
dicted the national policy of enlarging the party’s membership.
During my fieldwork, PAN’s Malang branches organised fewer activ-
ities than did the branches of the other three parties. The branches did
not really engage the community and were extremely passive when it
came to recruitment and building support. PAN failed to organise activ-
ities to engage the general public and thereby attract potential

members. Rather, in PAN’s Malang branches the election of new local

leaders was considered a particularly important activity. Although other
activities were essentially abandoned, electing new office holders was
not. The party’s emphasis on these internal elections and other in-
house activities demonstrated that the branches were more concerned
with internal organisation than outward self-promotion.

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

Generally, PKS’s activities during my study were heavily motivated by the
dakwah movement, which aims to spread Islamic teachings. PKS’s
Malang branches demonstrated creativity in the variety of activities they
organised at the local level; they made an obvious effort to hold events
with an Islamic theme that captured the imagination of the general
public. The party’s sophisticated management of its activities indicated
an advanced level of branch organisation in Malang. Party activities
were also strong indicators of party policy on particular issues, such as
the role of Islam in daily life, and of the party’s recruitment policies.
The frequency and variety of recruitment-focused activities showed how
much PKS in Malang prioritised recruitment.
PKS’s aggressive recruitment campaigns included the distribution of
flyers and pamphlets at least once a month.57 On one occasion during
my fieldwork, this distribution was conducted in the city bus terminal,
where two female cadres approached people getting off public transport
to give them flyers.58 The flyers contained invitations to join the party
and contact information for cadres in different kecamatan. This act was
not only simple and direct; it reached out to members of the commun-
ity and increased their knowledge of the party.
Another type of regular recruitment activity by PKS was an ‘open
house’ held by the party in venues such as public libraries and exhibi-
tion halls. Organised at least once a month, these open houses con-
sisted of information displays showing what the party stood for and did.
These events usually lasted for two to three days. The party would set
up the venue with a number of booths to display the attributes and ac-
tivities of each of its divisions.59 Typically, visitors would have the
chance to ask cadres directly about the party. Cadres at each of the
booths took the initiative to engage with visitors and start conversa-
tions.60 In addition to the divisional booths, the exhibitions featured a
special booth for applicants who wished to register as party members.
There were also Islamic sermons and Islamic book exhibitions during
the events.61 Like its flyer distributions, PKS’s open houses reached the
public directly and were successful in attracting new members.62
The party’s attitude towards recruitment was also shown through its
commitment to recruitment follow-up activities. In its training of

recruits, PKS employed specific techniques to improve their skills. PKS

saw three aspects of a cadre that required development: pemikiran (way
of thinking), hati (emotional well-being) and fisik (physical condition).63
The PKS’s Pak Sophya elaborated:64

With regard to the intellectual aspects, we have activities con-

cerned with exploring perspectives of Islam and general knowl-
edge. The timing can be flexible, sometimes once every three
months. The emotional aspect is about the relationship and
closeness of a cadre with God, so we don’t shape cadres who are
smart in terms of logic but empty in spirit. We hold events at
mosques and in relation to Ramadhan… Physical activities con-
sist of scout-like activities, like pramuka.65 [We improve] skills in
the field, outdoors. So a cadre is not sickly, [he/she] must be
physically strong. This is done regularly, and a cadre has to go
through them all.

PKS also used physical activities to attract supporters to the party. The ko-
dya and kabupaten branches in Malang joined forces to hold a ‘long
march’ across the city just before the start of Ramadhan in 2005.66
Participants, drawn from party cadres and their families, gathered at
the city square. They were dressed all in white and carried PKS banners,
flags and headbands. The participants were on foot, or used non-motor-
ised vehicles, such as becak67 or bicycles. They yelled out verses from
Al-Qur’an, reminding people to prepare for Ramadhan, and to ‘have
pure hearts’ to welcome the fasting month. They also yelled chants glo-
rifying the party as clean and responsible. The event was well-organised,
with the police escorting the 200-strong group as they walked across
the city. The objective of attracting attention was clearly met, as the
march slowed the traffic. Some bystanders chanted along with the
crowd. This event was designed to raise the public’s awareness of the
party and to project an active and Islamic image.
PKS’s kodya branch held rather unusual Islamic-motivated activities as
well. The branch had an information session for Muslim couples plan-
ning to marry. The free session focused on how to build a good mar-
riage according to Islam, and what wives and husbands should do with-
in their marriage.68 On another occasion, the branch hosted an exhibi-
tion of artistic caricatures, which featured drawings of Islamic
figures.69 This event was used to declare the party’s support for an anti-
pornography law.70 These activities showed the party’s commitment to
the dakwah movement and the role that dakwah plays in Indonesia’s po-
litical landscape more generally. The party sought to creatively engage
the public with different aspects of Islam. Specifically, it targeted young
Muslims with its recruitment campaign.

Aside from its activities targeting external audiences, PKS held internal
activities. Both the kodya and kabupaten branches had regular meetings
for their cadres once a month. During my fieldwork, both offices also
held internal elections, where they voted for candidates for the position
of provincial chair.71 The cadres’ votes were tallied and brought to the
provincial level by their representatives. At the provincial meeting, each
branch office had a single vote in the election of the chair. PKS’s intra-
party procedures were evidence of the party’s commitment to democ-
racy and demonstrated its solid organisation and well-structured deci-
sion-making processes.
During Ramadhan, PKS’s kabupaten office held a dialogue between
party cadres and religious scholars from the party.72 On this occasion,
cadres had the opportunity to seek guidance on religious as well as
party matters. The event featured presentations on the party’s activities,
focusing on those of the different divisions. The cadres’ questions
mainly concerned recruitment, particularly how to attract other com-
munity members to the party. There were also specific questions on
how to recruit older members of the local community, since they usu-
ally already had attachments to other parties.73 The issues raised during
the dialogue confirmed the party’s commitment to recruitment and the
extent to which party cadres made recruitment their priority as well.
The questions also demonstrated that the cadres were skilled at observ-
ing trends within their communities and identifying potential obstacles
to party growth.
During the same event, there was a session on financial matters. A
representative from an Islamic bank, Bank Muamalat, gave a presenta-
tion that featured a debit card designed specifically to accommodate the
needs of PKS members. The card had the PKS symbol on it and was only
available to PKS members. It was based on Islamic law, which forbids
the paying of interest.74 The party had created a marketing segment for
financial institutions, in this case an Islamic bank. The card suggested
possible further growth of the party, and was seen by the bank as a
business opportunity. More importantly, the party’s engagement with a
bank demonstrated its effort to engage with aspects of modern life.
Like PAN, PKS also provided assistance to flood victims in the kabupa-
ten area. PKS’s kabupaten branch collected food and medicine from party
members to be donated to the victims. The affected villages were iso-
lated by flood waters and government bodies were having trouble reach-
ing the remote villages. But PKS, along with a number of other organisa-
tions, travelled to the affected areas by boat and distributed food and
medicine.75 Once the flood water subsided, the office also organised
bhakti sosial to help locals rebuild their homes. Initiatives like these
showed the party’s desire to build good relationships with the commun-
ity as well as establish a positive image.

The local branches also demonstrated their support for central office
endeavours. Several issues of the party’s national magazine were dis-
played on a table at the branch offices and local leaders were quick to
hand them to guests and point out matters that the party was working
on. The magazine, called Saksi (literally, witness), focuses on current af-
fairs. Regular magazine features included profiles of PKS leaders and
‘Question and Answer’ columns on Islamic issues.76 The magazine tar-
gets young Muslims, as is evident from the trendy language employed
instead of the more formal style usually found in magazines for more
mature audiences. For example, the magazine uses words such as nge-
trend (popular), nyampein (usually menyampaikan, to convey) and naek
(usually naik, to climb). The magazine is distributed and sold nationally.
It showed the party’s breadth of activities and its effort to reach all as-
pects of its cadres’ everyday lives. The breadth of activities indicated the
party’s solid organisation, which gave it the capacity to run a commer-
cial publication.
PKS’s dedication to organising public activities suggested that the
party was focused on building relationships with the public and enlarg-
ing its membership base. PKS’s Malang branches undertook a busy pro-
gramme of wide-ranging activities that showed a high level of branch
organisation. The Islamic orientation of its activities was of course con-
sistent with PKS’s Islamic platform.

Party Activities in Malang

The ability of Malang’s party branches to independently organise activ-

ities suggests that, in contrast to the New Order era, the parties now val-
ued being active at the local level and believed that the right to under-
take such activities was no longer solely a Golkar privilege. The political
parties were no longer controlled by the government and were now able
to decide on their own actions. If ‘party organisation matters’ for insti-
tutionalisation (Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 5) and Janda’s indicators
(1980) of party organisation are applied, then the four parties all
showed clear signs of institutionalising. They had the freedom to
choose the activities they wanted to hold and to decide on their sched-
ules.77 The activities described above demonstrated that all four parties
remained active to a greater or lesser extent outside election periods,
rather than hibernating until the next election, as was the practice
under the New Order.
Partai Golkar and PKS exhibited the widest range of activities. Partai
Golkar managed schools for its members, as well as providing ways for
members and cadres to obtain employment by linking them with poten-
tial employers or teaching them new skills. Providing education is one

of Janda’s (1980) indicators that a party is mature and well-organised

and that its activities are aimed at ‘providing for [the] welfare of party
members’. PKS’s activities included running a national party magazine,
another indicator on Janda’s list. A party magazine serves the purpose
of mass communication and ‘propagandising ideas and programs’
(Janda 1980). PKS’s services for members also included a one-stop office
for the public to get help and advice on health issues as well as other
problems. This initiative, called Pelayanan Rakyat Adil Sejahtera (Service
of Just and Prosperous People, or PRAS), was launched in August 2006
after my fieldwork. According to local news sources, the party launched
this service on 61 sites in East Java. The range of services included
health, education, social problems and culture. The services also ex-
tended to economic issues, science and technology, law and politics.
One of the PKS’s health priorities was to educate the public on hygiene
and healthy living ( 2006). The recruitment-driven
PKS also engaged in more recruitment activities than the other three par-
ties. Partai Golkar’s and PDIP’s activities were geared more towards
maintaining a positive image. But both Partai Golkar and PKS demon-
strated that they were modern parties that conducted a wide range of ac-
tivities. This, in turn, indicated that they were well-managed (Janda
1980). The local offices of both parties also demonstrated solid organi-
sation in their management of activities.
In contrast, PDIP and PAN were relatively inactive. The PDIP’s kodya of-
fice and both offices of PAN were poorly organised. Though differences
in activity between the branches of a single party can suggest different
priorities and management practices, the case of PDIP suggests that the
level of branch activity also depends on local personnel. In fact, their
dedication is the single most important factor in a party’s organisation
of activities. The chairperson’s role was crucial in determining the activ-
ities of each office of the four parties, and local party leaders’ personal-
ities had much more impact than their outside occupations on a party’s
level of activity. For instance, Partai Golkar’s kabupaten chairperson was
also the Malang bupati,78 yet the party’s office remained active, while
the PDIP’s kodya chairperson also served as Malang’s mayor, but the
PDIP’s kodya branch was largely inactive.
The four parties’ main concerns, as indicated by their activities, re-
volved around two central themes: increasing public support and main-
taining the basic mechanisms of their organisational structures. To
maintain their organisational structures, the parties conducted regular
meetings. The four parties held regular internal meetings for their ca-
dres and staff despite the difficulties distributing invitations and gather-
ing cadres for the kabupaten offices. Even the least organised party, PAN,
managed to administer a leadership change while abandoning its other
activities. These internal activities are crucial for party organisation. The

regular internal meetings were a clear sign that the four parties could
‘maintain local organisations’, which is one indication that they are
well-organised (Janda 1980). However, although the parties promised
their members influence and power in decision-making, ordinary mem-
bers were not invited to party meetings. As a result, only cadres had a
real chance to exercise influence. This limited opportunities to develop
greater political participation, although members generally expressed
satisfaction with the decision-making processes in their parties. Their
apathetic attitude could be attributed to political participation patterns
during the New Order era, when there was very limited public involve-
ment. Such apathy is convenient for parties, as it means that they are
not pressured to create mechanisms to involve a large number of
While internal activities are necessary to maintain the structures of a
party, external activities prove that parties are active and seek to build
community relationships outside election periods. These kinds of activ-
ities are extremely important in the Indonesian context. All four of the
parties examined in this study held externally focused events, which
suggest that they wished to be more than election vehicles. These exter-
nal activities increased public knowledge and awareness of the parties,
helping members of the community identify what each party repre-
sented. Thus, they were attempting to develop ‘stable roots in society’
(Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 5). Their external activities also allowed the
parties to become familiar with local needs and circumstances.
Each party raised awareness of its aims and built familiarity with it-
self in the community by involving the public in party activities.
Although the parties conducted different activities, all of them at-
tempted to hold activities at the grass-roots level. For instance, bakti so-
sial (baksos) activities carried out by PDIP and PAN were usually con-
ducted in kelurahan79 (for the kodya office) or villages (for the kabupat-
en office) and locals were invited to participate.80 PKS also reached out
directly to the public through the distribution of flyers and public
events. By involving local people in their activities, the parties estab-
lished a direct connection with the community at the grass-roots level.
The parties strengthened this connection by efforts to provide services
for members of the public or helping them on an irregular or one-
time basis. One example involved PDIP cadres helping to find a
drowned local teenager. Also, Partai Golkar always invited local com-
munity members to join in activities such as a makan bakso bersama
or panggung hiburan (entertainment stages), along with distributing cat-
tle to be bred by local people. Meanwile, PDIP organised events for the
public such as the distribution of sembako (nine staple food ingre-
dients), while PKS and PAN helped the various kecamatan affected by
floods. These irregular activities showed that the parties actively sought

various ways to strengthen their relationships with the general public

and to thereby create a positive image.
Religion was one of the most popular means adopted by the parties
to develop a positive image in the community. All four of the parties
used Islam to encourage public participation in their activities. Events
such as pengajian and istighosah were held regularly by Partai Golkar
and PKS (in the case of PKS, pengajian was also a staple in its training
programme). Although PAN is theoretically based on the multi-faith doc-
trine of Pancasila, it nevertheless projected a strong Islamic image, evi-
denced by the inclusion of religious preachers in the party’s anniversary
celebrations. All of PKS’s activities were Islam-oriented, including the in-
formation session for couples, the caricature exhibition of Islamic fig-
ures, and the ‘long march’ that featured chants of verses from Al-
Qur’an. PDIP also chose to hold communal ‘fast-breaking’ events during
Ramadhan, another example of the use of Islam. Since Islam is the
dominant religion in Indonesia, it is a smart strategy for parties to use
it as a plank in their platforms.81
Sport was another popular choice. Some of the events commemorat-
ing Partai Golkar’s anniversary included brisk walking and a soccer
competition, while PKS held its ‘long march’ across Malang. The sports
that the parties chose reflected their aim to attract as many spectators
as possible. This was most obvious with activities like the ‘long march’
and the brisk-walking competition, which had the participants walking
around town, drawing attention from spectators.82 Soccer, chosen by
Partai Golkar, is also a popular sport in Indonesia that attracts large
numbers of spectators. Thus, through their choice of sport as a party ac-
tivity, the parties aimed to raise their public profiles.
Socio-cultural events were used by the four parties to attract interest
from the general public as well. According to Selle & Svasand’s study of
European parties, that is undesirable, as it indicates a decline in public
interest in political activities and parties themselves (Selle & Svasand
1991: 465). But this is not necessarily the case in Indonesia, where the
emphasis on socio-cultural events simply reflected the parties’ attempts
to attract more public support, which led sometimes to recruitment, in
other cases to electoral votes. It is easier in the Indonesian context to en-
gage the public and party members in recreational social and cultural ac-
tivities than in purely political meetings. For Partai Golkar, which had
various sub-organisations and a special focus on organising its bodies
internally to project organisational success externally, organising socio-
cultural events was an attempt to broaden interest in its sub-organisations,
which in turn could attract wider public interest in the party. In short, in
the Indonesian context, organising socio-cultural activities is an effective
means of enlarging party participation and interest from members and
non-members alike rather than a symptom of political desperation.

Janda’s (1980) detailed measures of a party’s progress towards insti-

tutionalisation are helpful in the Malang context. Again, his four catego-
ries of activities are operating mass communications media, operating
party schools, passing resolutions and platforms and publishing posi-
tion papers. PKS undertook activities in three of these categories: it pub-
lished its magazine, Saksi; conducted regular recruitment and leaflet
distribution that supported the passing of resolutions and platforms;
and published position papers.83 Partai Golkar organised a public
school which prioritised its members. But the other two parties, PDIP
and PAN, did not organise any activities in the four categories. Using
Janda’s indicators, PKS and Partai Golkar definitely showed higher levels
of organisation than PDIP and PAN. However, the socio-cultural activities
of all four parties served a different but equally important purpose than
institutionalisation. They engaged the general public and thereby at-
tracted greater interest in the party and potentially electoral support.
The diverse activities of the four parties’ local branches also indicated
an interesting trend in party development. Unique activities such as
Partai Golkar’s Jaring Asmara programme of dialogues with the com-
munity, the arisan get-togethers held by the PDIP’s kabupaten branch and
PKS’s Bank Muamalat debit card showed that the parties were using cre-
ativity to identify activities and programmes which could attract more
support. The parties were trying to make their activities more interest-
ing and relevant to people’s everyday lives and to create the impression
that they were not just involved in politics, but in other aspects of life.
However, the impact of such creativity on party membership levels re-
mains to be seen.
The parties tended to favour one of two general approaches in their
outreach activities: either aggressively recruiting members or maintain-
ing a connection with the public. In practice, an emphasis on attracting
crowds to party events reflected a wish to increase their popularity with
the general public, while an emphasis on specific recruitment events
suggested a belief in the need to enlarge the branch’s membership. The
main differences between the parties’ programmes were in their orien-
tations and ranges of activities, and in their branches’ different levels of
commitment to organising them. The incumbent parties, Partai Golkar
and PDIP, were more focused on maintaining awareness of themselves
in the community, while PKS was driven to develop its membership
base.84 PAN’s activities were seriously hindered by its administrative
problems, suggesting that party management should be an important
priority for the party, but its national-level policy suggested that it was
oriented towards recruitment. My research shows that, at one level, the
more active a branch is, the greater the community’s awareness of the
party, and thus the greater the party’s chance to attract and recruit
members. Conversely, the more inactive the branch, the fewer people

that know about the party, and the less interested they are in joining
it.85 However, recruitment activities also depend on a party’s orienta-
tion. PKS, the party that prioritised grass-roots recruitment, was the only
party that demonstrated a commitment to organising recruitment activ-
ities. On the other hand, Partai Golkar, which was also extremely active,
sought to raise its public profile without necessarily recruiting new


Their activities at the local level indicates that Partai Golkar, PDIP, PAN
and PKS had more developed organisations than New Order parties and
were developing ‘stable roots in society’ (Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 5).
However, these case studies demonstrate that independence from a cen-
tral office can be detrimental if a party branch is unable to sustain itself,
as was the case with PAN. Thus, there are both advantages and disadvan-
tages to high levels of local freedom for parties and local branches suf-
fer if they are not capable of self-management.
Not all theories of party development derived from Western democra-
cies are appropriate for assessing the progress of Indonesian parties. In
the Indonesian context, parties’ decisions to emphasise socio-cultural
activities reflect increasing interest in public engagement rather than a
decline in the parties, and the public has shown a strong wish to be in-
volved in them. These socio-cultural activities are crucial for familiaris-
ing the public with parties and their platforms. Such familiarity is nec-
essary if parties wish to increase involvement in their political activities.
But some aspects of party development theories derived from
Western democracies are applicable to Indonesia. According to Janda’s
(1980) indicators, Indonesian parties show signs of institutionalisation,
as manifested in their management and organisation of local activities.
These local activities enable them to connect with the general public.
However, differences in the frequency and range of the activities of the
four parties here demonstrated that they were at different stages of in-
stitutionalisation. The incumbent parties did not always exhibit a wider
range of activities than the newer parties. Although Partai Golkar had
the widest range of activities in Malang, PDIP only undertook a limited
range of activities. PKS was involved in a wider range of events than
PDIP. Thus, party age does not automatically translate into greater en-
gagement in activities; a party’s objectives and orientation are more
Although efforts to stay active represent a step forward in a party’s in-
stitutionalisation, the progress of Indonesian parties must be deter-
mined using other indicators as well. The parties now have the freedom

to recruit directly at the grass-roots level, which was denied them under
the New Order. The next chapter discusses the parties’ attitudes towards
grass-roots recruitment by investigating the perspectives of their leaders
and members on the importance of recruitment to a party’s success.
6 Recruitment Approaches

One indicator of the progress of the local organisation of political par-

ties is recruitment. The degree of coherence between a party’s national
policy and its local application is of particular concern here, as it reflects
a local branch’s degree of organisation (Janda 1980) and the extent to
which regulations issued by the party’s central office are followed.

The Dynamics of Membership for Political Parties

Recruitment is widely regarded as an indication of party success

(Klingemann & Fuchs 1995; Vanhanen 2000; Mair & van Biezen 2001).
In his classic study of political parties, Duverger (1964) argues that par-
ties can be differentiated by their emphases on recruitment. Traditional
mass parties aim to expand their membership, while cadre parties rely
on the quality of members to attract financiers. Although traditional
parties are more focused on membership numbers than are cadre par-
ties, grass-roots members play important roles in both. Duverger classi-
fies grass-roots members according to their roles in a party, from the
least to the most passionate and involved: ‘supporters’, ‘adherents’, ‘mil-
itants’ and ‘propagandists’ (1964: 61).
Yet grass-roots members are no longer featured widely in the modern
literature on political parties (Burrell 1986: 48). Contemporary discus-
sion of party recruitment is dominated instead by analyses of strategies
for the recruitment of candidates for elections and public office. In the
Handbook of Party Politics, Norris (2006) argues that recruitment is cru-
cial for political parties as it is the means of ‘electing representatives at
local and national level’, and for filling positions in important agencies
such as ‘non-governmental organisations and government branches and
federal agencies’. Her argument focuses on the destination of party re-
cruits rather than their origins, and ignores the practices of grass-roots
recruitment. Thus grass-roots recruitment is overshadowed in signifi-
cance by the objective of placing recruits in public positions.
A political party’s success as an organisation is, in fact, decided in
large part by how successful it is in acquiring candidates who are able
to offer choices to voters (Sanbonmatsu 2006: 233). Candidate recruit-

ment is a basic function of political parties, and a party that fails in this
area ‘surrenders its elemental opportunity for power’ (Sanbonmatsu
2006: 234, citing Seligman). In this sense, recruitment at the grass-
roots level is merely the first step in inducting potential candidates into
public positions. Political studies conducted in the United States have
tended to focus on individuals, and as a result parties have seemed less
significant than the candidates themselves (for example Dutwin 2000;
Jamieson 2000; Hagen 2000). However, other scholars have argued
that the ‘process of recruitment’ is one of the most important functions
of parties (Scarrow 2006: 89) because it determines the mechanism of
candidate selection and nomination (Sanbonmatsu 2006: 235). A party
organisation sets regulations that determine how individuals join the
party and decides whether those individuals are eligible to stand as can-
didates on that party’s behalf. And local party branch organisation is
crucial for the election of party candidates.
The emphasis on candidates in the scholarly literature that deals with
recruitment reflects a prominent trend in Western democracies:
namely, the decline in party membership. This decline indicates that
grass-roots recruitment for political parties has weakened; parties strug-
gle to recruit members and are perceived by the public to have declin-
ing importance. Yet the decline of political parties is still the subject of
debate, particularly over whether it is a widespread phenomenon or
merely a ‘nation-specific’ one, and there are ‘conceptual ambiguities
and measurement problems’ in distinguishing between changes in a
party system and a genuine decline in parties (Reiter 1989: 325-328).
Nonetheless, if the number of parties and the size of their member-
ships are used as indicators, parties are indeed suffering a decline in
some Western countries (Selle & Svasand 1991: 460). Also, in many
Asian countries, parties exhibit ‘undemocratic’ characteristics such as
‘the hierarchical domination by leaders, the prominence of personality
and personal ties, and lack of transparency in decision-making’, all of
which feed doubts and cynicism towards political parties (Sejong
Institute 2001: 2).1 This contributes to a lack of political participation
and a decline in party membership. Thus, although the causes of party
decline may differ between mature and transitional democracies, the ef-
fects are similar.2
The decline in membership of a party narrows the competition
among party members to become a candidate for office. It also opens
up opportunities for dedicated members to play more determinative
roles in the party. Von Beyme emphasises the importance of members
to party organisation, arguing that parties are born from their members
and that well-organised parties are those that are able to organise their
voters (1985: 159-160). Scarrow (1996: 27-51) compares the costs and
benefits of members and lists only two costs that parties have to pay

(programmatic costs and opportunity costs), while the benefits number

eight (legitimacy, direct electoral support, outreach, financing, labour,
linkage, innovation and personnel). Thus, although contemporary dis-
cussions of the role of party members tend to bypass grass-roots recruit-
ment, members and membership remain crucial for political parties
and therefore parties still compete with one another to build their mem-
bership bases.
The importance of grass-roots recruitment is reflected in discussions
of party institutionalisation. Scholars include various aspects of recruit-
ment as part of the institutionalisation process. Panebianco (1988) and
Janda (1993) point out that reliance on leaders’ charisma as a party re-
cruitment strategy is a strong hindrance to party institutionalisation.
They argue that parties must not rely on an individual’s persona to at-
tract support, although admiration for party leaders usually does con-
tribute to the base of support for a party. Parties should be able to ap-
peal to would-be members on the basis of their programmes and plat-
forms instead. Burrell (1986: 49) argues that parties’ ‘vitality’ is shown
by continuing to attract new members, suggesting that ideally parties
should continue to innovate and develop rather than trading on the cha-
risma of particular leaders. Thus, a party which prioritises recruitment
will have specific recruitment strategies.
As Scarrow (1986) observes, parties provide incentives for individuals
who perform the tasks that the parties value most. Studies on recruit-
ment practices reveal that when a party considers recruitment a priority,
it will aggressively seek to attract members, such as by offering incen-
tives. Seyd & Whiteley (2004: 360-361) view the promises that parties
make to members about their influence in decision-making as a crucial
step in party institutionalisation. Scarrow (2005: 6) identifies intra-party
democracy as a specific requirement for institutionalisation, one that
signifies the allocation of power in decision-making to members. These
arguments suggest that luring potential members with promises of
greater power is a strong sign that recruitment is a party priority. For
example, Britain’s Labour and Conservative Parties promised potential
members that they would exert more influence in the parties through
the adoption of intra-party direct democracy (see Seyd 1999: 383). The
Canadian New Democratic Party adopted the same strategy, giving
members a ‘meaningful role in party decision-making’ (Cross & Young
2004: 429). The Scottish Socialist Party, which considers recruitment
‘an essential part of what they do’, attempts to recruit members by run-
ning membership stalls and social events (Opinion Leader Research
2005: 21).3
Another important factor in the success of parties’ recruitment strat-
egies is the position of the party within the wider political milieu. As
Selle & Svasand (1991) point out, when a party has little influence in

political decision-making, it may suffer from a decrease in the quality

of its recruitment, which in turn can force the party to lower its mem-
bership requirements. Hence, parties which have not been successful
in elections could be forced to lower their membership entry require-
ments. Selle & Svasand present a Norwegian case study where parties
worked to enlarge their membership bases but still experienced low par-
ticipation rates (1991: 462-467), highlighting the fact that parties some-
times have to choose between large and active memberships. It is im-
portant for a party to formulate effective recruitment strategies to not
only attract members but also to cultivate their attachment and

Perceptions of Recruitment

Scarrow (2005: 12) argues that a party wishing to develop its organisa-
tion at the local level will delegate recruitment to its local branches.
This suggests that the strength of a party’s grass-roots membership
base depends on the efforts of its local branches to organise recruit-
ment and their ability to do so.
In this chapter I examine the management of party recruitment by
the local branches of Partai Golkar, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia
Perjuangan, Partai Amanat Nasional, and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera. The
two incumbent parties, we will see, chose to focus on maintaining high
numbers of votes in elections rather than larger memberships. These
older parties, PDIP and Partai Golkar, were less active in recruiting than
the newer parties because they relied on loyal supporters accumulated
over a long period of time. On the other hand, the younger parties, PKS
and PAN, saw recruitment as crucial for developing their support bases.
However, although PKS and PAN both believed that recruitment was quite
important, at the local level only PKS was aggressive and efficient in or-
ganising recruitment activities. PAN was unable to conduct recruitment
effectively due to its chaotic local administration. The diverse ap-
proaches to recruitment adopted within each party indicated that while
recruitment policy was specifically regulated by a party’s constitution, at
the local level recruitment very much depended on the particular cir-
cumstances of the branch.

Partai Golkar
During the period of my fieldwork, Partai Golkar put more emphasis
on attracting and maintaining votes than it did on attracting members.
Partai Golkar did not prioritise the recruitment of new members, as it
had been able to rely on its existing membership for success in the

1999 and 2004 elections, which proved that it had a solid base of loyal
supporters. It had done very well in elections during the New Order as
well,4 and despite allegations of foul play, the level of genuine support
for the party remained significant.5 As evidence of its strength, the party
successfully nominated its party chairperson, Akbar Tandjung, for the
position of chair of DPR (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, or People’s
Representative Council) after the 1999 election, and support for the
party was crucial in the election of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) as
the fourth president of Indonesia in 1999.6
Aside from its existing support base, Partai Golkar had other assets.
One of the advantages of being an incumbent party with a wide net-
work of sub-organisations, or unsur-unsur, is that the party could dele-
gate the tasks of promoting its platform and attracting attention to these
bodies, which extended all the way down to the community level (Tim
Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 404). Some of these sub-
organisations had formed the core of Sekber Golkar when it was estab-
lished in 19647 and they had developed so rapidly that they had to be
brought together into seven main groups.8 After the fall of Suharto in
1998, the party had faced various internal conflicts,9 and as a result one
of the KINOs (Kelompok Induk Organisasi, or Parent Groupings of
Organisations), the MKGR (Musyawarah Kekeluargaan Gotong Royong),
left the party and founded its own party. However, the other KINOs re-
mained active in local communities. Some of the most active KINOs at
the time of my study were the Angkatan Muda Pembaharuan Indonesia
(Indonesia’s Young Generation of Renewal, or AMPI), Himpunan Wanita
Karya (Women’s Functional Group, or HWK), Majelis Dakwah Islamiyah
(Islamic Proselytising Council), Satkar Ulama (Satuan Karya Ulama,
Ulama Functional Union), Al Hidayah (literally: the divine enlighten-
ment), Angkatan Muda Partai Golkar (Young Generation of the Golkar
Party) and Keluarga Intelek Muda Partai Golkar (Young Intellectual
Families of the Golkar Party). These groups had extensive operations at
the local level. Leadership of these groups afforded prestige, which is
often used as a means to enter local bureaucracy – creating closer con-
nections between these groups and government.
As a result of its lack of emphasis on mass membership, Partai
Golkar’s recruitment policies were rather passive. Although Partai
Golkar’s pre-1999 election platform claimed that one of its functions
was to recruit quality cadres through a merit-based system to fill public
positions, the party’s AD/ART (Anggaran Dasar/Anggaran Rumah Tangga
or Organisation Statutes/Bylaws) did not specify particular requirements
for grass-roots applicants seeking membership, which would be a strong
indication of a more stringent recruitment policy.10 In terms of grass-
roots recruitment, there was no specific formulation of strategies, despite
the platform promising party members more power in decision-making

(Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 396). The party

adopted this approach as a way of establishing itself as an independent
party, free from the influence of the government and the army.11
Giving members more influence was one way the party sought to at-
tract new support in the post-New Order period. According to studies of
recruitment strategies in the British context, the promise of more power
is an incentive that attracts party members (Seyd 1999; Seyd &
Whiteley 2004). However, in stark contrast with the British parties
studied by Seyd & Whiteley, Partai Golkar did not actively hold specific
recruitment activities where its more democratic structure could be pro-
moted and enhanced access to decision-making roles could only be en-
joyed by existing party members. The party’s national recruitment ap-
proach projected an attitude of complacency and passivity, combined
with a heavy reliance on sub-organisations for recruitment.
Still, the party had evolved. In its national policies of recruitment,
Partai Golkar showed two signs of institutionalisation. Firstly, there was
the party’s decision to assign recruitment responsibilities to local offi-
ces, giving them power to assess membership applications. Scarrow
(2005: 12) argues that giving an official body responsibility for recruit-
ment and power to reject applicants is a sign of an institutionalised
party.12 Secondly, and more importantly, institutionalisation was evident
in the local branches’ capacity to maintain coherence between national
policies and grass-roots practices.
In its kodya and kabupaten offices in Malang, Partai Golkar’s recruit-
ment approaches echoed the approaches adopted at the national level.
The leaders in kodya and kabupaten Malang were very confident of the
level of public support enjoyed by the party, which had membership
numbers of 2,800 in the kodya and 15,000 in the kabupaten in 2008.13
The kodya chairperson did not identify member recruitment as a party
priority and mentioned that the most important thing for the party was
to consolidate its sub-organisations, or unsur-unsur.14 Such confidence
in the party’s public support was fueled by a belief that other parties
had failed when given the chance to govern. As one Golkar leader said:
‘Other parties who previously criticised Golkar turned out to be unable
to lead, so people came back to Golkar’.15
The kodya chairperson, Pak Aries, specifically argued that the unsur-
unsur were one of the keys to the party’s success. He believed that the
consolidation of the various groups would strengthen the party, particu-
larly because they had intimate knowledge of the various communities
in which they operated.16 This local knowledge was significant in estab-
lishing relationships with the local community, as well as in anticipat-
ing the actions of rival parties in particular areas. The chairperson made
particular mention of two of the sub-organisations, HWK (Himpunan
Wanita Karya, or Women’s Functional Group) and AMPI (Angkatan

Muda Pembaruan Indonesia, or Indonesia’s Young Generation of

Renewal).17 Pak Aries indicated that he paid special attention to these
groups, arranging for regular discussions with their representatives.18
The kabupaten secretary, Pak Andi, supported the notion that the un-
sur-unsur were significant for Partai Golkar’s recruitment. He specifi-
cally mentioned religious groups (kelompok-kelompok agama) and profes-
sional groups (kelompok-kelompok profesional). Since these groups inter-
acted with the community directly, they were good at drawing in
potential members and persuading them to join the party. Pak Andi al-
so explained that the party held events relevant to the different groups
to create opportunities to mingle with the community, and emphasised
the party’s confidence in the ability of these groups to attract support.19
One example of how these groups interacted with the community
and played a recruitment role for the party was seen in an HWK meeting
held in kecamatan Kepanjen (a subdivision of kabupaten Malang).20 The
meeting was followed by a bazaar which was open to the public. During
this event, party members and cadres chatted with visitors and gave ex-
planations about the party and its activities.21 Pak Andi claimed that the
unsur-unsur were the backbone of recruitment in kabupaten Malang, as
they were responsible for the registration of 60 per cent of new mem-
bers. This suggests that the unsur-unsur were indeed useful in drawing
attention and support and that the party successfully made use of these
organisations to ‘realise its vision and mission’ (Tim Penelitian dan
Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 404).
The members of Partai Golkar’s unsur-unsur and other Golkar cadres
played even more important roles in recruitment where they held pub-
lic positions in the local community, such as head of the RW (Rukun
Warga, Community Association) or RT (Rukun Tetangga or Neighbour-
hood Association).22 Around 40 per cent of recruitment in the kabupa-
ten region was accomplished by these pamong desa (village officials).
Holding public positions gave Partai Golkar cadres an advantage in
their efforts to attract members, as patron-client relationships are still
dominant in this setting. Villagers have strong respect for their village
officials, who they tend to follow when making their political choices.23
Pamong desa who were also Partai Golkar cadres used these patron-
client relationships to influence villagers to support the party. The con-
centration of Partai Golkar members in local administrative structures
allowed the party to remain prevalent at the grass-roots, a fact reflected
in the party’s passive recruitment strategy.
In short, Partai Golkar focused on candidate recruitment, while
grass-roots recruitment at the local level was passive in the sense that it
relied heavily on its affiliated organisations. The party’s lack of a specif-
ic recruitment tactic was perhaps reflected in the different answers giv-
en by Partai Golkar members when asked why they had chosen to join

the party. These answers included: to improve their organisational

skills; because Partai Golkar had competent people and was a modern
organisation; because family members had asked them to join; and sim-
ply because they were looking for something to do.24 Because of Partai
Golkar’s inherited advantages as a legacy party and the solid work of its
sub-organisations and cadres in ensuring continuing support for it,
there was no need for aggressive recruitment campaigns.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan

Although PDIP lacked the same extensive network of sub-organisations,
its own incumbent status had bestowed other privileges that it could
use to maintain public support, particularly the enduring charismatic
power of the party’s leaders. Support for the party was heavily based on
the personal charisma of Sukarno (also known as Bung Karno) as a
party pioneer, and his daughter Megawati as the current party leader.
Megawati’s leadership and the lingering admiration for her father had
created a stable and long-lasting support base, particularly in the tradi-
tional PNI stronghold of Java (especially East Java) and amongst
Christian and Catholic voters in Eastern Indonesia (Tim Penelitian dan
Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 367). The star quality of these two indi-
viduals continued to attract and sustain support for the party. PDIP aimed
to develop its support base further by courting the votes of the younger
generation of Indonesians.25
But although it acknowledged the need to expand its support base,
PDIP failed to develop more aggressive recruitment policies. Before the
2004 election, it was clear within the party that both the quantity and
quality of its human resources were lacking, and goals were set to over-
come this problem (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004:
365).26 However, although the PDIP attempted to improve the quality of
its cadres by conducting various training programmes (Tim Penelitian
dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 365-366), no specific national-level
policy was formulated to attract more members. The only reference to
recruitment in the party constitution states that one duty of members is
to bring in at least one new member.27 The actual application of this
duty, however, depended on the commitment of the individual member,
I observed, as there was no sanction for failure to do so. At the local lev-
el in Malang, this regulation was not enforced. The party constitution
also has provisions for a special one-month training programme to be
completed by applicants who wish to register to become members.28
However, in practice the formulation of these regulations left opportuni-
ties for violations at the local level.
A comparison between PDIP’s national recruitment policy and its local
application in Malang showed a number of other discrepancies,

generally caused by the inefficiencies of the local branches. For exam-

ple, at the national level, PDIP had assigned an official body to decide on
membership applications,29 but locally in Malang the inactive nature of
the branches meant that no such body existed. One case study of PDIP
in East Java more generally revealed that support for the party was
dwindling, as its recruitment mechanisms were disorganised and the
party’s image was tarnished by party cadres involved in various legal
cases (Yanuarti in Romli 2003: 115-116).
Like Partai Golkar, PDIP sought to use pamong desa (village officials) as
its means of recruitment. However, the party’s Pak Bambang admitted
that there was far more involved in this approach than simply helping
villagers meet their needs. PDIP’s decision to trade on the influence of
village officials reflected a pattern for incumbent parties, one that
clearly distinguished them from the new parties, who may not yet have
cadres holding government positions. The only other mention made of
this particular recruitment tactic in the interviews I conducted was in
reference to the important role of cadres in the recruitment process.
One PDIP grass-roots recruitment strategy relied on personal approaches
by cadres, persuading individuals to join the party. Pak Bambang
stressed the importance of adopting a ‘sensitive’ approach. He ex-
plained that each cadre needed to know how to speak to different kinds
of people – for instance, both urban and rural people – in order to be ef-
fective and create a positive image for the party.30
Like Partai Golkar, during my fieldwork PDIP was focused more on at-
tracting votes than recruiting members, which was reflected in its ef-
forts to gain sympathy from the community. Pak Bambang believed that
people would remember if they received a good impression of the party,
and would base their vote on it. As an example, he described how PDIP
cadres had helped find the drowned boy mentioned earlier, and how
the PDIP had solidly won an election in that village shortly afterwards.
One method of personal approach used by the PDIP was to organise
events where cadres could interact with the general public, such as
through pengajian or bhakti sosial. Pak Bambang emphasised that such
social events should appeal to the public so as to effectively reach as
many people as possible and give cadres an opportunity to interact di-
rectly with the public. He also revealed that PDIP had a particular interest
in providing facilities for villagers as a strategy for attracting their votes.
Pak Bambang explained that the party tried to be sensitive to the needs
and demands of villages, and attempted to help them where possible.
For instance, when a village’s bridge was broken or when sanitation fa-
cilities needed fixing, PDIP tried to lend a hand by providing money and
labour to help the villages fix them. Pak Bambang argued that this strat-
egy was effective in persuading people that the party cared about
them.31 The strategies described by Pak Bambang suggest a preference

for an indirect approach to attract sympathy, rather than direct, aggres-

sive recruitment. But Pak Bambang was concerned that this was the on-
ly method being employed by the party, and he believed that the party
should be doing more, especially with competition from new parties.32
In the absence of clearly structured institutional recruitment practi-
ces, party members in Malang asserted that PDIP’s main pulling power
was the charisma of the Sukarno family and the enduring respect the
public had for them. In 2008, PDIP’s kodya branch had around 61,000
members and PDIP kabupaten had around 133,500 members.33 When
asked for their reasons for joining the PDIP, members gave answers
such as their ‘admiration towards Bung Karno’s family’, the fact that it
was ‘the party that cares the most for the ordinary citizens’, and ‘the
person I have always idolised is Bung Karno’.34 Aside from Sukarno’s
profile, to some extent the party’s strength came from its ideology.
Interviews with local leaders revealed that the party was confident in its
ideology and that its ideology was the ‘glue’ that kept party activists
committed.35 However, while PDIP’s official ideology is Pancasila, the
‘ideology’ referred to by party members and cadres was more closely as-
sociated with the party’s image as a party of the ‘common people’, or
‘little people (wong cilik)’.36
In sum, discussions with party leaders indicated that the application
of national recruitment policies varied according to the requirements of
each village. Hence there were diverse approaches and discrepancies
with national policies. PDIP’s main goal was to ensure that people voted
for it during elections rather than joined as members. As a result, little
attention was paid to nationally mandated recruitment mechanisms,
such as the one-month mandatory training course for potential mem-
bers.37 Both national policy and local recruitment practices relied on
supporters’ attachments to Bung Karno and his family, and perceptions
of the party as partai orang kecil (the ordinary/little people’s party).

Partai Amanat Nasional

PAN showed the greatest incoherence between national policies and the
local application of recruitment strategies in the Malang area.
Aggressive recruitment was a priority in PAN’s national-level policy, but
local branches failed to execute it. At the national level, the priority
placed on recruitment was reflected in a programme called Mabita38
(Masa Bimbingan Calon Anggota, or Potential Member’s Socialisation
Period). This programme is an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the
party and promote it. The programme starts at the basic level of party
cadre (Kader Amanat Dasar) in the kabupaten and goes to the highest
level of party cadre (Kader Amanat Utama) at the central office. The
programme was supplemented by visits to towns and villages during

my study, as well as by the presidential campaign of the party’s Amien

Rais, which created additional awareness and support for the party
(Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 232). PAN’s primary
source of support was Amien Rais himself, who appealed to
Indonesia’s young generation as a pioneer of the reform movement,
suggesting that PAN, like PDIP, is a charisma-based party. Rais’s profile
as a Muslim scholar enhanced PAN’s capacity to attract well-educated
members. PAN’s attempts to raise public awareness of the party resulted
in successful party penetration at the kecamatan level. PAN’s goal
of enlarging itself was reflected in its declaration of its status as an
open party for semua kalangan (all groups) (Tim Penelitian dan
Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 231). However, in practice, this ap-
proach presented a major challenge in that Amien Rais was also a lead-
er of a large Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah.39 Thus, the ‘open
policy’ was closely associated with, and limited to, Muhammadiyah
sympathisers. What’s more, the party’s constitution states that party
members should be prepared to dedicate their time and wealth to the
party, further limiting involvement.40 While ostensibly an open party,
PAN’s actual practices limited member registration and suitability for
candidacy in elections.
The closeness between PAN, Rais and Muhammadiyah sparked
criticism of the party’s ideology. Observers have noted that PAN has a
strong pluralist base,41 but, in practice, the party has tended to utilise
its association with Muhammadiyah. PAN’s failure to develop an open
membership was reflected in its tendency to favour candidates with a
Muhammadiyah background (CSIS 2005). I found that some members
were attracted to the party because of its association with this Muslim
organisation. Inconsistencies in the implementation of the party’s ideol-
ogy demonstrated a lack of ideological focus in PAN’s administration.
PAN’s administrative problems were clearly reflected in its recruitment
difficulties. The party’s local branches generally recognised recruitment
as important and requiring improved performance. Kabupaten office
chairperson Pak Widodo expressed concern that party members had
been swayed to join other parties – especially PKS – and believed that
the party should formulate a more effective recruitment strategy.42 He
also stressed the importance of party training for cadres because ‘cadres
at beginner level are easier to switch parties’, so they needed to be con-
vinced to stay in the party. He likened party choice to ‘switching be-
tween television channels’, given the freedom to choose among so
many parties. Another reason recruitment was important to PAN was its
heavy reliance on donations from party supporters and members. Pak
Widodo saw donations as a symbol of loyalty. Although the kabupaten
office did not impose dues payments on members, they were encour-
aged to contribute nonetheless.43

Despite claims by the party’s Malang branches that members had a

significant role in the party, particularly as an important source of fund-
ing, branch efforts to attract new recruits were minimal and erratic. Pak
Widodo explained that, generally, recruitment was conducted using a
one-on-one approach. In 2008, membership figures stood at 2,500 for
the kodya office and 80,000 for the kabupaten office.44 For PAN, then,
like PDIP, local recruitment depended heavily on the commitment of ca-
dres, who paid private visits to potential members to try and persuade
them to join the party. This approach was usually followed by an invita-
tion to attend party activities, usually in the form of bakti sosial/baksos.
But PAN’s approach was more systematic than PDIP’s. When explaining it
in detail, cadres noted that the recruitment process started at the ranting
level,45 where the ranting leaders would build a database of potential
members and then ask cadres to follow up with a personal approach.46
The same method was applied to new members, who, after registering,
were also approached by cadres and enrolled in training programmes.
These measures, although apparently beneficial, were in fact heavily de-
pendent on the will and commitment of cadres, as they were not en-
forced by the party. Consequently, although theoretically recruitment
should have been a continuous process, in reality cadres faced serious
difficulties in carrying out their duties due to branch disorganisation.
The lack of organisation of PAN’s Malang branches was, in fact, the
biggest obstacle to recruitment. As explained in previous chapters, both
branches were looking for new offices during my fieldwork, which
meant that they could only organise minimal activities. Their inefficien-
cies led to the abandonment of party recruitment activities as well.
Without a physical office as an organising point, it was difficult for the
branches to conduct any recruitment activities at all. In the kodya office,
a handful of dedicated cadres had their hands full with administrative
matters, while in the kabupaten branch the chairperson was handling al-
most all party matters himself, making it unrealistic for him to organise
recruitment effectively.
Although PAN’s national policy documents clearly identified recruit-
ment as a significant priority, the application of this policy at the local
level depended on local circumstances. While PAN’s policy of empower-
ing local offices to manage recruitment suggests that the party was in-
stitutionalising (Scarrow 2005), the fact that its local branches were un-
able to manage recruitment suggests that this policy had failed. The
party’s dependence on local branches was also complicated by its reli-
ance on the participation and contributions of members for tasks asso-
ciated with the party’s daily operation, which demanded a steady stream
of highly dedicated new recruits. PAN Malang demonstrates that
although branch leaders’ commitment is crucial for a party office’s
smooth operation, it is not sufficient, and that there also needs to be

significant involvement from a relatively large number of cadres and

members. Most importantly, PAN’s recruitment failure reaffirms that
branch organisation is vital for ensuring that parties are capable of exe-
cuting their programmes.

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

PKS is an excellent example of a party with an aggressive recruitment
policy that has been successfully implemented. At the national level, the
PKS recruitment policy aimed to create high-quality cadres who would
make capable leaders (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas
2004: 324). The party’s policies on registration and recruitment were
specific and rigorous during my study. The stringent registration policy
was reflected in PKS’s constitution, which specifies clearly that in order
to become a member an interested person must present a formal, writ-
ten request to the central secretariat through Dewan Pimpinan Daerah
(DPD, or Regional Leadership Council) (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera
2006).47 After submitting the request, the individual is enrolled in spe-
cific training programmes at the local level, which he or she must com-
plete before being officially recognised as a member by the DPD.
At the local level in Malang, PKS’s general recruitment strategy in-
volved open recruitment using two specific methods. The formal meth-
od involved specific actions such as putting up banners, distributing
flyers and holding open houses. This was complemented by a more in-
formal approach, where cadres made personal approaches to members
of the public. The party branches ensured that formal recruitment activ-
ities were conducted regularly in order to reach as many people as pos-
sible. The party cadres who made the personal approaches were at that
time mainly Muslim students. As a result, prospective recruits were
often approached at schools and campuses.48 This practice reflected the
party’s focus on young Muslim intellectuals. The cadres were organised
by the local ranting and interested would-be members were advised to
contact cadres there.49 These schemes resulted in membership figures
of 4,000 for the kodya branch and 2,600 for the kabupaten branch by
2008.50 The PKS’s emphasis on aggressive recruitment reflected the im-
portant role members played in the party.
Interestingly, given its focus on young middle-class Muslims and its
identity as an Islamic party, PKS did not require potential members to be
Muslims. However, the party induction ceremony required members to
recite Arabic verses usually known only to Muslims, and as PKS kabupa-
ten leader Pak Sophya pointed out, the party attracted supporters using
Islamic values.
PKS’s overt Islamism meant that it had to compete with other Islamic
parties to attract supporters and members. Pak Sophya stressed that PKS

offered an alternative to the other parties, however, and that according

to Islam the party’s organisation was important:

Because we are an Islamic party, what we emphasise is people’s

rights and duties as Muslims. This is not only about being ‘faith-
ful’ – there is also the aspect of organisation. We emphasise that
the disorganised ‘good’ will lose against organised ‘bad’. And
Islam is a good thing, [but] when not organised well, it is unreli-
able. [So what we do] translates to the processes of enlighten-
ment. 51

PKS also hoped to explicitly differentiate itself from other parties on the
basis of its work ethic. Pak Sophya argued that PKS was better than other
parties because

the orientation of other parties perhaps is funding issue, etc. In

our case, we work for a faith that is abstract, but we believe in it.
When the others are tired of working, we keep going; this is be-
cause of motivation. This is what is being built.52

Another way in which PKS incorporated Islam into its party ideology was
through its effort to convince potential members that PKS was the best
choice to help renew the country.53 Pak Sophya pointed to the impor-
tance of PKS’s role in this process:

Generally, we want to change everything for the better. At the na-

tional level and beyond, to create a good society. When every-
thing improves, later on the party image as an Islamic party will
improve. Besides that, the role of PKS as an Islamic party really
exists, and the nuance of service for the people will be created.
And we would also like to stress [that we are a] professional
party, meaning a party that is amanah,54 so people will have a
choice, have hope, in PKS with the good individuals. We start in-
ternally first, by showing a good example. 55

In order to convince supporters that they were being offered something

new, the party also focused on being a ‘clean’ party, that is, free from
the corruption and money-related violations associated with the older
parties. The party insisted that it operated on Islamic faith and dis-
tanced itself from any practice that violated Islamic laws. This suggests
that PKS’s goals centred on building a society that adhered more closely
to Islam rather than simply filling public positions in the government.
PKS’s approach, which identified Islam as a vital component to be in-
corporated into every Muslim’s daily life, aimed to convince Muslims to

examine their adherence to the Islamic way of life, consider what they
needed to do to improve, and identify what the party could offer to as-
sist them. These aims showed the party’s commitment to taking an in-
tegrated Islamic approach to party-building, whose members could set
an example to others about Muslim values and lifestyle. Interviews with
party members in kodya and kabupaten Malang indicated that the PKS’s
strategy of attracting support by creating a positive image had been suc-
cessful. New members were convinced to sign up because they believed
PKS was different from other parties and that party members were mod-
el Muslims.56 The strategy of going directly to the grass-roots was also
seen as positive by members, and it created a sense that the party genu-
inely cared about the people. As indicated by my interviews with PAN
leaders, PKS was successful in persuading members of other parties to
switch their allegiances.57
As mentioned, PKS was generally more aggressive in recruiting mem-
bers than the other three parties. Its strategy was more direct and inten-
sive, and it reached down to the grass-roots level. The party branches or-
ganised and executed their recruitment strategies according to the na-
tional policy, thereby replicating those of their more established
counterparts in Western democracies. In terms of recruitment strategy,
then, PKS showed clear signs of institutionalising, with coherence be-
tween national policy and local application, and the delegation of re-
cruitment responsibilities to local offices.

Comparison of Different Recruitment Approaches

The freedom of the four parties’ local branches to conduct recruitment

was a clear change from the practices allowed by the New Order govern-
ment. As we will see, they have made use of their new opportunities to
connect with people at the grass roots and engage them in party activ-
ities. Scholars believe that by recruiting members, parties give citizens
the chance to be actively involved in politics and elections – an impor-
tant prerequisite for democracy (Dahl 1998: 37-38). The freedom of par-
ties to function independently fosters progress toward institutionalisa-
tion, which is crucial if parties are to contribute to the democratic tran-
sition process in new democracies (Mainwaring & Scully 1995).
The efforts by the four parties examined here to engage with their
members and society in general suggest that they were making prog-
ress in involving people in politics (Dahl 1998: 37-38). These efforts also
clearly indicate the parties’ recognition of the importance of their mem-
bers as a source of candidates for party positions, and of the importance
of their participation in party activities. Moreover, the parties’ acknowl-
edgement of their members was growing. The most important indicator

of this acknowledgement was their granting of greater power to their

members in internal decision-making. The parties’ regulations clearly
state that party members are to be consulted in decision-making. Party
members indicated that these rules were applied strictly, and that they
were able to take part in party meetings and influence party decisions.
These efforts are another indication that the parties were making prog-
ress toward institutionalisation. Giving greater power to members also
showed application of the principles of intra-party democracy which, ac-
cording to Scarrow (2005), indicates party institutionalisation as well.
However, the parties did not specifically promote their promise of great-
er decision-making power for members externally in their recruitment
campaigns. Although members confirmed that they had greater say in
their party, the fact that the parties did not actively promote that in their
recruitment campaigns suggested that this tactic was not seen as impor-
tant in attracting support.
The four parties also showed signs of institutionalising in their dele-
gation of the management of recruitment to local branches (Scarrow
2005). Such delegation is a clear sign that party organisation is suffi-
ciently developed to distribute power to subordinate offices. Cadres
played a very important role in recruitment in each of the four parties.
Cadres from each party adopted the same method, namely a personal
approach. But while PKS cadres and leaders demonstrated awareness of
the significance of recruitment for their party and thus gave attention to
it, PAN leaders, who shared their conviction that recruitment was impor-
tant, did not give any specific attention to it. The cadres of Partai
Golkar and PDIP, though they generally employed a personal approach
during party events, could be sporadic in their recruitment efforts.
There were also more significant variations in how the parties ap-
proached recruitment, which raised questions about the progress of in-
stitutionalisation. As incumbent parties, Partai Golkar and PDIP had sim-
ilar approaches to maintaining their existing support bases. However,
they went about this in different ways. While Partai Golkar relied on
the work of its sub-organisations, PDIP placed more emphasis on provid-
ing care and assistance to local communities. In both cases, though, re-
liance on pamong desa for recruitment pointed to the continuing impor-
tance of patronage as a means of broadening support. Partai Golkar’s
sub-organisations focused on maintaining the party’s popularity in or-
der to retain votes. Seeking new member registrations was less impor-
tant, although welcome. Partai Golkar no longer had the advantage of
automatic recruitment of government officials as it had during the New
Order,58 and now had to create an independent image and conduct its
own recruitment. But recruitment was not a party priority due to its ex-
tensive existing support base. PDIP’s own low-key approach to recruit-
ment was shown by its reluctance to enforce the party’s rule that each

member must recruit another member. However, while the charisma of

PDIP’s leaders was key to maintaining PDIP’s support base, Partai Golkar
relied on its platforms and new image to maintain support. For these
two incumbent parties, the priority was not to sign up new members,
but to convince voters – whether members or not – to keep voting for
The incumbents had the advantage over the new parties of having ex-
isting resources which could be utilised to attract sympathy and culti-
vate a network of support. Partai Golkar relied on its existing unsur-
unsur (sub-organisations) to exert influence at the grass-roots level. PDIP
utilised the lingering admiration felt in the community for Bung Karno
and Megawati to sustain the party’s immense support base.59 These ad-
vantages put the incumbents in a strong position relative to the young
parties, who were in an earlier phase of building public support and
Partai Golkar’s and PDIP’s access to pamong desa as an important
means of recruitment was another advantage that they shared. This re-
cruitment strategy was more feasible for incumbent parties than new
parties, as they tended to have more personnel working in the village
administration. But while Partai Golkar clearly acknowledged the influ-
ence of pamong desa in attracting people to the party, PDIP said that it
was more difficult to use pamong desa for recruitment than other meth-
ods. In practice, then, the use of pamong desa in recruitment might ac-
tually be limited to Partai Golkar only.
As new parties, PAN and PKS felt more urgency to recruit than did
Partai Golkar and PDIP. They needed to build membership bases which
could support them, especially during elections, based on the premise
that members provide more secure votes than non-member supporters
(Scarrow 1996). However, the two parties differed in the aggressiveness
of their recruiting, with PKS clearly the more aggressive. While PKS con-
ducted frequent recruitment activities, PAN failed to organise any recruit-
ment campaigns at the local level during the period of my study.
Though PAN relied heavily on its leader’s charisma for recruitment, PKS’s
main recruitment weapon was its image. More importantly, PAN’s local
organisational problems created difficulties in executing party pro-
grammes, while PKS, although equally young, demonstrated a more ma-
ture local organisational capacity.
Thus, the practices associated with incumbency and newness do not
explain all the similarities and differences between the four parties.
Indeed, all four parties attracted members through their images. Partai
Golkar’s electoral successes can be attributed to both the popularity of
its new image and the loyalty of its support base from the time of
Suharto.60 PKS experienced strong growth in its support base due to its
image as a clean Islamic party.61 PDIP’s image as the nationalist party of

the ‘little people’ aided its recruitment programme, while PAN’s close as-
sociation with Muhammadiyah contributed to its popularity. However,
two of the four parties also relied significantly on leaders’ charisma to
attract support. As we have seen, some PDIP and PAN members became
members out of fondness for their party leaders, Megawati and Amien
Rais, respectively.62 On the other hand, Partai Golkar and PKS members
were more interested in their parties’ programmes and images.63
Janda’s model of party organisation that necessitates party pro-
gramme to be the main point of attraction for potential members,
would suggest that PDIP’s and PAN’s progress towards institutionalisation
was less advanced than that of the other two parties (Janda 1993: 167).
This notion is strengthened by Panebianco’s argument that ‘the absence
of a founder’s charisma predicts strong party institutionalisation’ (1988:
50-52). However, while one of the parties reliant on a charismatic figure
is an incumbent party (PDIP), the other (PAN) is not. This indicates that
party age has little to do with dependence on charismatic leaders to at-
tract support. Incumbents may be as incapable as younger parties of
creating a party attachment beyond admiration for a leader.
At the national level, the four parties all claimed that human resour-
ces were a priority. However, my research suggests that local party
branches may face challenges in executing such a policy. In Partai
Golkar’s case, the branches were crucial in coordinating the activities of
sub-organisations, while PDIP’s branches had to be sensitive in identify-
ing local community needs. For these two parties’ branches, organisa-
tion and coordination were key to ensuring that different tasks were
conducted. Although PAN and PKS both aimed to sign up as many new
members as possible, the effectiveness of this strategy depended on the
branches’ ability to implement it. The extraordinary difference between
PAN’s and PKS’s recruitment strategies in Malang was due to different
levels of efficiency in their party organisation. PAN’s local branches in
Malang were overwhelmed by their lack of administrative efficiency, re-
sulting in an almost total cessation of their activities. PKS, on the other
hand, had much better organised branches which were able to maintain
the party’s activities in the face of similar challenges.
Branch organisation plays a crucial role in the member registration
process. Although all four parties had regulations that specifically re-
quired members to formally apply for registration, in practice it was dif-
ficult to apply these regulations strictly, especially in the case of the new
parties. When the new parties were first established, applicants were
usually admitted as members directly. Only relatively recently did the
new parties attempt to enforce their own rules. The incumbent parties
were even less likely to implement a formal registration process; mem-
bers stated that they had registered without making a formal request.
Some supporters of the incumbent parties had joined party activities

without registering beforehand, and were issued membership cards as

a result. Thus, despite being more mature organisations, the incumbent
parties did not find it necessary to strictly apply their member applica-
tion rules. One explanation is their steady existing support, which made
the need to sign up new members less urgent. These divergences be-
tween formal registration requirements and local practices for the dif-
ferent parties raise questions about the level of coherence between their
national and local administrations. The most prominent divergence be-
tween central policy and local implementation was seen in recruitment,
such as PDIP’s rule of one member bringing in at least one more mem-
ber, which was not enforced. While the parties’ formal regulations may
indicate that a process of institutionalisation was occurring, this might
not be the case at the branch level. The local offices may face difficulties
that the national policy did not anticipate, with the offices’ inefficiencies
compromising the party’s overall image. Furthermore, a lack of coher-
ence between national and local policies may indicate a lack of party or-
ganisation, which in turn raises doubts about the actual extent of a
party’s institutionalisation.
Although they chose different recruitment methods and approaches,
the parties shared a similar objective. All four parties sought to make
connections with the local community. Partai Golkar aimed to achieve
this by using its sub-organisations to engage local people. PDIP and PAN
conducted community-based activities such as bhakti sosial. In contrast,
PKS chose to distribute leaflets in public places, so that the cadres
could directly interact with the general public. But no method of re-
cruitment was exclusive to a particular party, suggesting that the par-
ties were open to adopting different methods to connect with the
By running membership stalls and social events to attract members,
PKS displayed a very active recruitment strategy, in contrast to the other
parties, who chose more passive means of attracting members. As de-
scribed by its local leaders, PKS’s recruitment policies were also cohe-
sive. The recruitment efforts of the other parties, on the other hand,
were half-hearted and individualistic, though they recognised the impor-
tance of recruitment. PKS was also successful in managing local activ-
ities. However, PKS’s approach to such management was still not as ag-
gressive as those of parties described in studies of other countries. For
instance, the type of sacrifice by leaders and the incentives given to
those who perform a party’s most important tasks, as Scarrow (1996)
describes in her study of parties in Germany and Britain, were not ap-
parent in the four parties here. Even within PKS, which made recruit-
ment its top priority, there was no specific reward for cadres who did
one-on-one recruiting. Thus, the parties’ recruitment approaches may
need to be revisited after future elections. It is possible that poorer

election results will force the parties to become more flexible and
change their recruitment tactics.
Although Indonesia is still a transitional democracy, its parties have
the same difficulties attracting members as parties in more mature de-
mocracies. While Indonesian parties have a new-found freedom to or-
ganise themselves, they also have to compete to win votes, which trans-
lates into competition to attract party members as well. People, of
course, have the freedom to change the parties they vote for between
elections. Yet the parties’ recruitment strategies that I have described
did not anticipate members switching parties. With the exception of
PKS, the parties were not aggressive in their recruitment, despite elector-
al volatility, which suggests that they should be more vigilant in formu-
lating strategies to draw support. The PAN leader’s comparison of choos-
ing a party with switching channels on television demonstrates concern
over the strength of party attachments. But with indications that public
trust in parties is declining in Indonesia (Tempo 2005), party member-
ship in Indonesia may well decline too. Indonesians are becoming less
attracted to parties, viewing party membership as increasingly unneces-
sary compared with the pre-New Order era, and so many people are
choosing to be unattached party supporters instead. As Linz argues,
new democracies exhibit a trend of having ‘fewer voters with strong
party identification’ (Linz 1997). As a result, Indonesian parties face
serious challenges in creating greater participation.


We saw earlier that Partai Golkar and PKS showed greater organisational
prowess at the local level than PDIP and PAN, and that is true on the spe-
cific matter of recruitment as well. PDIP’s and PAN’s reliance on their
leaders’ charisma as a recruitment strategy limited their ability to attract
supporters other than people attracted to the party leaders. In both
cases, their party programmes were either unpopular or neglected in
their recruitment campaigns. But, ideally, party leadership changes
should occur regularly, which can leave such parties with essentially no
means of attracting support.
Both PDIP and PAN exhibited poor branch organisation and discrepan-
cies between their national recruitment policies and their local practi-
ces. The adherence of their local branches to the recruitment regula-
tions laid down by their central offices was inconsistent. This suggests
that the failure of parties to focus on party programmes rather than in-
dividual leaders is correlated with party organisation. Simply put, better-
organised parties promote platforms to attract support, while poorly

organised parties are unable to shift attention from their leaders to their
Beyond recruitment, party branches are also responsible for creating
a solid party-member relationship that can sustain the party. For mem-
bers, this relationship occurs at the branch level. The next chapter ex-
amines the relationship between parties and their members, and the
role of local party organisations in managing members.
7 Members’ Motivations and Participation
in the Parties

So, what should parties do after attracting and recruiting grass-roots

members? Ideally, they should build on the resulting momentum and
ensure that these members will be attached and active. However, deep
involvement in party life depends on individuals’ aspirations, supported
by party efforts at engaging them in meaningful participation. In
Malang, the lack of effort by the parties to fully engage their members
resulted in a tendency towards creating passive memberships, including
people who joined a party just to obtain a membership card but had lit-
tle knowledge of party organisation. Local party branches faced chal-
lenges creating and strengthening members’ attachments, particularly
given the diverse motivations of their members and unresponsive
membership management policies at the local level.

Motivation and Involvement in Political Parties

Scholars argue that members’ attachments to political parties are crucial

for the success of those parties, mainly because of the influence of at-
tachments on voting behaviour. Dalton & Wattenberg write that ‘long-
term loyalty’ and ‘repeated experience with a preferred party’ determine
a voter’s choice; at the same time, party attachment gives the party a sta-
ble support base (Dalton & Wattenberg 2000: 21). Strong attachment is
also usually manifested in a greater willingness of members to partici-
pate in party activities such as rallies. Affection for a political party usu-
ally translates to fondness for the political system as well (Dalton &
Wattenberg 2000: 21). Thus, strong support for a party tends to mean
strong support for the political system. Parties are greatly dependent on
members’ attachments during elections. Burrell (1986: 49-50) argues
that a party’s vitality can be observed when members are more than just
‘nominally committed’, but truly involved in a party’s efforts to win
elections. Besides being a reliable source of votes, scholars argue, party
members are relied on by parties to participate in party activities.
Turnout for these activities helps create the impression that the parties
are popular. Thus, parties greatly benefit from continuous member

To create strong participation, parties have to tap into members’ moti-

vations to join the party in the first place. Although research on motiva-
tion is complex, it is generally noted that members join parties to gain
‘influence, material favors, information, social benefits, or mental satis-
faction’; they also stand to lose money, time, and alternative opportuni-
ties (Heidar 2006: 304). Scarrow (2005) describes six main motivations
to join a party: to express a political conviction, to learn more about poli-
tics, to participate in politics, to help fulfil personal political ambitions,
to gain social benefits, and to gain economic benefits. As we have seen,
the decision to join a party can also be influenced by the incentives
provided. Janda (1980: 128) provides the simplest categorisation of in-
centives. He argues that there are three basic incentives to registering
as party members: material incentives (monetary rewards), solidary in-
centives (the benefit of associating with friends) and purposive incen-
tives (derived from the ‘stated ends of the organisation’ or patronage
The decision to join a party also generally depends on the social con-
text: whether it fills a need to belong to an entity as a reflection of reli-
gious, class, or ethnic identity. It can be influenced by the will to change
a particular government policy as well (Heidar 2006: 302, 304). Heidar
presents examples of studies from different countries in Europe and
the United States on the motivations behind members’ applications to
join a party. He argues that ideology plays a defining role in members’
decisions to join, as well as in their ongoing commitment to the party.
Heidar points to a study by Paul Sabatier (1992), who developed ‘com-
mitment theory’, which argues that ‘individuals join and become active
in a political organisation because of their strong ideological sympathies
with the organisation’s political goals’. That is particularly true for
newly formed parties (Heidar 2006: 304).1 One study on members of a
Danish party found that 54 per cent of them chose to join because of
the party’s ideology (Pedersen et al. 2004).2 Thus, party ideology is one
of the most important factors in a potential member’s decision to join a
Scholars argue that, ideally, members’ involvement in a party goes
further than simply signing up and obtaining a membership card.
Members’ involvement in the ‘life’ of a party is a sign of that party’s
maturity. One cross-national study measured members’ contributions to
a party organisation in terms of their intensity, ranging from attending
meetings at varying frequencies to taking part in electoral campaigns to
offering financial support.3 Janda (1980: 126-132) deems members’ in-
volvement an essential indicator of a party’s institutionalisation. He de-
fines involvement as ‘the intensity of psychological identification with
the party and as the commitment to furthering its objectives by partici-
pating in party activities’ (Janda 1980: 126). Janda argues that

involvement can also be measured by membership requirements, mem-

bership participation, doctrinism and personalism (Janda 1980: chapter
12). Membership requirements vary from the least to the most costly,
according to Janda: no requirement, registering as party members, pay-
ing dues, and serving a probationary period. The more costly the re-
quirement, the greater the level of member involvement.4
Duverger categorised party members according to their ‘degrees of
participation’. He differentiated them from the least to the most pas-
sionate and involved: ‘supporters’, ‘adherents’, ‘militants’ and ‘propa-
gandists’ (Duverger 1964: 61). Although parties benefit from more
‘propagandist’ members, who actively promote the party and recruit
more members, in reality most members are ‘adherents’ who merely
sign up and vote for the party.5 Janda (1980: 129) adopts Barnes’s classi-
fication of membership participation: nominal members (the least in-
volved), followed by marginal members, then participants, and militants
(the most involved).6 In nominal member parties, most members are
members ‘in name only’, and do not participate beyond registering as
members. Marginal member parties are those where most members ex-
hibit some interest in party activities by occasionally attending meetings
or performing party tasks. In participant member parties, most party
members attend meetings regularly and perform party tasks occasional-
ly. A party can be described as militant if most members attend all party
meetings and provide a ready source of labour for all party activities.
Janda argues that meeting attendance represents a basic level of party
participation, while partaking in other activities shows deeper member
involvement (1980: 129). This argument suggests that, at a minimum,
active members should attend party meetings. However, European case
studies have suggested that party activism is declining. Member partici-
pation in Ireland’s Fine Gael party was considered a crucial form of
support for the party, but despite party loyalty, only a small portion of
members actually spent time participating (Gallagher & Marsh 2004:
409, 413). Thus, support for parties does not necessarily translate into
greater participation in party activities. Parties typically depend more on
members’ votes than on their contributions in the form of activities.
Studies on Danish parties reveal that one-half of members do not par-
ticipate in party-related activities other than paying dues, a smaller por-
tion attend local meetings only occasionally, and about one in seven are
very active during and outside elections (Pedersen et al. 2004: 380).
This suggests that low participation in European democracies is normal
and that parties can still function despite it.
Studies on Western democracies have also revealed that, generally,
members join a party to express their support and then become inactive
afterwards (Heidar 2006: 306). Also, these parties depend on a handful
of committed cadres for their daily operations and the execution of their

activities (Heidar 2006: 306). Hence, party organisation depends less

on the percentage of members who are active and more on how in-
volved the active members are. This trend is a consequence of the en-
largement of parties. According to Weldon (2006) and Mair & van
Biezen (2001), as parties become large and their bureaucracy becomes
more complex, individuals require more commitment to be able to navi-
gate through the organisation. This need for greater commitment then
became a screening mechanism for members; only the more commit-
ted would stay active in the party. As a result, there was a smaller per-
centage of active party members. Parties have to find a way around
these trends to create stable participation patterns among members.
The low rate of member participation suggests that more weight
should be given to other factors in deciding the level of party involve-
ment. Janda uses the term ‘doctrinism’ to describe the amount of influ-
ence a party’s written literature has on members and its usage as refer-
ence (1980: 130). For Janda, a higher level of involvement is indicated by
the existence of unifying party literature, the adherence of members to it,
and the frequency of its use (1980: 130-131). His cross-national research
suggested that most parties actually did not have a ‘discernible written lit-
erature to which party members refer in an effort to justify party activ-
ities’, and that only a handful of parties had any documents to which they
continually and frequently referred. Janda also found that although par-
ties do have constitutions, members usually did not use them as strict
guidance; they used them more casually and in an unbinding way.
Janda also uses ‘personalism’ as an indicator of party involvement.
‘Personalism’ refers to the strong alliance that members have with party
leaders as the basis of their support for the party. Janda argues that
although allegiance to particular leaders is important in many contexts,
in well-organised parties involvement should not depend on allegiance
to particular leaders (Janda 1980: 132). ‘Personalism’ and ‘doctrinism’
suggest that in a well-organised party organisation, members’ attach-
ments to the party should be influenced by other factors than affection
towards a particular leader, and that there should be a defined party lit-
erature that guides party activities and is frequently referred to by mem-
bers. Thus, members should be attached to an organisation, its plat-
forms, and its programs, and not to its people at the top. But, in the
Philippines, personalism is strong. Its society is heavily influenced by
networks of patron-clients of extended blood and marital relatives, land-
lords and tenants, and bosses and subordinates (Gonzales 2001: 257).
Consequently, parties in the Philippines are based on individual leaders;
people gather quickly behind the figures they support, and disperse
equally as quickly when those individuals lose influence (Gonzales
2001: 277). Party loyalty is very low and people easily switch their sup-
port from one party to another.

When applied to South Korea, Janda’s theory on party organisation

suggests that South Korean political parties are still a long way from be-
coming institutionalised. Helgesen points out that South Korean parties
are dependant on their leaders, and that ‘the leader is the party’
(Steinberg & Shin 2006: 518). ‘Personalism’ plays a much larger role in
building the bases of support for these parties than other factors such
as party platforms. Members of South Korean parties are attracted to
their parties out of non-ideological motivations such as ‘money, person-
al power, blood relations, and the like’, and recruits join in order to ob-
tain power and rewards, which brings greater power to the party leaders
to whom they are loyal (Steinberg & Shin 2006: 522). As a result, politi-
cal parties are ‘the weakest link’ in democratic processes in South
Korea, and are established, diminished, or changed according to their
leaders’ will. Thus, although Korean parties are showing more signs of
maturing amid the democratic transition process in South Korea,7
heavy reliance on personalism has hindered their institutionalisation.
A comprehensive and effective recruitment approach promotes stron-
ger attachment to a party as an institution rather than to party personnel.
But while such an approach develops a membership base, the degree of
attachment and participation within parties varies. Members are in-
volved in their parties in different ways and degrees. The variable inten-
sity of participation has attracted much attention from scholars who have
wished to examine the sacrifices members make for their chosen par-
ties. Participation in party activities is generally measured by time spent
to do party tasks and by the specific tasks performed for the party.8 In
cases of low involvement and membership decline, parties need active
members to make a greater commitment (Scarrow 1996: 195).
Both parties’ efforts to increase participation and members’ own de-
sires to take part in party operations contribute to members’ participa-
tion. However, one study on party members in India revealed that
members’ decisions to actively participate in parties sprang more from
internal motivations than the parties’ efforts to engage them (Prasad
1983), although the parties’ efforts to penetrate different social strata
helped link people with the political system (Prasad 1983: 110-112).
Election periods in India attracted the highest intensity and frequency
of active party involvement; the main activities were propagandising,
campaigning and getting out the vote.9 Outside elections, party activists
acted as ‘brokers’ or ‘expeditors’ of involvement and were involved with
parties’ social functions and activities, and arbitrated disputes (Prasad
1983: 110). Participation in Indian parties was high and members stayed
active even in the absence of election-related activities, which helped
sustain India’s democracy, the world’s largest.
Although some Indonesian parties have aggressive recruitment meth-
ods, and individuals are free to choose a party, their choice of party is

often still swayed by community leaders. As in India, in New Order

Indonesia (1966-1998), election periods triggered intense party activ-
ities. But outside those periods, as we have seen, the parties did very lit-
tle. In the changed circumstances of the reform period, parties have
more freedom and thus can take more active roles in community life.
However, their influence on political participation is still limited primar-
ily to involving members and supporters in their socio-cultural activ-
ities. As a consequence of parties’ limited capacity to foster participa-
tion, active political participation through parties heavily depends on in-
dividuals’ desire to take part in party meetings, and in their efforts to
advance their party careers so as to be potential party candidates.
In Indonesia, members join particular parties for party-specific rea-
sons, such as the party’s image, or for more general reasons, such as
wanting to learn more about organisations and politics. Whatever the
basis of their initial attraction to a particular party, it can be utilised by
that party to create a continuing and increasing sense of attachment.
The relationship between parties and members is heavily influenced by
parties’ efforts to cultivate the attachment of their members. Such ef-
forts may take the form of holding awareness-raising programmes, re-
quiring party dues, or organising party events. Parties that fail to under-
take such efforts have low levels of member familiarity with the party.
Generally, such parties have no specific programmes to familiarise
members with their party constitutions and party regulations. As a re-
sult, members have limited knowledge of them, including about their
rights and duties as members. Another consequence of members’ inad-
equate knowledge of their parties is less attachment among ordinary
members, shown by their low levels of participation in party activities
compared with the participation of party cadres. In Indonesia, party
dues are ineffective in creating attachment, as they are not usually obli-
gatory, leaving party activities as the main means of involvement. As
with Western parties, deeper participation in party activities is limited
to party cadres and leaders, who demonstrate greater passion and will-
ingness to make sacrifices for their party. Party members in Indonesia
are generally reluctant to get more involved in party politics, as party
life takes a back seat to their primary occupations, and thus their con-
nections with parties are limited. However, members generally feel that
such limited interaction with their parties is sufficient, in contrast with
the ideals of greater involvement.

Membership Dynamics

The relationships between Partai Golkar, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia

Perjuangan, Partai Amanat Nasional and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera and

their members were manifested during my study in the attachment of

those members to their parties and their involvement in party activities,
mainly in paying dues and participating in party events. But different
forms of interaction created varying degrees of attachment. Also, levels
of participation and attachment differed between members, cadres and
leaders, with individuals in higher positions in the parties being the
more active. More importantly, the parties played a crucial role in culti-
vating members’ willingness to actively contribute and participate. The
degree and intensity of attachment depended on how the parties man-
aged and cultivated it.

Partai Golkar
Partai Golkar members’ patterns of motivation and participation were
still influenced by the structures the party inherited from the New
Order period during my fieldwork, but it had also been successful in
creating and promoting a fresh new image. Alongside the influence of
the old regime, persuasion from family members and personal interest
in learning more about politics and organisations influenced the deci-
sions of new members to join the party. However, generally, members’
involvement in party activities was limited to party cadres and because
of limited opportunities for participation by ordinary members, partici-
pation in party politics (i.e. party careers) was limited to cadres and
leaders. Cadres were more motivated to participate, as party career ad-
vancement was highly affected by involvement in party events.
Members’ motivations for joining Partai Golkar varied considerably,
from persuasion by family members who were already members to a
desire to find activities post-retirement. There was also a member who
said that he joined because ‘Partai Golkar is modern and it has high-
quality personnel’.10 As evidence of the influence of the legacy of the
New Order government, another member claimed that he was in the
party because he was in the bureaucracy during Suharto days. The
range of answers from party members about their motivations for join-
ing confirmed that the party had no specific recruitment scheme to at-
tract new members and that it relied on its new image as well as exist-
ing members inherited from the New Order government. This suggests
that the party’s supporters did not place a high value on ideology.
Although there was no urgency to build a stronger platform, doing so
would benefit the stability of the party’s support in the long run, as a
clearer platform would provide a more reliable means of maintaining
attraction to the party.11
Upon joining Partai Golkar, members received no special awareness-
raising about the party constitution. However, although there were
members who had only vague ideas of how they should interact with

the party, other members demonstrated awareness of the party’s AD/ART

(Anggaran Dasar/Anggaran Rumah Tangga) and could correctly identify
what was expected of them.12 The varied level of knowledge of party du-
ties and rights points to different levels of involvement of members in
the party – the more involved the members were, the better their knowl-
edge of their rights and duties. As there was no sanction for members
who failed to participate in activities,13 individual will was the only de-
terminant in decisions to be active in the party.
The members stated that they attended party rallies, regular meetings
and party pengajian (Islamic study groups), while cadres indicated that
they were assigned different tasks during different party events which
were rotated among cadres.14 Members and cadres thus had certain re-
sponsibilities that they fulfilled by attending party events and helping
organise them. Cadres showed deeper involvement than ordinary mem-
bers. Cadres were usually assigned bigger roles in coordinating the
events, while members were usually only invited to attend. Deeper in-
volvement served as the party’s recognition of the cadres’ position and
importance in the party.
In Partai Golkar’s kodya branch, the chairperson paid special atten-
tion to the cadres, regularly calling them to his office during party
events to have private discussions with them. This special regard of the
party chairperson contributed to their commitment to party activities.
Similarly for Partai Golkar’s kabupaten branch, there was a close rela-
tionship between party leaders and cadres, as they seemed to meet up
regularly outside the party.15 Thus, for the cadres, one of the benefits of
attending party events was special recognition from the party leader.
General members received information on what the party and other
parties were doing, whether such information was formally presented
by party leaders or informally gleaned from casual chats with other par-
ticipants in the events. Their various motivations and benefits kept the
active members and cadres attending party events. However, the portion
of members and cadres who took part in party activities was still a mi-
nority compared with the members who were inactive, despite special
attention for active cadres.16 Although general turnout to party events
was quite good,17 those who turned out were from certain groups of
people; the same cadres and members kept turning up at different party
Yet, in any case, it would have been difficult, or even impossible, to
accommodate all members at party events. Party activities were in-
tended and designed for a limited number of participants, with invita-
tions only distributed to party cadres. The choice of whether to partici-
pate in party activities was, of course, affected by the practice of only in-
cluding some members and cadres, but it also depended on individual
members. In terms of party career aspirations, the choice of being

inactive indicated that the individuals were not interested in pursuing

party careers, since more involvement in party activities would intro-
duce members to party officials and leaders, improve their public image
and enhance their opportunities for party career advancement.18 But the
absence of a special induction mechanism meant that members had lit-
tle knowledge of a party career even if they chose to pursue one. When
asked about how they could advance to higher membership levels,
members indicated that they should be active and dedicated to the
party.19 This reflected the absence of a clear promotion mechanism in
the party. Members’ lack of knowledge was a consequence of the ab-
sence of both a clear party policy and party efforts to familiarise its
members with the policies it did have.
Upon registering, members were issued membership cards, which
contained details such as the member’s name, address and date of
birth. The card served as a special form of identification for the mem-
bers. The same details were recorded in party files maintained by local
branches. Theoretically, the branch then reported developments in the
membership database to its central office.20 Although the party did not
prioritise recruitment, development of the membership base was con-
sidered important and worth reporting to the party’s higher authority.
However, this kind of reporting was not a standard procedure required
in all branches. Although the kodya branch reported its membership
statistics regularly, the kabupaten office, while also maintaining a mem-
bership database, did not report to the central office regularly. Irregular
updating meant that the kabupaten database was not accurate, especially
considering that former members did not report decisions to cease their
memberships.21 Increases in membership were accurately recorded, but
not decreases, and even where reports to the central office were made,
they did not accurately convey membership decline.
Inaccurate recording of membership numbers had no implications
for party finances, however, since the party did not impose dues pay-
ments on its members. Concerns about members’ economic difficulties
had discouraged the party from making dues obligatory.22 The absence
of member dues contributed to the lack of interaction between the party
and ordinary members. Regular dues payments would have created a
form of frequent interaction between members and the party, whereby
members and the party would have had to contact each other to ensure
that the payment was made. As dues were not imposed, there was one
less kind of interaction. Indeed, for many members, interaction with
the party ceased immediately after they signed on. Only members who
were genuinely interested in party life took the time to take part in party
activities. Typically, the same group of people attended different party
events. In both Partai Golkar’s kabupaten and kodya branches, these
were the people who had already become party cadres and were active

in party divisions (women, youth and so on) or in the party’s sub-

organisations. Other members were inactive and thus could not be mo-
bilised or used by the party.
Although Partai Golkar’s AD/ART did not regulate the level of participa-
tion expected of its members, it did specify their rights and duties.
Members who did not participate in party activities could not exercise
their rights and they did not perform their duties (as one of which was
to participate in party activities). Partai Golkar’s constitution specified
that one duty of members was to actively conduct party programmes
(aktif melaksanakan program-program Partai Golkar) and that two of their
rights were to speak and cast votes (bicara dan memberikan suara)
(Partai Golkar 2005). Failure to participate in party activities denied
members the opportunity to exercise their rights and spelled failure to
perform their party duties.
The handful of people who attended party activities naturally had a
far better knowledge of party activities than those who did not; the latter
were aware of a considerably shorter list of party activities.23 Party ca-
dres were also the beneficiaries of a special course on leadership by the
party, which served both to enhance their skills and acknowledge their
involvement in the party. Participation was rewarded by greater ac-
knowledgement and service from the party, which resulted in closer af-
fection of members towards the party.
The contours of member participation were shaped by the party’s
own efforts and the local environment. One important influence on
members’ levels of participation in Partai Golkar was the fact that party
life was a second occupation for most members, even leaders. The ka-
bupaten secretary explained that he had to make many sacrifices for the
party; for example, because he had to pay transportation costs for the ca-
dres who visited his house, he had to sell his wife’s jewelry.24 The per-
sonal sacrifices compounded the difficulties caused by the fact that
party life took place only after members performed their day jobs.25
Passion for the party could only be realised after their working hours.26
Hence, interviews with party members for this study were conducted
during party events, or during their leisure time, which usually meant
late afternoon at their residences. The members only came to the party
offices when they needed to, usually for meetings. Party life was secon-
dary to their main occupations and deeper involvement depended on in-
dividual will and motivation.27
Although the involvement of more members would mean greater de-
mocracy in the party, members were satisfied with the current arrange-
ment which left the choice of deeper involvement to the individual.
Members generally felt that their level of participation in the party was
best for their lifestyles and sufficient political involvement. Thus, the
ideals of greater involvement did not apply to Partai Golkar. The

feelings of satisfaction of the members suggest that their needs to be

involved were met and that deeper involvement was not desired, partic-
ularly given the difficulties of integrating more people.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan

Members’ attachments to PDIP were based heavily on the party’s ideol-
ogy and the appeal of Bung Karno (Sukarno), as well as on persuasion
by other members. Upon joining the party, the members had different
approaches to their duties, and some became more involved in party ac-
tivities than others. At the same time, party branches created opportuni-
ties and ways for the individuals to be more involved. However, activ-
ities in PDIP were limited to bhakti sosial and regular meetings, which
hindered stronger and more frequent involvement from members.
Consequently, members had little knowledge of the party beyond that
expressed through their uniform commitment to supporting Sukarno
and the party’s image.
When asked why they joined PDIP, some members mentioned that
they had been asked by friends who were already members.28 This sug-
gested that some members put effort into attracting other members as
required by the party’s AD/ART. However, this was entirely left to individ-
uals’ discretion. As a result, attempts to bring in other members were
sporadic and conducted without specific instructions from the party or
sanctions for failing to do so.
More commonly, members’ decisions to join were a result of their
admiration for Bung Karno. This admiration was directed also at his
daughter Megawati, especially after the party’s internal leadership con-
flict in 1996-1997, and many members said that they became more at-
tached to the party during the proMeg days.29 PDIP members were still
heavily influenced by personalism, which contradicts Janda’s prescrip-
tion for strong party organisation (1980). The party had failed to devel-
op a platform that could sustain public support beyond that for its lead-
ers. Furthermore, it showed no effort to channel the support for its
leaders to support for its programmes and platforms; it settled on enjoy-
ing the immense popularity of these charismatic figures.30
PDIP’s image as the party of the ‘little people’ (wong cilik), which is
perceived as part and parcel of the party’s ideology, also influenced
members’ decisions to join. They believed that joining would enable
them to ‘fight for the interests of common people’.31 The wong cilik
ideology was originally derived from Sukarno’s concept of Marhaenism,
based on his perceptions of the socio-economic problems of the 1930s.
Marhaen was the name of a poor farmer, ‘impoverished by owning his
means of production’, who represented an overwhelming majority of
Indonesians of the time.32 Sukarno’s understanding of Marhaenism

was deeply reflected in his view that an ideal political party was one that
accommodated the interests of the largest section of the community.
PDIP inherited the ideological roots of the radical nationalist PNI that
Sukarno had earlier established and led. The role of ideology in the
party resembled its role in more mature democracies, where people
identify with what a party fights for (Heidar 2006). However, the party
had yet to develop this ideology further to strengthen its support base.
Members and cadres generally expressed strong passion for the party
and had been members since it was known as PDI, which suggested that
they were loyal. When asked whether anything could sway them to sup-
port other parties, most members and cadres responded that nothing
could make them shift their allegiance. However, supporters’ loyalty
had not been fully utilised by the party to strengthen party attachment.
For example, the registration process for members varied, with some
members claiming they had to submit a copy of identification and
others claiming that there was no special requirement, that they ‘simply
joined’ (masuk begitu saja). These varying practices showed that the
branches had failed to adhere to the regulations stated in the party’s AD/
ART on member registration requirements, and that there was no for-
mally regulated registration process. Furthermore, there was no specific
mechanism to familiarise new members with the party such as an in-
duction: as a consequence, members held only vague ideas of their
rights and duties in the party.34 Induction programmes for members
and cadres were determined by local branches at the kecamatan level
(ranting). Members and cadres from different ranting offered varying ac-
counts of what the party did in an effort to familiarise them with the
party. Although there was one local leader who mentioned cadre orien-
tation, the rest of the cadres claimed that they had received none.35
Thus, not only did the branches fail to apply national regulations that
required that members be given a one-month training programme and
cadres a cadre course (kursus kader),36 there were variations in how dif-
ferent branches conducted recruitment and how they treated members
and cadres.
The inconsistent registration process and the absence of a uniform
party awareness-raising programme meant that the party missed oppor-
tunities to reinforce members’ feelings of attachment. What’s more,
there was a lack of knowledge of procedural mechanisms required to
advance party careers. The members gave vague answers when quizzed
about what they thought they should do to achieve a higher position in
the party and whether they knew promotion procedures.37 Cadres dem-
onstrated similar inability to explain party procedures. When asked
what they could do to become party leaders and how the party regulated
promotion, they focused on more general matters, such as the impor-
tance of becoming a dedicated member to gain the trust of other

members. They failed to mention specific measures that were allowed

or regulated by the party to obtain promotions.38
As members had limited initial interaction with the party upon regis-
tering, one important symbol of association with the party was the
membership card, which also served as a form of party identity. The
party branches kept records of their members and updated them regu-
larly.39 However, since there were inconsistencies in members’ registra-
tion processes, where some members simply identified themselves as
members without undergoing formal registration, the membership card
was not entirely effective as a marker of party identity. As the registra-
tion process was not fully adhered to, member status was unclear as
well. Members who ‘simply joined’ without ever formally registering
and thus did not carry membership cards were not recorded in mem-
bership records.
The party’s lack of effort to enhance member attachment was also in-
dicated by the absence of member dues. Members who joined the party
after 1999 were not aware of any dues structure and members who had
joined earlier claimed that it did exist at one time but was later scrapped
by the party.40 The party’s AD/ART, however, still listed paying dues as
one duty of members at the time of my fieldwork (PDI Perjuangan
2005: 58). Dues were another example of inconsistencies between cen-
tral party regulations and practice at the local level. These inconsisten-
cies suggest that it was difficult for the branches to adhere to the na-
tional constitution and that there was little control from the central of-
fice to ensure the application of national policies.
Despite the absence of attachment mechanisms such as party aware-
ness-raising programmes and member dues, the party made effective
use of the events that dominated party activities – party meetings. The
party’s emphasis on meetings as a form of party activity meant that the
processes through which members voiced their opinions had an impor-
tant place in the party. The significance of freedom of expression in
PDIP as a means of accommodating ‘the wishes of the people’ was noted
by party leaders.41 The advantage of making meetings the dominant ac-
tivity in the party was that members and cadres gained a better under-
standing of democratic measures in the decision-making process and
directly experienced them. My interviews revealed that members were
satisfied with the practice of voting and felt that their views were being
heard by the party. Leaders were elected at the local level through vot-
ing, with the leaders claiming that voting was the method freely chosen
by members when they were elected.
Member participation differed between the PDIP’s kodya and kabupa-
ten offices in Malang. The stark disparity between the variety and fre-
quency of activities of the two branches meant that the level of attach-
ment of members to the parties in the different branches differed as

well. As party activities were the most obvious way in which members
could participate in PDIP, limitations on the number of activities meant
limitations on the chances for members to get involved. Malang’s kabu-
paten members had a wider variety of events, while kodya members on-
ly experienced regular meetings and bhakti sosial. The turnout for party
activities – quite apart from their frequency – also sheds light on how
active members generally were. Turnout during party activities was gen-
erally good, with the kodya’s buka bersama held during the fasting
month attended by around 200 people; members, cadres and general
public were all invited to the event. Even with the limited variety of
party activities, committed members and cadres demonstrated loyalty
by dedicating their time to the party and voicing their opinions.
Kabupaten events also were attended by party cadres and members, but
the community service activities were not as successful at drawing the
general public.42
The choice to be active in the party, even for leaders, was highly sub-
jective. PDIP’s kodya leader, who was also Malang’s mayor, was the chair-
person of an inactive office, suggesting that he prioritised his mayoral
duties more than his party commitments. In contrast, PDIP kabupaten’s
chairperson was frequently in the PDIP office even though he also held
an office at the kabupaten assembly.43 Thus, even in neighbouring
branches, PDIP leaders had different approaches to conducting and man-
aging their party leaderships. This reflected the fact that individual lead-
ers in PDIP had the authority to manage their respective offices. The
cases of kodya and kabupaten Malang suggest that party branch leaders
have the biggest influence in determining whether the branch is active
or not.
As with Partai Golkar, individual motivation was the only real driving
force behind members’ levels of activeness in PDIP. There was no sanc-
tion or special mechanism to ensure that members participated actively
in party events.44 As a consequence, some ordinary members claimed
that they did not attend party activities at all. Other ordinary members
uniformly described their roles in party activities as contributors of sug-
gestions and as listeners to discussions to understand the party’s pro-
grammes. When asked about the benefits gained from being active in
the party, the interviewees gave answers that varied from having oppor-
tunities to make new friends to learning about politics, to understand-
ing the policies made by local assemblies. These answers suggest that
PDIP functioned not only as a political learning centre, but as a social
community. They also confirmed the commitment of members and ca-
dres to the party, as association and attachment to the party were per-
ceived as positive for their personal development.
In sum, PDIP enjoyed strong loyalty from its members. The party’s
image and its leaders’ charisma drew supporters to the party and

created strong affection for it. Although the party’s effort to strengthen
the bonds of its members was minimal, members remained faithful
and active. The disadvantage of having a limited variety of party events
was at least partly offset by the fact that PDIP’s meetings created a forum
in which members could voice their opinions, which contributed to the
intra-party democracy practised in internal elections. In short, although
the party was reluctant to create more stable member attachment that
was not based on charisma, PDIP actively promoted democratic measures
in its daily operation.

Partai Amanat Nasional

Similarly, PAN members were drawn to the party by its image and the
high profile of its leader, Amien Rais. However, as indicated earlier, the
party’s kodya and kabupaten branches in Malang faced challenges
caused by inefficiencies in office management which disrupted party ac-
tivities in both branches, effectively excluding regular members from
participation in party activities. In a nutshell, PAN’s organisational prob-
lems caused members’ attachment and involvement to deteriorate to
the level where only highly motivated cadres were involved.
When asked what made them choose to join the party, PAN members
offered answers that ranged from disappointment in other parties to
personal association with the Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah.45
However, the most popular response concerned their admiration for
Amien Rais. Evidence of the party’s success in raising awareness of it-
self was limited to their strong public association of Amien Rais with
the party: no member indicated that they joined the party because of its
platform or programmes. Rais was a stronger attraction than the party
platform itself and PAN’s recruitment strategy seemed to have been suc-
cessful only in promoting Rais’s popularity, not in improving the pub-
lic’s knowledge of the focus and workings of the party.
In both the kabupaten and kodya branches, the mechanism of regis-
tering with the party was unclear; party members stated that they sim-
ply joined without having to provide formal documentation. This prac-
tice not only violated party regulations,46 it showed a lack of member
registration procedures at the local level. Although the branches up-
dated their membership databases occasionally, the lack of organisation
seriously jeopardised their record-keeping, particularly for the kodya of-
fice.47 Furthermore, the absence of registration mechanisms showed
that PAN’s local branches were poorly organised.
As an extension of the absence of a standardised procedure to regis-
ter members, PAN’s local branches did not have a standardised practice
in issuing membership cards, despite the party’s national policy of
doing so. The kodya office’s organisational chaos meant that registration

was equally chaotic, as potential members could not even locate a physi-
cal office where they could sign up. Meanwhile, although the kabupaten
chairperson said that membership cards were supplied, members at the
ranting level claimed otherwise. Party identity served as the main basis
of association with the party (while members from the other three par-
ties showed pride in their membership cards).48 The inconsistent issu-
ance of membership cards meant that many PAN members did not have
a physical manifestation of party identity.49 That some members re-
ceived cards while others did not was further evidence of the lack of co-
herence in administrative procedures.
The lack of party attachment fostered by the lack of membership
cards was worsened by the absence of membership dues as well. The
kabupaten chairperson echoed leaders from other parties on the matter
of dues, explaining that dues would be a burden for members.
Members at the grass-roots level said that they were never asked to pay
dues.50 In the kodya office, although the cadres insisted that payment of
dues was encouraged, it was impossible for them to ensure that the pay-
ments were actually made, as they were struggling to find a new office.
The failure to collect dues was another area where the local branches
demonstrated inconsistencies with national regulations.51
With dues not imposed by the party and the issuance of membership
cards incoherent, the party relied on members’ involvement during
party events as a main mechanism of interaction between the party and
its members. One activity that was crucial for PAN’s member manage-
ment was its cadre orientation programme. PAN showed much better or-
ganisation in providing an induction programme to its new members
than it did in its registration procedures. Members confirmed to me
that they had attended awareness-raising programmes run by the party,
while cadres and local leaders asserted that they had pembekalan kader
(cadre skills training).52 This is consistent with the claims of the kabu-
paten chairperson who explained that all members were given a special
orientation to improve their organisational skills and knowledge of the
party.53 The training created stronger attachment of members to the
party, and was especially important given that registration and dues pro-
cedures were lacking. It also reflected coherence between the national
recruitment focus and the commitment from the local branches to
manage the awareness-raising process.
As explained in previous chapters, the ability to hold party activities
was highly dependent on the efficiency of branch management. In
PAN’s case, the period when both the kodya and kabupaten branches
were looking for new offices restricted further the already limited inter-
action between the party and its members. During this period, mem-
bers, in fact, had no interaction with the party at all. Even the cadres
who were deeply involved in party affairs claimed that party meetings

were called only when necessary; there were no regular meetings. As a

result, the party relied on the efforts of a handful of party activists who
remained passionate about the party and were willing to sacrifice a
great deal – to the extent, in the case of the kabupaten office chairper-
son, of letting his house be used as the party’s office. As in other par-
ties, those PAN activists who devoted extra energy to the party had regu-
lar jobs to attend to.54 Nonetheless, their enthusiasm for the party was
reflected in their efforts. For example, as the new kodya office was an
abandoned old house, the cadres cleaned the building, painted it and or-
dered the furniture.
But the degree of attachment of PAN’s ordinary members to the party
was severely limited, as crucial factors for engaging with its members
were missing from the party’s strategy. There was no coherence to the
member registration requirements and process; no party dues were ex-
pected from members; and party activities were irregular and depend-
ant upon branch efficiencies – or, rather, inefficiencies. PAN’s limited in-
teraction with its members risked the loss of those members to other
parties, since it was difficult to cultivate and maintain their loyalty with
limited and irregular activities.

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

Members’ motivations for joining PKS were dominated by a desire to
look for a worthy alternative party to other parties. PKS’s popularity was
boosted by its religious activities and grass-roots approach, which also
played important roles in recruitment. All PKS members were referred
to as cadres and members very actively participated in party events. The
cadres had vast knowledge of the party, including its multiple member-
ship levels and how cadres could achieve leadership positions in it. The
involvement of cadres in the party was facilitated by the range and vari-
ety of events it held. Party branches also demonstrated solid organisa-
tion in managing registration and their regular activities.
PKS cadres said that they were attracted to the party because it had a
positive image as an Islamic party and because they had been unhappy
with the parties with which they were previously associated.55 The party
boasted a clean image, and the activities of its cadres in grass-roots
communities and its dakwah movement to spread Islamic teachings cre-
ated a good impression on would-be members. Cadres also stated that
they were attracted by the party’s programmes and the successes of its
grass-roots activities on campuses56 and its campaigning through post-
ers, banners and leaflets; these activities drew potential members’ atten-
tion. Members were also drawn to its routine pengajian (Islamic study
groups), which complemented its printed materials.

The member registration process in PKS was well-organised by the lo-

cal branches. The cadres explained that there was a standard form that
they had to fill out to register, which was then processed by the local
branches. The local branches then followed up and explained the mem-
bership requirements to the potential cadres. Membership was treated
as a binding agreement between the individuals and the party. Each
member had to be initiated in an official ceremony, after he or she
passed the selection process in the party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera
2006). During the ceremony, the member had to read and sign the
‘promise of loyalty’, which was witnessed by the leader of the structural
level (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006). Members were then given a copy
of the agreement, which they kept.
The process of membership registration in the party was very formal
and procedural, which contributed to the sense of responsibility of
members after being officiated as members. This mechanism added to
the already strict membership requirements in the party, and created
greater commitment to the party (Janda 1980: 127). Cadres had the task
of explaining the rights and duties of cadres to the newly registered
members, which required them to be well-versed with party regulations.
PKS exhibited solid organisation, as there was a standard national proce-
dure of membership application which was strictly followed.
The new cadres were told about the consequences and requirements
of membership and were given to understand that their presence at the
pengajian was one requirement of advancing to a higher level of mem-
bership. These pengajian raised the cadres’ party awareness as well as
their understanding of Islam. The cadres learned more about the party
during the events, with the sermons both preaching Islamic values and
promoting the party and its work. As a result, cadres gained solid
knowledge about the party, including their prospects for a party career.
In my interviews with them, the cadres accurately pointed out the
membership levels that they had to go through and that the majelis
syuro,57 as the highest authority in the party, decided on party leadership
at the national level. The cadres also demonstrated an understanding of
the role of voting as the main decision-making procedure in the party,
including for the election of leaders other than the party’s national lead-
er. They knew that the party’s constitution stipulated that national lead-
ership change was one of the majelis syuro’s tasks.
The party issued a membership card to all registered members, a
procedure organised at the kecamatan level. The card was issued once
the cadre was registered. PKS grouped cadres into three categories: ang-
gota kader pendukung (supporting cadres – those who actively supported
every party activity), anggota kader inti (nucleus cadres – those who had
undergone various party-related skills training and who the selection
committee deemed to have passed the trainings) and anggota

kehormatan (honorary members – those who had given special service

to the party’s struggle and had been sworn in by the Central Leadership
Council) (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
The strict registration mechanisms and extensive awareness-raising
process adopted by PKS had created a high level of attachment amongst
cadres towards the party. This attachment was further enhanced by the
party’s efforts to regulate its finances, particularly the contributions
from cadres.58 Although dues were identified in the party’s AD/ART as
one of the party’s main sources of financing, in practice, as with the
other parties, dues were not obligatory. However, PKS cadres were
strongly encouraged to contribute financially to the party on the
grounds that it was their religious obligation to do so.59 Cadres revealed
that instead of making the dues obligatory, PKS organised a regular soda-
qoh60 contribution for them during the pengajian which was used for
party operations. The amount of the sodaqoh was not fixed, and there-
fore was less of a burden than fixed dues.
Although cadres were not obligated to pay party dues, their involve-
ment in party activities was compulsory if they wished to continue or ad-
vance their level of membership among the categories referred to above.
The minimum requirement for continuance of membership was attend-
ance at party events.61 Involvement in party events was crucial for career
advancement in PKS. Although there was no practical sanction for being
inactive, party activities became a selection mechanism for cadres.
Commitment to the party was the main requirement for career enhance-
ment, aside from various trainings. By making involvement compulsory,
PKS secured the commitment of cadres and guaranteed turnout at its
events. Unlike those of the other three parties, PKS’s activities were
mainly conducted at the kecamatan level, making it easier for the party to
accommodate all members since the kecamatan branches had closer rela-
tionships with their members and needed fewer resources to gather local
members than did the kodya and kabupaten offices. In addition to dem-
onstrating PKS’s solid grass-roots organisation, this capacity to include all
of its members in its activities ensured ongoing interaction between the
party and its members, which enhanced internal democracy.
PKS’s pengajian played a crucial role in forming and cultivating cadres’
involvement, since their participation in party events routinely started
with their attendance at pengajian.62 PKS’s regular pengajian were espe-
cially efficient at drawing the attention of potential members. At the ke-
camatan level, these pengajian were held routinely,63 demonstrating the
dedication and commitment of the party branches in organising activ-
ities. The pengajian also served as a method of training for the regis-
tered cadres. Although not mentioned by party leaders as a recruitment
method, interviews with cadres at the local level revealed that pengajian,
to which they were invited by existing cadres, had provided their first

contact with the party. These pengajian were successful in creating a

positive image for the party as an Islamic party, which triggered wider
interest among would-be members. As a method of training, the penga-
jian were aimed at the spiritual needs of the cadres and were held for
all levels of membership.
The cadres demonstrated that they were well aware of their roles in
the party, as indicated by their specific answers when asked about their
functions. The cadres stated that they needed to be positive role models
so that PKS continued to be perceived positively, was successful in the
dakwah movement and was able to recruit high-calibre cadres. The uni-
formity of their answers demonstrated PKS’s success in familiarising the
cadres with the party’s vision and mission and in particular with its fo-
cus on recruitment. As a result of the high level of interaction between
the party and its cadres, the cadres had a solid knowledge of the party’s
activities. The activities that cadres mentioned in their interviews with
me ranged from practical training workshops for the villagers64 to so-
cial activities such as the provision of free medication and second-hand
clothes collection for the poor. The party also held religious activities
aside from pengajian, such as zakat65 collections, discussions with reli-
gious leaders and study of Al-Qur’an. Cadres emphasised the spiritual
benefits of their membership, such as the feeling of being closer to
God, and being empowered to support the dakwah movement in ac-
cordance with Al-Qur’an.
One extension of the successful communication between the party
and its cadres was the gathering of feedback from the grass-roots level.
This was implemented through a routine dialogue between members of
the local assembly and PKS cadres. Interviews with cadres disclosed that
these ‘special reviews’ were conducted every three months in some ke-
camatan. These dialogues, which resembled Partai Golkar’s Jaring
Asmara programme, created a sense of being listened to and cared for
amongst cadres, who felt that the party accepted and accommodated
their interests through these interactions. There were also other bene-
fits that the cadres claimed they received from being party activists; for
example, the workshops provided by the party, which cadres felt were
useful for improving their personal knowledge. Some cadres felt that
they benefited by knowing more about recent developments in the
country, as they could engage in discussions on such topics with other
cadres and leaders.
Dedication to the party was further strengthened by the specific cadre
trainings, resulting in well-equipped local leaders with a deep under-
standing of party strategies. When interviewed, they gave specific an-
swers on what the party did to recruit, uniformly identifying particular
strategies involving personal approaches, as well as public events. The
kecamatan leaders also demonstrated creativity in designing local

recruitment efforts, with one leader claiming that he had recruited a

number of Islamic youth groups in his area.66 The local leaders had au-
thority to decide and create specific events that they thought would be
appropriate for pursuing the party’s interests. There was considerable
coherence between national and regional policy on the priority of re-
cruitment and local offices strictly obeyed the central office’s instruc-
tions. Leaders’ commitment to the party was shown by their availability
in the local party offices, despite their daytime jobs.
PKS successfully created strong member attachment by requiring that
members be active in the party in order to continue and advance their
membership. This requirement appealed to the all-Muslim cadres, par-
ticularly because the main component of the party’s holistic approach
involved religious activities. PKS’s strategy resulted not only in dedicated
cadres, but also sound knowledge of the party. The attachment and
commitment of cadres and leaders were demonstrated by their swift re-
sponses to party matters that needed attention, indicating a mature
party organisation. The range of activities in which PKS cadres were in-
volved showed the party’s success in improving not only the spiritual
well-being but also the practical skills of its cadres. They were keen to
be involved in as many events as possible and had a good grasp of party
operations. As a consequence of the active party-member relationship,
cadres’ high degree of commitment to the party could be maintained.

The Contours of Members’ Participation

The votes that each of the four parties received in the 1999 and 2004
elections proved that they all had significant bases of support. But as the
case studies above show, the parties managed this support very differ-
ently. The main difference was that the younger parties, PKS and PAN,
tended to place greater emphasis on cultivating deeper knowledge of the
parties’ affairs among their members than did the older parties, Partai
Golkar and PDIP.67 The parties also had different views on the importance
of members’ active involvement. Although some theories suggest that
parties depend on members’ attachment at the very least as a sure basis
of votes (Dalton 2000; Burrell 1986), the four parties here had different
focuses at the local level when it came to managing such attachment and
their interaction with members. The attraction of would-be members to
particular parties was initially a product of sympathetic views or the wish
to gain certain benefits through them. Interaction between parties and
members then started with the registration process and continued with
parties’ management of membership cards, party dues, awareness-rais-
ing programmes and participation in party events. Better-organised
branches created more-involved members.

The different ways that the parties managed the support of their
members reflected their priorities, as well as the level of organisation of
their local branches. While the incumbent parties, Partai Golkar and
PDIP, enjoyed stable support bases, their different local organisational
structures created different patterns of member involvement. Partai
Golkar demonstrated greater commitment to creating avenues for party
members to stay involved in the party, whereas PDIP’s inactiveness gen-
erally inhibited members’ involvement. The young parties, PKS and PAN,
were still developing their support bases, but had different approaches.
While PKS showed a high level of dedication to fostering member attach-
ment, PAN struggled to implement its basic recruitment policies. Thus,
although the incumbents had the advantage of larger existing support,
PKS cultivated its support base more.
Members expressed varying motives for joining the parties. Members
of PDIP pointed to party ideology as their main driving force, which con-
forms to Heidar’s argument about the strength of ideology in attracting
party support (2006). Image was also crucial for the parties when it
came to attracting members. In my interviews with them, members
and cadres from all of the parties mentioned party image as something
that drew them to their party and led them to register. Partai Golkar,
whose image was closely associated with Suharto, nonetheless enjoyed
a new image of a modern party, while PDIP and PAN benefited from their
association with reform in Indonesia. For PKS, its Islamic and clean im-
age was most instrumental in drawing members.
The charisma of their leaders was critical to PDIP’s and PAN’s images.
The charisma of Bung Karno and personal admiration for him drove re-
cruitment at the grass-roots level for PDIP, suggesting that personalism
was a very strong component of support for the party. PDIP’s ideology as
partai wong cilik (party of the common people) also attracted a lot of
sympathy. Similarly, Amien Rais drew support for PAN. In contrast, PKS
benefited from its commitment to organising regular events, which at-
tracted and maintained support for the party. For Partai Golkar, its sub-
organisations were crucial in maintaining party influence at the local
level and the consistency of the party’s level of public support.
Personalism in PDIP and PAN posed challenges for both parties.
Panebianco (1989) contends that reliance on leaders’ images for sup-
port suggests that parties are not yet institutionalised and that a mature
party should attract members not by its leaders but by its platforms.
Janda’s concept of personalism refers more to loyalty to leaders. He be-
lieves that ideally most members should not be motivated by personal-
ism (1980: 131-132).68 In the four Indonesian parties, personalism at
the local level played an important role in branch operations, as the rela-
tionship between leaders and cadres affected the efficiency of the
branches. Partai Golkar cultivated a culture of loyalty to its leaders by

paying a lot of attention to members and cadres. But the lack of effort
by PDIP’s kodya branch and both of PAN’s branches at developing better
connections between their leaders and members resulted in distant re-
lationships between them, which contributed to their organisational
problems. On the other hand, the close relationship between cadres and
leaders in PKS was evidenced by their personal interaction in the party’s
local offices, where the leaders treated the cadres like family members.
Thus, the better-organised party, PKS, demonstrated strong personalism
at the local level, contradicting Janda’s argument (1980). For
Indonesian party branches, loyalty and closeness to leaders improved
their efficiency, as the connections ensured close working relationships.
Members of the four parties can be classified according to Janda’s
(1980) categories of nominal, marginal, participant and militant mem-
bers. The most active and participative members belonged to PKS, as the
party made participation compulsory for members. Members enjoyed
and benefited from taking part in party events, making PKS members
militants according to Janda’s scale. Partai Golkar’s members best fit
the participants category, although active members were a small portion
of the whole membership. PDIP’s and PAN’s members can be categorised
as nominal members, merely registering with the party and engaging in
limited, if any, interaction afterwards. Since party institutionalisation re-
quires active membership involvement, PKS was the most successful of
the four parties in cultivating members’ attachments.
Janda (1980) pointed out that the main incentive for party members’
participation is material, which can be distinguished into solidary incen-
tives (the benefits of associating with friends) and purposive incentives
(derived from the stated ends of the organisation or patronage).
Members of the four parties here mainly received solidary benefits, with
satisfaction and a sense of being accommodated the main responses I
received when I asked them what benefits they felt they received as
members. This suggests that these members generally viewed parties
as means to socialise and interact, and were not motivated by patronage
benefits. This is in line with the sense of satisfaction members had with
their limited participation: most members merely wanted to associate
with people with similar political opinions.
The four parties demonstrated significant variety in their member-
ship policies and requirements, and in the implementation of central
party regulations. While Partai Golkar’s and PKS’s branches imple-
mented their party membership policies consistently, PDIP and PAN ex-
hibited varying practices among the different kecamatan.69 PDIP’s and
PAN’s local offices also exhibited incoherence between the standard prac-
tices regulated in their AD/ARTs and the application of membership poli-
cies at the local level. In the case of PAN, there were also members who
stated that they had not gone through a formal registration process,

making it difficult to differentiate between party supporters and regis-

tered members.
Although PAN issued membership cards only inconsistently, the four
parties generally did issue membership cards to registered members.
Partai Golkar, PDIP, and PKS all issued these cards in a disciplined way.
However, though the leaders from higher levels of PAN claimed that
such cards were issued, the kecamatan offices seemed to have difficul-
ties applying that policy, as evidenced by the number of members who
did not have a membership card. The application of membership poli-
cies by PAN’s regional and local offices was incongruent.
As for their awareness-raising programmes, the four parties all ap-
plied different policies. Only PKS had a rigorous awareness-raising sys-
tem in which all new cadres had to participate. Although PDIP’s AD/ART
stipulated that new members participate in a one-month party training
programme, in practice the party failed to apply this requirement.
Similarly, while Partai Golkar’s AD/ART stated that new members had to
accept the party’s doctrine and programmes, the party did not organise
a special induction programme for its new members. In the case of
PAN, there was supposed to be a standard new-member-awareness-rais-
ing programme, but both Malang branches failed to conduct it. Thus,
only PKS showed coherence between party regulations and local practices
in providing inductions for new members.
Janda argues that parties should have a ‘discernible’ literature that is
frequently consulted by party members and thus practise doctrinism
(1980: 131). In my interviews with party members, responses to my
questions bearing on knowledge of individual rights and duties as party
members and party leadership, which indicated consultations with offi-
cial party documents, including constitutions, were used as measures of
doctrinism. PKS members demonstrated better knowledge of party docu-
ments than did members of the other three parties. The responses from
PKS members uniformly and specifically referred to particular sections
of the party’s AD/ART, indicating their familiarity with these documents.
In the cases of the other three parties, the answers did not reflect
knowledge of the contents of party documents. PKS thus demonstrated a
higher level of doctrinism than the other parties, indicating greater in-
stitutional maturity.
One similarity between all four parties was that dues were not obliga-
tory. As a result of economic difficulties of members after Indonesia’s
economy collapsed, the four parties decided to ignore provisions in their
AD/ARTs referring to obligatory dues. PKS strongly encouraged members
to make ‘voluntary’ contributions, but the other parties had no alternate
mechanism for attracting contributions from ordinary members. For
these parties, enforcing payment of member dues would not be effective
in any case given their limited party-member interaction.

The lack of party dues meant that finances available for activities de-
signed to strengthen a sense of belonging to the parties were also very
limited, forcing the parties to rely heavily on other ways to maintain the
loyalty of their members. This meant that party activities had even more
significance in maintaining and strengthening the relationship between
parties and their members, since activities were the only way members
could take part in and contribute to the party. Party events determine
whether parties’ relationships with their members are maintained regu-
larly; the more established and regular the activities, the more stable the
relationship. In the cases of Partai Golkar and PKS, activities were held
regularly, which ensured a level of predictability for members. But PKS
was more successful than Partai Golkar in engaging members, by the
regular pengajian that were held in the different kecamatan. As most ac-
tivities were concentrated at the kodya and kabupaten levels, however, ke-
camatan members had fewer activities in which to participate.
Consequently, the members at the kecamatan level exhibited a weaker
level of involvement. A similar trend was evident in PDIP, where kabu-
paten members and cadres were more involved in the party than their
kodya counterparts. PAN, on the other hand, held only a few meetings at
irregular intervals. Overall, PKS cadres (who, again, were actually regular
members as well as cadres) were more involved in party events than
members of the other parties. In light of Janda’s (1980) argument that
attending party meetings is a minimal form of participation, the level of
participation of most members in the four parties was low.
The dynamics of membership and the parties’ efforts to manage their
memberships influenced the quality of party cadres in Malang. The
deeper the members’ involvement, the better their knowledge of their
party. PKS cadres demonstrated greater knowledge about their party’s
regulations, their duties, and what they could do to advance their party
careers than did members and cadres of the other parties. The latter
group gave more vague and general answers when asked the same
questions, indicating more limited knowledge of their party organisa-
tions and the specific tasks they were supposed to undertake. Since PKS
was the only party to conduct a systematic awareness-raising pro-
gramme, it can be deduced that this programme contributed to this
As a result of its thorough engagement with its members, PKS also
fostered better organisational skills amongst its grass-roots kecamatan
leaders than did the other parties. The various training programmes
provided for cadres resulted in leaders who were not only committed to
the party, but who were able to manage their offices well – as proven by
the success of the party’s kecamatan branches in organising regular lo-
cal pengajian. PKS grass-roots leaders also showed creativity in their re-
cruitment efforts by targeting local Muslim youth groups. For the other

three parties, activities were mainly centered at the kodya and kabupaten
levels. The more effort a party makes to equip its cadres with skills and
knowledge, the more benefits that party receives from having active
grass-roots branches.


The work of the local branches of Partai Golkar, PDIP, PAN and PKS was
crucial in moulding support for these parties. However, the four parties
adopted different policies for interacting with their members and their
branches engaged in varying practices at the local level. This suggests
that the parties not only viewed the roles of their members differently,
but managed their memberships differently as well. PKS was the most
promising party in terms of its level of maturity as indicated by the ele-
ments identified by Janda, because PKS was the most successful in creat-
ing a culture of solid attachment of members. It was also the most suc-
cessful in creating benefits for members that kept them involved in the
party. As a consequence, PKS cadres were – again to use Janda’s argu-
ment – more militant than members of the other parties. The other par-
ties showed trends similar to parties in the more mature Western de-
mocracies, where greater attachment and participation is limited to
party cadres, while ordinary members are satisfied just having a mem-
bership card. These parties rely heavily on a handful of cadres who are
willing to devote their time and resources to their party work. Given
this limited participation from cadres and the efforts of these parties to
become more involved in national and local politics, they have to man-
age their leaders and cadres well. Parties do this by formulating mecha-
nisms to select and choose the individuals who are seen as capable and
fit to represent them. The dynamics of such mechanisms are detailed
in the next chapter.
8 Party Career and Intra-party Democracy

Party branches’ organisational prowess can be seen in whether they

practise what they preach. If they respect democracy, they should imple-
ment it within their organisations and how they manage party careers
and internal leadership provides indications of how successful their or-
ganisations are.

Party Career Advancement as Proof of Intra-party Democracy

In the theoretical literature on democracy, intra-party democracy is

deemed crucial for ‘effective participation’ and ‘voting equalities’, two
elements of Dahl’s definition of democracy (1998: 37-38). Theorists
argue that voting makes for equal rights among party members and
guarantees that their voices matter, and that parties’ efforts to imple-
ment democratic principles in their own organisations are key to projec-
ting honesty and transparency. The granting of greater power to mem-
bers is one means of convincing supporters of a party’s genuineness
and its desire for members to be heard and counted in the party.
As explained earlier, parties employ various strategies to recruit ag-
gressively, one of which is to give more power to members in internal
decision-making. The implementation of intra-party democracy has
been heavily influenced by parties’ efforts to adopt changes that could
attract more supporters – for instance, by promising more power to po-
tential members, particularly after election losses (Pennings & Hazan
2001: 269). By allowing greater member participation, parties hope to
increase members’ ‘sense of involvement’, and open up their party to
other groups and ideas (Pennings & Hazan 2001: 268). Parties also
project democracy in their membership and leadership management.
For example, they might try to create equal opportunities for all eligible
candidates in leadership elections. Duverger has pointed out that parties
have not necessarily practised democratic measures in electing their
leaders, noting that the principles of ‘practicality’, ‘autocracy’ and ‘he-
redity’ were traditionally seen as equally valid bases of leaders’ elections
and influenced parties in Europe (1964: 133).1 He also noted that the ap-
plication of democracy in leaders’ elections at the local level is more

difficult than at the national level (1964: 136). In the early 1960s
European parties were still in an early stage of implementing intra-party
democracy, and they often resorted to ‘traditional’ and ‘practical’ ways
of choosing leaders. Indonesia’s principles of musyawarah and mufakat,
or deliberation and consensus, were initially encouraged as a way to
suppress ideological differences among parties in the late 1950s.
Indonesia’s president at the time, Sukarno, was ‘moving in the direc-
tion of rejecting ideological divisions as harmful and destructive’, and
promoting musyawarah-type institutions ‘organised internally on com-
monalities of interests and occupations’ (Reeve 1985: 35). Similarly,
early European parties attempted to develop mechanisms for decision-
making that would ameliorate conflict. In Indonesia’s musyawarah-
based decision-making culture, voting was irrelevant because it was
thought to invite conflict between different opinions.2 The missing as-
pect of democracy in both the European and Indonesian cases was the
prerequisite of equality and fair treatment for everyone.
As we have seen, Indonesian parties have generally not practised
intra-party democracy in their internal leadership elections, either due
to local circumstances or government intervention. The current parties
face further challenges in doing so as they enlarge their memberships,
since, as Weldon argues, larger parties need more complex organisa-
tional structures, which may give members more chances to participate
but result in a decrease in intra-party democracy (2006: 468, 474).
However, while the fear of such a decrease is valid for parties in
Indonesia at the national level, it should not deter them from taking ac-
count of each member’s vote in deciding local leaders.
Norris (1995) differentiates between party leaders at the national level
and sub-leaders at regional and branch levels. She argues that national
leaders have an incentive to meet public demands in order to accumu-
late votes, but that the sub-leaders are driven more by principles, and
that they usually do not pursue a party career (Norris 1995: 31).
However, in a decentralised system such as contemporary Indonesia’s,
people can run for office at the local level as well as the national level,
and thus Norris’ argument that local leaders do not have governmental
career aspirations has limited value for Indonesia. It is important to
find out whether the current political possibilities in Indonesia have
changed local officials’ career orientations and whether local leaders’
perceptions of parties as vehicles for obtaining government seats have
been fed by decentralisation.
The objective of serving the party held by most party officials may
well change with the opportunity to promote their careers locally. Norris
argues that party staff at the branch level are usually volunteers with
strong beliefs and high levels of dedication to the party, who are pre-
pared to attend lengthy meetings in the hope that they may be able to

influence the ‘direction of party policies’.3 This argument suggests that

leaders at the local level have great loyalty to their party, rather than us-
ing it to occupy a governmental position or reach the national party
leadership level. Parties benefit from such loyalty and use the commit-
ment of local leaders to develop their party organisations locally. While
advancement in a party career is generally limited to national cadres, in
decentralised systems local party staff have opportunities to enter local
government, which may compromise their commitment to building
party structures.
Even without changes to local staff’s motivations caused by decentral-
isation, party branches of course still have to manage local leadership
matters. Local party organisation depends on the capacity of the branch
to conduct a range of functions, one of which is ensuring leadership
change. Studies of political parties argue that changes in party leader-
ship should be frequent and that there should be competition for those
positions and mechanisms through which members can criticise their
leaders (Janda 1980: 108-111). There should be fairness in the election
of office-holders and eligible individuals should all have the same
chance to be nominated. The same conditions pertain at the local level.
An organised local branch is one that is able to manage leadership
change frequently, and incorporate feedback and criticism from other
members in the process.
Local leadership succession is a local level party decision. Decision-
making within parties in democratic systems is a clear indication of
whether the parties ‘practice what they preach’ (Scarrow 2005: 3).
According to Scarrow, the inclusion of members in decision-making
within a party is the essence of intra-party democracy, with intra-party
democracy an indicator of institutionalisation. Scarrow suggests that the
implementation of intra-party democracy can be observed from the
ways parties select their candidates for elections and how they conduct
processes of party deliberation and leadership change (Scarrow 2005:
10). Leaders should be selected through a process involving member
voting and a clear party procedure should guide the whole process; the
absence of regulations creates dissatisfaction among members (Scarrow
2005: 10). Thus parties must make their selection processes transpar-
ent. Elections should be conducted openly and fairly, and members
should be familiar with the conditions of party career advancement.
A party career essentially entails the process of candidate nomination
as the mechanism of promotion within the party. Through this process,
candidates who are deemed qualified to occupy governmental or local
leadership positions are identified and chosen. A party with sound
intra-party democracy demonstrates its willingness to grant power to
members to elect their candidates, and provides equal opportunity for
all eligible members. Parties in Asia demonstrate a variety of ways in

which compromises are made between the principle of intra-party de-

mocracy and central control. When parties give more power to their
members, their central structures lose some control over party proc-
esses. However, parties also thereby show that they are putting more ef-
fort into giving power to grass-roots members, and even non-members,
and thus can attract more sympathy. It can be difficult to achieve a bal-
ance between giving up power and attracting support when formulating
effective and inclusive methods of nomination of candidates. In Asia
there have been efforts by parties to reform their organisational man-
agement in order to improve their decision-making processes by creat-
ing more responsible authoritative bodies. The Philippines’ Liberal
Party abolished its Steering Committee, replacing it with a larger body
with more representative members.4 In Thailand, the Democrat Party
and the New Aspiration Party also shifted the authority to make deci-
sions to more accountable bodies.5 These decisions suggest that parties
realise the importance of greater participation by members in decision-
The trend of creating greater accountability and responsibility of
members is also evident in some Western countries. Norwegian parties
comprehensively apply intra-party democracy, including in membership
ballots,6 candidate selection and preferential voting7 (Heidar & Saglie
2003: 228-231). The roles of local branches in implementing these ini-
tiatives are crucial, and give them and their members more involve-
ment. Regular members have more power and decision-making proc-
esses are democratic. In terms of party career, there is greater transpar-
ency for individuals and members have more influence in decision-
The sections below on the four parties examined here discuss how lo-
cal leaders are promoted and whether there is fair competition. Parties
require active participation for individuals to climb the party career lad-
der. Dedication to the party is perceived as a strong sign of loyalty and
treated as the most important prerequisite to advancing in all of the par-
ties. However, members at the kecamatan level perceive great difficulty
in advancing their careers, while kodya/kabupaten members have a bet-
ter chance at being nominated to compete in local elections. To improve
their chances of advancement, kecamatan members would have to relo-
cate to become members of a higher-level office, which would be a ma-
jor undertaking for most members. During my fieldwork, only PAN and
PKS had clear sets of policies to guide cadres who were pursuing ad-
vancement in their party careers, with specific requirements and condi-
tions to be met to advance to higher membership levels. The other two
parties, Partai Golkar and PDIP, had no specific career advancement
paths. Instead, would-be leaders relied solely on individual effort to
gather support in order to obtain a leadership position, suggesting a

lack of transparency in the promotion mechanisms. However, in all

four of the parties, leadership positions were legitimised by voting,
which demonstrated the use of democratic measures in internal deci-

Development of Party Career

The four parties had diverse policies for determining how members
and cadres could advance their careers within party structures. Their
national policies revealed how the parties managed the support and loy-
alty of their members and cadres. In practice, however, the newer par-
ties demonstrated superior capacity to implement central office regula-
tions, while the incumbent parties faced difficulties applying central
policies stringently. Generally, support and loyalty manifested them-
selves in individuals’ deep involvement in party activities, which usually
translated into an ability to secure party positions. However, the various
dimensions of the mechanisms through which loyalty led to higher
party positions differed.

Partai Golkar
Malang’s Partai Golkar leaders and cadres described a particular pattern
for advancing in the party. The first prerequisite was a high level of in-
volvement in party activities to build a personal profile in the party. The
formal requirements of the party included party training, which was on-
ly provided after individuals proved their dedication to the party
through their involvement in party activities. After this training, cadres
were usually assigned a staff position within a local branch. The next
step was less transparent, with some leaders claiming they had been ap-
pointed and some having been voted in by other members. The proce-
dure for career advancement in Partai Golkar did not reflect clear career
policies, but the party had adopted democratic processes of leadership
change. To advance in Partai Golkar, individuals relied heavily on their
own efforts and initiative. They needed to feel their way through opaque
party networks since the party constitution offered only vague criteria
for career promotions. Monitoring of careers within the party was lim-
ited to the monitoring undertaken as part of the role of local leaders in
providing prospective cadres with opportunities to take responsibility
for party initiatives at the branch level. Thus, although internal elections
for leadership positions were conducted democratically, there was no
transparency in the progress of an individual’s career.
Partai Golkar benefits from the strong loyalty of its grass-roots mem-
bers, who are generally determined to develop the party itself rather

than using it as a means to enter government. This was reflected in my

interviews with local leaders, who, although they did not specifically
rule out the possibility that they would take office, claimed that they did
not plan to use the party as a way to achieve public office.8 This senti-
ment resonated mostly among leaders at the kecamatan level, but even
kodya and kabupaten leaders refused to appear ambitious by claiming
bigger aims than serving the party. It should be noted that the current
system disadvantages ambitious kecamatan leaders, as they would have
to serve in the kodya/kabupaten office before having a real chance of
being nominated as a candidate in a local election. Nonetheless, the
wish to remain in the party showed that parties are not always con-
ceived as primarily stepping stones to enter government.
In Partai Golkar, loyalty was cultivated by leaders’ deep involvement
in the party from the time they became party cadres – the stage at
which party careers essentially begin. In both the kodya and kabupaten
branches, cadre status was obtained as a result of members’ dedication
to the party, as evidenced by their regular involvement in party activ-
ities: without exception, cadres and leaders claimed that they were al-
ways very active in party events9 when explaining their success in rais-
ing their personal profiles in the eyes of other members and leaders.
Their commitment to attending party events built up their personal pro-
files, which attracted the attention of other members and leaders.
Activeness in party events also demonstrated their dedication to the
party, which was the most important prerequisite for election to a high-
er position in the party.10 Their perception of how to advance strength-
ened their personal attachment to the party, resulting in a willingness
to make more effort to contribute to party events than other ordinary
The importance of greater involvement overshadowed the official role
of the party in ensuring fairness in party career progression, since the
party did not provide any structured mechanisms for individuals to be
recognised for their commitments to the party other than voting in in-
ternal elections. In Partai Golkar, successfully advancing one’s party ca-
reer started with success achieving a cadre position in the party. Yet
although cadre status was an important stepping stone in establishing a
party career, there were no clearly structured mechanisms at the local
level for the identification of cadres. Partai Golkar’s AD/ART (Anggaran
Dasar/Anggaran Rumah Tangga, Organisation Statutes/Bylaws) de-
scribes cadres as ‘members who are screened based on these criteria:
ideology, achievement and dedication, leadership, independence, who
must undergo leadership and cadre training’, while party staff (pengurus
partai) had to have, among other qualities, at least five years of service
with the party (Partai Golkar 2005). However, at the local level, the im-
plementation of these regulations was not strict. All cadres confirmed

that specific cadre training was provided by the party. The provision of
training suggests that the party perceived cadres as individuals who
were important to the party and must be equipped with relevant skills
and knowledge. Nevertheless, my interviews with cadres revealed that
although most cadres had undergone specific cadre training, others had
become cadres automatically when they became party staff at the local
branches. In addition, the process did not incorporate checking for spe-
cific conditions required by the party’s AD/ART. Among the conditions
mentioned in the party regulations were that leaders had to have previ-
ously served as cadres with commendable achievements and dedication,
possessed capability and were acceptable in their respective offices, had
not been involved in G-30-S/PKI,11 were capable of working collectively,
and had been active in the party for at least five consecutive years (Situs
Partai Golkar 2005: ART Chapter Twelve). The interviewees did not men-
tion any specific measures undertaken to ensure or measure the extent
to which candidates met these requirements – which means that the ac-
tiveness of cadres was sufficient to convince other members to vote for
After obtaining their positions as cadres, members wishing to ad-
vance in the party could expect to be promoted as leaders. All the local
leaders interviewed indicated that they had held other positions as ca-
dres in the party prior to being elected to their current positions. The
positions mentioned by the leaders included staff positions at one of
the party’s sub-organisations and treasurer and divisional staff of the
same branch where they were later elected as leaders. This indicates
that the party felt leaders would – and should – have greater knowledge
of party processes than that expected of ordinary members, and that
this knowledge had been obtained from their prior experiences as ca-
dres in other party positions. This suggests that career advancement re-
quired superior knowledge and organisational skills, which, in the case
of Partai Golkar, can be obtained from service in party positions rather
than from a dedicated programme of party training.
Despite the lack of clarity and the erratic means and ways of advanc-
ing careers within the party, Partai Golkar implemented democratic
measures in cadres’ promotion. The cadres interviewed for this study
claimed that they had been elected either by the party staff or members
of their particular branch. Local leaders at the kecamatan level also
claimed that they were elected democratically by the members.
However, the application of intra-party democracy was limited to the
election of local leaders. While the formal mechanism through which
leaders were elected was voting, the members and cadres revealed that
at times they were simply ‘appointed to positions’ by members – sug-
gesting that there was no voting involved, but just agreement among
members that a few particular members should be promoted. Thus,

intra-party democracy was only partially adopted in Partai Golkar and

transparency for career advancement at levels below leadership was seri-
ously lacking. Nevertheless, the achievement of even this level of intra-
party democracy was a breakthrough for Partai Golkar, which is known
for engaging in rampant money politics and lacking transparency in
The pattern of career advancement in Partai Golkar suggested that
both local branches adopted policies which mixed intra-party democracy
with less transparent conditions for promotions. In particular, cam-
paigns for internal promotion relied heavily on candidates’ networks.
Because of the close relationship between cadres and local leaders, party
cadres were generally in a better position to exert influence than ordi-
nary members, as cadres were usually more popular and widely recog-
nised, and thus it was easier for them to lobby other members for pro-
motions or local elections. Meanwhile, ordinary members had to get
leaders’ attention by building their party profiles in order to gain other
members’ support for promotion within the party. However, there were
significant variations in the practices that individuals engaged in to ad-
vance their party careers. Practices at the local level suggested that the
party no longer acted as a mass membership party, but was tending in-
stead towards the career advancement mechanisms associated with a ca-
dre party. Instead of adopting aggressive recruitment, the party placed
great emphasis on nurturing its cadres and equipping them with the
skills required to occupy party positions or to be promoted as party can-
didates in elections.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan

In the PDIP, career paths were highly dependent on individuals’ efforts.
It was up to the cadres and leaders of a particular branch to build per-
sonal profiles so that they would be promoted to higher positions in the
party. As in Partai Golkar, the conditions imposed on party career ad-
vancement by the central party apparatus were not strictly adhered to in
practice at the local level. The different levels of efficiency of the two lo-
cal branches in Malang affected members’ opportunities to participate
in party affairs, with kabupaten members having a better chance to par-
ticipate than kodya members. As a consequence, there was also a signif-
icant difference between the branches in the possibilities for career ad-
vancement in the party, with kabupaten members having a better chance
of advancing.
Party activists demonstrated strong loyalty to the party through their
long years of service.12 However, unlike activists within the local
branches of Partai Golkar, many PDIP activists perceived involvement in
the party, in particular in leadership positions, as a stepping stone to

enter into government. For instance, when asked about his wish to rep-
resent the party in the parliament, one leader indicated that all cadres
would share this objective. PDIP leaders said that they believed it was on-
ly ‘natural’ that joining a party was associated with the objective of en-
tering local parliament. But there were also leaders who wished to con-
centrate on developing the party instead. Commitment to developing
the party was demonstrated particularly by leaders who still remained
active in the party after serving in the parliament. Leaders also ex-
pressed a desire to see the party win the next election after losing the
last one, and they claimed that this was their strongest motivation to
stay in the party. They believed that PDIP can only serve the people if it
occupies the government. As a result, they said that it was imperative
for the party to win the next election, and they were committed to see-
ing that realised.
As with Partai Golkar, regular involvement in party events played a
critical role in creating individual members’ profiles in the PDIP. Cadres
and leaders claimed that their active participation in party events had
helped them get promoted to their current positions. However, there
were differences between the kabupaten and kodya offices in their com-
mitment to organising events. The kabupaten office was much more
successful at organising frequent events, which meant that there were
more opportunities for kabupaten members to improve their individual
profiles. Members at the kecamatan level revealed that they had organ-
ised fewer activities than those at the kabupaten level, with most mem-
bers at both levels singling out baksos/bakti sosial (literally, social work)
as the only kind of activities in their communities. Thus, cadres at the
kabupaten and kecamatan branches had less chance to promote their ca-
reers than did kodya cadres.
My interviews also revealed that PDIP cadres and leaders felt more ob-
liged to be active once they were elected or appointed to their current
positions. Party leaders uniformly claimed that they had served in pre-
vious positions, such as office secretary, prior to being elected as lead-
ers, or at the very least had been cadres. This confirmed that involve-
ment in party activities and personal dedication to the party were the
most important factors in advancing within PDIP, since participation in
party events was the most obvious proof of individuals’ dedication to
the party. The absence of a standard procedure for promotion in the
party made participation even more important. Participation and dedica-
tion had replaced the standard requirements for promotion, becoming
unofficial conditions for nomination to leadership positions.
Yet, the PDIP’s regulations specified particular conditions for individu-
al promotion. PDIP’s AD/ART sets out specific conditions such as length of
service and previous positions as requirements for promotion to partic-
ular party positions (PDI Perjuangan 2005: 55-56). The party’s AD/ART

does not impose specific requirements on cadres, but it specifies how

leaders should be elected at different levels of offices (PDIP Perjuangan
2005: 31, 34, 36). The party requires leaders to be elected by voting at
the respective office (PDI Perjuangan 2005). In Malang at the time of
my fieldwork, both local branches used voting to elect leaders, indicat-
ing that intra-party democracy was strictly applied in local leadership
changes. However, as with Partai Golkar, there were discrepancies be-
tween the party’s central regulations and their application at the local
level. When asked about the official procedure for becoming leaders in
the party, cadres responded that they did not know of any specific re-
quirements. Their responses included: ‘I think these things are regu-
lated in the party documents, but I do not remember’; ‘Party leaders
need to demonstrate that they can be trusted with such responsibility’;
and ‘It is an evolution that cannot be manipulated, candidates need to
fight for it and they have to be intelligent and dedicated’. My interviews
also revealed that the nomination process was rather flexible. Leaders
claimed that they had to put their names forward if they wanted to be
nominated and if there was more than one candidate, voting had to be
At the same time, the local branches did nothing to monitor individu-
als’ achievements or contributions. In the case of the kodya office, it
would be difficult to conduct such monitoring when the branch was in-
active, but no monitoring process was in place in the kabupaten office
either. This suggests that at the local level the mechanisms of career
promotion were uncertain and unregulated. According to the PDIP con-
stitution, the requirements for being promoted to the rank of party ca-
dre included being ‘loyal and obedient’, and having ‘proven activeness
in party activities’ (PDI Perjuangan 2005: 53). However, these kinds of
qualities are difficult to measure, which makes it difficult to create
mechanisms that encourage open competition for promotion. Having
vague indicators makes it even harder for the party to establish a proper
monitoring system to ensure fairness and transparency in career pro-
motion, and makes it unlikely that local offices will feel obliged to fol-
low central party policy on party career. Further difficulties were demon-
strated in the party’s effort to provide proper training for cadres. In
terms of cadre management, the party constitution assigns responsibil-
ity for providing training of potential members and cadres to a special
Badan Pendidikan dan Pelatihan Partai (Council of Party Training and
Education, or BADIKLAT). At the local level, however, the evidence sug-
gested that cadres were not properly informed of the purpose of the
training and the format of the training was unclear. When asked
whether they received party training, cadres associated such training
with ‘consolidation meetings’ or ‘meetings to deepen understanding on
party ideology’ rather than anything procedural. These answers suggest

that there was in fact no formal training and cadres were confused
about what they could achieve with training.
As a consequence of the lack of a systematic party career mechanism,
promotion to the rank of cadre and to leadership positions depended
on an individual’s success in convincing other members that he or she
should be promoted. Members revealed that they had witnessed party
activists lobbying personally to gather votes to be elected as leaders or
to improve their chance of being selected as an electoral candidate. One
leader also indicated that he had been cheated by another candidate
who had managed to move the leader’s name to a lower position on the
candidate list: as a leader, this interviewee should have topped the list,
but the other candidate had pushed down his name to third on the list.
This meant that he was less likely to get votes, as the names lower on
the list would only get votes after the ones above them.13 The leader
claimed that the other candidate had managed to push his own name
up on the list by lobbying with other members of the party branch.
Another violation was described by a local leader who claimed that his
secretary was involved in money politics and changed the order in the
candidate list. These violations suggest that the party has much to im-
prove in terms of the process and mechanism of candidate selection.
Although personal lobbying is always important, and, as Duverger
(1964) noted, exists even in the more mature Western parties, parties
should provide a level of support and certainty for longstanding mem-
bers with regard to their party career pathways, since uncertainty about
party procedures could deter members from being committed to party
In short, there was a serious lack of party apparatus involvement in
local party career processes in the PDIP. The imbalance between the fre-
quencies of the kabupaten and kodya offices’ activities worsened the sit-
uation, since heavy reliance on activism as the only determinant of
party career promotion created a serious disadvantage for the less active
branches, the kodya’s. Furthermore, in contrast to Partai Golkar, where
local leaders’ high levels of involvement with cadres may have discour-
aged blatant violations by other cadres and served as an informal moni-
toring process, such violations seemed to have occurred often in PDIP.
The application of intra-party democracy was overshadowed by infringe-
ments and unfairness. PDIP Malang needs to formulate clearer career
management policies.

Partai Amanat Nasional

PAN Malang demonstrated an outstanding focus on career management
at the local level. Although the lack of activities during my fieldwork pe-
riod meant that opportunities to participate in the party were non-

existent for a long period of time – seriously affecting members’ chan-

ces to build personal profiles through active participation – party
branches demonstrated their commitment to cadre training and regular
leadership changes. The practice of party training and career promotion
procedures mandated at the central level was strictly applied by PAN’s
Malang branches. The branches were disciplined in making sure that
all cadres received relevant training as regulated by the central office
and local leaders were elected by voting. But party training and career
promotion were the only areas in which PAN’s branch organisation was
Unlike in Partai Golkar, and to a lesser extent in PDIP, there was a
strong perception amongst PAN cadres that the party should serve as a
stepping stone to entering government. Kecamatan leaders and PAN ca-
dres indicated their wish to enter the government through the party.
According to PAN’s AD/ART, cadres are ‘party members who are or have
been staff and/or have undergone party cadre training’, and ‘party
members who are or have been members of government assemblies
representing PAN’ (DPD PAN Kabupaten Blitar 2005: 8).14 This provision
indicates that party training is essential for career promotion for mem-
bers, although it also heavily privileges members who have served in
government. With regard to party leaders, the constitution requires that
individuals have served or are serving in legislative or executive bodies,
aside from having to contribute according to party regulations (DPP PAN
Kabupaten Blitar 2005: 24).15 In this sense, PAN focused on service for
the party or the assemblies as prerequisites for career promotion. The
clarity of criteria for advancement in PAN created certainty for members
who wished to further their careers, but at the same time the criteria
were also very restrictive, and only those who excelled could advance in
the party.
Party cadres’ ambitions for government office were reflected in the
fact that their loyalty to the party was low. Interviews with kodya and ka-
bupaten leaders revealed that PAN leaders were pessimistic about the
party’s future prospects and they pointed to the decrease in PAN’s votes
in elections and the trend of party members switching to PKS; they were
apprehensive of the difficulties the party faced in building a stronger
support base. Another factor to consider about loyalty was the imbal-
ance in the prospects of grass-roots leaders being chosen as candidates.
There was pessimism among the cadres in the kecamatan about their
chance to advance to government. Leaders at the kodya and kabupaten
branches had a better chance at being chosen as candidates in national
elections. Kecamatan leaders were extremely cognizant of the fact that
they had very little chance of advancing to those positions. When asked
whether they wished to enter the government via the party, they re-
sponded by pointing out their disadvantage of being leaders in lower-

level offices and noted that they needed to develop their respective party
offices instead for the time being. They were aware that they had to pro-
mote their careers at the kodya and kabupaten levels first to stand a bet-
ter chance of obtaining candidacy status in a national election. For the
sub-district (kecamatan) leaders, to move to the district (kodya/kabupat-
en) level would be a major change, because it would most likely involve
relocating. That party responsibilities were still secondary priorities for
most members made grass-roots members’ prospects for promotion
even grimmer.
As with Partai Golkar and PDIP, participation in party events deter-
mined the development of personal profiles of members at the local lev-
el. Despite the fact that the party was moribund during my research,
the cadres and leaders I interviewed claimed that they were heavily in-
volved in party activities and perceived it as a precondition for their cur-
rent positions. However, PAN’s stringent requirement that cadres under-
go specific party training was also implemented locally and had proven
very helpful in building the specific skills that the party wanted in its ca-
dres. PAN’s recruitment policy specifically aimed for high-quality individ-
uals, and the consistency of the party’s provision of skills training for
cadres was in line with this strategy.
Proven dedication to the party and the trainings were two important
requirements of cadres and my interviews suggested that cadres and
leaders indeed had superior party knowledge. Trainings for cadres in
different kecamatan were usually held simultaneously and managed by
the kodya or kabupaten offices. The trainings were typically held in ses-
sions over 2-3 days, conducted by the party’s cadre section chairperson
and motivational speakers. The sessions covered topics such as party
knowledge and leadership skills.16 As a result of their commitment to
training, the kabupaten leader was well-versed in party policies (recruit-
ment, membership trends, activities), while kodya cadres demonstrated
their knowledge of party finances (such as contributions to be made by
PAN was also successful in implementing a national policy for the
election of cadres and leaders. While local leaders were elected by their
members, cadres were chosen by a local committee (DPP PAN Kabupaten
Blitar 2005: 12). Cadres and members confirmed that both local
branches had strictly adhered to these policies. Career management was
important for the party. Even when more basic procedures such as the
issuance of membership cards were absent, local branches strived to en-
sure that career promotion proceeded according to the party’s rules.
The party’s focus on leadership changes in Malang despite its
branches’ administrative difficulties demonstrated its high regard for
democratic internal succession. Their difficulties maintaining their or-
ganisations aside, the branches were committed to ensure that they met

the party constitution’s requirement for five-year leadership terms. In

the kodya office, the election meeting took place in a cadre’s residence,
further demonstrating the branch’s determination to ensure that this
process took place on time. Similarly, the election meeting for the kabu-
paten office took place at the secretary’s residence. The high priority ac-
corded to internal elections even during a time of administrative up-
heaval indicated that leadership was highly important in the party and
that leadership change, in fact, signified the continued existence of the
The importance of leadership change was also signified by an inter-
esting trend in the career paths of leaders, which benefited the position
of the secretary in the party. During the leadership change meeting,
both the kodya and kabupaten offices elected their secretaries to be their
chairmen. This suggests that the secretary position was important in
the party. This status seemed to me justified by the secretaries’ high lev-
el of service to the party. As noted earlier, the kabupaten secretary al-
lowed his house to be used as the party office, while the kodya secretary
hosted many party meetings in his home. The secretaries also handled
most administrative matters, which showcased their skills to other
members. Yet the secretarial position did not always lead to higher lead-
ership positions – local leaders held various other positions prior to
being elected as leaders. However, previous positions in the party were
important for career advancement as a means of demonstrating mem-
bers’ dedication to the party and skills.
PAN demonstrated much better management of party careers than
PDIP, as evidenced mainly by its dedication to cadre training, even
though PAN’s lack of activities limited members’ opportunities for deep-
er participation. Party career in PAN was influenced by commitment,
participation in party trainings, as well as prior party positions. PAN also
demonstrated its focus on cadres’ career development by its commit-
ment to leadership change through processes of intra-party democracy
during difficult administrative times. Although the application of cen-
tral party regulations concerning party careers depended on the effi-
ciency of local branches, which in fact were inactive and inefficient,
there was an extraordinary focus on career management and the
branches strove to apply central policies at the local level.

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

Among the four parties, PKS was the only one with specific membership
sub-categories and clear career policies. In addition, the party’s compre-
hensive socialisation programme for all members resulted in a high lev-
el of awareness of the party’s regulations on career advancement. The
transparency of the advancement process indicated not only the effec-

tiveness of party policy, but also the party’s success in familiarising all
cadres with the procedures. Participation in party events was crucial for
admission to basic membership of the party, but there were other spe-
cific requirements for advancement to the next level of membership, in-
volving a programme of specific training that was strictly adhered to at
the local level. Changes in party leadership at the local level were made
through democratic voting processes. PKS cadres were the only ones in
this study who could rely on party policies as the basis of their career
advancement. The clarity of the party’s requirements for career progress
also meant that opportunities for misconduct during internal electoral
processes were substantially reduced.
PKS created opportunities for cadre participation through the regular
pengajian (Qur’an study group) that local branches organised weekly.
These pengajian were also considered one of the requirements to pur-
sue a party career, since they constituted a form of training for lower-
level membership. For higher levels of membership there was another
skills training that cadres had to complete before advancing to the
next level. Cadres demonstrated in my interviews with them that they
were aware of what they had to do to climb the career ladder in the
party; their answers were specific and detailed when pointing out the
various trainings required for different levels. The active interaction
between the party and its cadres was an important mechanism for in-
creasing cadres’ awareness of the requirements of career progress in
the party.
As explained earlier, in PKS specific training programmes were man-
dated for each level of membership and every member had to go
through each of these before advancing to a higher membership level.
These training programmes were embedded in the three levels of mem-
bership in PKS, each of which had several internal categories. The first
level of membership was anggota kader pendukung (support cadre mem-
bership), which had two levels: anggota pemula (beginner members),
who had gone through Training Orientasi Partai (Party Orientation
Training); and anggota muda (young members), who had gone through
pelatihan kepartaian tingkat satu (first level of party training). The sec-
ond level of membership was anggota kader inti (nucleus cadre mem-
bers), which had four levels: anggota madya (intermediate members),
who had gone through pelatihan kepartaian tingkat dasar dua (second
basic level of party training); anggota dewasa (mature members), who
had gone through pelatihan kepartaian tingkat lanjut (advance level party
training); anggota ahli (expert members), who had gone through pelati-
han kepartaian tingkat tinggi (high level party training); and anggota pur-
na (veteran members), who had gone through pelatihan kepartaian ting-
kat ahli (expert level party training). The third level of membership was
anggota kehormatan (honorary members), a category for special individ-

uals who had made extraordinary contributions to the party. Specific

trainings to advance to higher levels of membership demonstrated
party procedure in screening individuals and produced committed
The success of PKS’s socialisation programme was obvious in the uni-
formity of the responses I received from cadres when I asked them
whether they wished to use the party as a stepping stone for entry into
parliament. They all said no. Their loyalty to the party was also evi-
denced by their claims that they had no wish to move to another party.
Another indication of their loyalty was that all PKS cadres claimed that it
was up to the party whether they would be assigned a public position or
whether they stayed in the party structure. According to the party’s poli-
cy, a designated internal party council would decide on candidates for
local and national elections, and the cadres were aware of this proce-
dure. Local leaders demonstrated even better knowledge and accuracy
in their answers to questions concerning party career than did cadres,
pointing to specific decision-making mechanisms referred to in party
documents. For instance, when asked about how decisions were made
in the party, leaders pointed to the role of Majelis Syuro (PKS’s national
decision-making body), indicating a deep level of knowledge of party op-
erations. The accuracy of their answers was indicative of PKS’s success
in familiarising cadres with its rules and regulations.
Along with the various trainings for different levels of membership,
PKS had rigorous central policies regarding an individual’s membership
status in the party, which were applied strictly at the local level. For ex-
ample, cadres had differential rights to attend activities at the office
that issued his or her membership card. This meant that junior mem-
bers only had the right to attend events at the regional level.17
Different levels of membership carried other rights as well. ‘Beginner’
members only had three rights: to participate in party events at the ke-
camatan level, to participate in party training and to obtain member-
ship cards. ‘Intermediate’ to ‘expert’ members had a more extended
list of rights, including to be given fair treatment when voicing opin-
ions, to voice criticism in the party and to vote and be nominated for
party positions (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).18 This system served
as a way to motivate cadres to climb the membership ladder. At the
same time, the provision of better rights for members at higher levels,
particularly the right to be nominated and vote, meant that it was com-
pulsory to be committed to party activities if members wished to ad-
vance in their careers and to be involved in the party’s internal
The trainings required for different levels of membership reinforced
the party’s membership system and acted as a screening mechanism
for cadres wishing to advance in their careers. PKS also specified other

factors in cadres’ career progress. Potential leaders had to have demon-

strated qualities such as strong moral values and a commitment to jus-
tice, a strong political and legal perspective, as well as meet specific age
requirements (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006). However, of these varia-
bles, only age requirements could be readily measured. The other less
measurable qualities were similar to the requirements of other parties
and were emphasised less than the rigorous trainings that were strictly
implied. In addition, PKS had specific requirements for leadership at
each level of office. The chairperson at the provincial office had to be
an ‘expert’ member, while at the regional office he or she had to be an
‘intermediate’ member.19 These specific requirements showed the
clarity and rigorousness of PKS’s leadership policies.
The strict regulation of membership and leadership in the party en-
sured that promotion and leadership changes were conducted smoothly.
In terms of decision-making for selecting leadership, there were stand-
ard procedures to be followed at the local offices20 and elections, as well
as other forms of decision-making, had to be conducted by voting
(Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006). Like the other parties, PKS strictly ap-
plied voting mechanisms in internal elections at the local level. During
my fieldwork, the kodya and kabupaten Malang branches conducted
their internal elections around the same period, as leaders from both of-
fices indicated that there were certain deadlines they had to meet for
the completion of leadership transition. The party also pioneered a reg-
ulation which ensured that once a candidate was elected into govern-
ment seats, he or she had to give up any positions held in the party.21
This policy reduced the possibilities of corruption and misconduct by
ensuring that the party received full attention from its leaders and staff.
With the passing of this regulation, the party demonstrated its rejection
of one of the practices of the New Order that allowed individuals to oc-
cupy dual positions, which opened up opportunities for violations. The
party portrays a clean image.
The main feature of party career progression in PKS was the clarity of
the party’s policy and its direct connection to party membership levels.
PKS had clear guidelines for all members who wished to pursue career
development, and guaranteed transparency and fairness for all mem-
bers. PKS policy also ensured that electoral candidates were chosen by
the party council and forced these candidates to choose between serving
in a government position or staying in the party. The strict application
of procedures reduced the possibilities of foul play and corruption in
the party. Compared with the other three parties, PKS was clearly superi-
or in its regulation of career management and strict implementation of
national policies. The party’s success with reproducing these policies at
the local level created effective and committed local leaders.

Party Career and the Implementation of Intra-party Democracy as

a Sign of Party Institutionalisation

The management of party careers within the four parties suggests that
the newer parties were more focused on putting training mechanisms
in place which not only acted as screening methods, but also as means
of equipping members and cadres with necessary skills and knowledge
of the party and its organisational structure. There was a serious ab-
sence of a monitoring system among the two incumbents, particularly
PDIP, whose local branches abandoned party training for cadres alto-
gether. In Partai Golkar, the monitoring process relied on local leaders,
who played an influential role in nurturing cadres and had close and
constant interaction with them. In both incumbent parties, regulations
were vague and difficult to implement and the branches had a very lim-
ited role in monitoring career progress.
Through party management, parties can showcase their progress in
creating opportunities for members. The central party institutions of
the four parties each made an effort to create such opportunities.
However, they faced difficulties ensuring that those conditions were
met at the local level.
Career promotions were regulated in the parties’ constitutions, which
provided varying levels of detail about procedures for career advance-
ment, including through the election of cadres and leaders. Incumbent
parties’ regulations concerning party career were vague and difficult to
measure. As a result, they had only a very limited monitoring system
and cadres often had to resort to their own individual efforts to promote
themselves. Local branches had difficulties monitoring individual ca-
reers. The absence of clear guidelines for career promotion also meant
that there were a significant number of violations, where members and
cadres felt treated unjustly as a result of personal lobbying from other
candidates. The incumbent parties failed to minimise such possibilities
by failing to impose greater control from higher party authorities.
In contrast, the newer parties had a stronger focus on career manage-
ment, with stringent national policies that were strictly applied at the
branch level. Both PAN and PKS devoted considerable attention to nurtur-
ing and educating their cadres through cadre trainings. For PAN, despite
organisational problems at the district level (kodya and kabupaten), sub-
district (kecamatan) branches demonstrated great commitment to ensur-
ing that training was conducted for all cadres. The PKS cadre-training
programme was compulsory and automatic, as part of the programme
was embedded in the party’s regular pengajian. Both PKS and PAN were
also successful in conducting local leadership elections on time – which
for PAN was particularly extraordinary given the chaotic district
branches’ administration. This suggests that the younger parties felt

more urgency to have organised career management systems, while the

incumbents relied more on traditional practices of appointment rather
than more selective procedures of monitoring and voting.
Although career management distinguished the incumbents from
the young parties, in all cases aspirations for promotion depended heav-
ily on the individual. Party careers were not generally seen as a promis-
ing occupation in Indonesia and most local party leaders still held regu-
lar jobs. However, there were members and cadres who exhibited a
strong desire to reach higher party positions. These individuals were
the backbones of the branches. In turn, their participation and dedica-
tion helped improve their profiles in the party. To be called a ‘cadre’ is
an acknowledgement from the party that the individual has served the
branch,22 and those who aspire to leadership positions usually start
from holding a party position as a cadre.
However, the parties treated their cadres differently. They were valued
by Partai Golkar, PKS and PAN, where they occupied party staff positions
and benefited from their close relationships with leaders. In PDIP, on
the other hand, promotion to the status of cadre was not regulated in
practice. Although they too were close to local leaders, PDIP’s cadres did
not receive the benefit of further training as cadres from other parties
did, mainly because the branches were not committed to organising
training programmes. More importantly, the parties’ treatment of ca-
dres with regard to party career advancement differed. While PKS’s clear
policy meant that its cadres benefited from knowing what to do and
what to expect, the other three parties had vague requirements for
screening the promotion of cadres. Thus, only PKS cadres could rely on
party policy documents, while cadres of other parties had to rely on
their own ideas to determine how best to advance their party careers.
Despite possible violations and unfairness in career management, all
four parties demonstrated their commitment to democratic measures
in leadership change. Although personal lobbying still played an impor-
tant role in building support for individuals, the widespread use of vot-
ing brought a certain level of fairness to the process. All the parties’
branches valued input from members and implemented democratic
decision-making by using voting mechanisms in leader elections.
Leadership elections at the branch level served as proof that the
branches ‘practice what they preach’ (Scarrow 2005) and implement
democratic measures to elect their leaders. The existence of clear proce-
dures for leadership change and the implementation of voting in leader
elections suggest that the parties were making progress in institu-
The four parties all regarded participation as the main requirement
and main expression of loyalty, dedication and capacity. In PKS, member-
ship could only continue if cadres were active in party events. Partai

Golkar, PDIP, and PAN cadres and leaders claimed that involvement in
party events was crucial to achieving advancement within their respec-
tive parties. Cadre status in Partai Golkar, PDIP and PAN seemed to be ac-
corded automatically to members who were active. In these parties,
there was no official ceremony to elect cadres and, despite the list of
qualities defined in party constitutions, there was no procedure speci-
fied to choose them. In some cases, cadre positions were accorded to
members who were assigned staff positions in the party, suggesting that
these positions were perceived as important and could only be filled by
members who had proven their ability and dedication to the party. Only
after serving as party staff could cadres expect to be nominated as lead-
ers. But only a limited portion of members could and did dedicate their
time to intense participation in party affairs and thus achieve cadre po-
sitions. This meant that active participation acted as a screening method
to separate active members from non-active members.
The parties’ approaches to party careers differed significantly be-
tween the incumbent and the newer parties. PKS had strict and clear
policies on career advancement within the party. It managed to regu-
late membership advancement and leadership by requiring that specif-
ic conditions be met in order for individuals to advance in their mem-
bership or be nominated as leaders. The party also created party
bodies to safeguard the fairness of career advancement processes, and
to minimise possibilities of misconduct in the implementation of its
rules. In this regard, PKS demonstrated maturity and sound organisa-
tion at the local branch level and a high level of local adherence to na-
tional level policies. Similarly, unlike its attitude towards party organi-
sation, PAN showed discipline in implementing national career manage-
ment policies. Although activities were very rarely held, PAN’s Malang
branches successfully managed leadership change at the district level,
and procedures for career promotion were adhered to by sub-district
branches. In contrast, Partai Golkar and PDIP relied on vague qualities
and less transparent procedures for monitoring career progress. It was
hard for the branches to determine whether cadres had achieved the
desired level of loyalty (Partai Golkar) and strong ideology (PDIP) for ca-
reer promotions; these criteria were not only hard to measure for the
branches, regardless of whether they tried to put a system in place,
but they also left room for violations and unfairness. It is important
for the parties to realise possibilities of misconduct and ensure that
members are protected from it. However, there was no indication that
the incumbent parties planned to deal with this matter, particularly as
local leadership changes had been conducted smoothly to date.
Aside from these differences, the incumbents and young parties
shared some similarities in terms of how they were perceived as ve-
hicles to enter governmental positions. With the exception of Partai

Golkar, interviews with local leaders suggested that, in line with Norris’
argument (1995), for local leaders party career takes a back seat to
members’ motivation to be involved in government. However, local
leaders were also committed to the welfare of their local branches and
wished to see the branches develop under their management; that was
seen as more important than the progress of their individual careers in
the party. Only a few party activists succeed in achieving national leader-
ship positions and local leaders were aware of this. As a result, party ac-
tivists tended to focus on their own localities, since they were unlikely
to relocate just for a better chance to promote their party career. They al-
so tended to prioritise their non-party occupations.
Finally, leadership change was treated as important in all four parties.
Frequent changes of leadership in the branches showed the parties’
ability to manage succession at the local level. It also indicated that the
relationships with the respective parties’ regional and central offices
had been maintained by leader election mechanisms that required
branches at the lower level to be represented at the higher level. This
procedure ensured regular contact between party offices at different lev-
els and at the same time guaranteed that local branches had a say in de-
cision-making processes at higher offices. At the same time, offices at
higher levels had to give their approval and approve the new leaders.
Well-managed succession and leadership change at the four parties is a
strong sign of party institutionalisation (Janda 1980). More importantly,
implementation of intra-party democracy is a crucial indication that the
parties were distancing themselves from traditional practices of leader-
ship, such as appointment by a higher office, which is important for
the progress of party organisation.


The four parties’ efforts to facilitate party career management suggest

mixed results for their progress on institutionalisation. On the one
hand, with the exception of PKS, the parties had unclear party career
paths, forcing individuals to rely on their own efforts to build their
personal profiles, usually almost exclusively through their active partic-
ipation in party activities. PKS demonstrated itself to be the most organ-
ised in career management due to its rigour in applying national regu-
lations at the local levels. But PAN demonstrated outstanding commit-
ment to ensuring strict adherence to its national career management
policies. Meanwhile, the incumbents, Partai Golkar and PDIP, lagged
behind in terms of transparency, both with regard to their national-
level regulations and in practice through their local promotion

PKS demonstrated the most sophisticated membership management

system. In contrast to Partai Golkar, PDIP and PAN, where membership
levels only consisted of ordinary members, cadres and leaders, PKS had
a complex structure of membership levels through which members had
to pass before becoming eligible to contest for a leadership position.
This structure suggests that it was more difficult and took more com-
mitment to climb the party career ladder in PKS than in the other three
parties. The fact that it was harder to advance in PKS suggests that its ca-
dres must have a greater commitment to the party. This also had impli-
cations for party loyalty, as PKS members were less likely to be interested
in switching to other parties if they did not progress in their party
The four parties’ progress towards institutionalisation has reached
different stages, which are not necessarily correlated with the length of
time each party has existed. Although the young parties have the disad-
vantage of inexperience, the incumbents’ entrenched practices may hin-
der their aspirations for renewal. Furthermore, at the local level the par-
ties need to adjust to particular conditions. The four parties have differ-
ent internal capacities and resources for dealing with issues at the
grass-roots level. Their local characteristics are not based on a well-
developed support system from their central offices. Rather, they are de-
termined by the commitment and resourcefulness of local administra-
tion. The ones with greater capacity and resources have a better chance
of overcoming local challenges and thus show more advanced develop-
ment. The next chapter discusses in detail the specific aspects of the
progress of party organisations in Indonesia, as well as the lack of such
progress, and how they have influenced the advancement of democracy
in Indonesia.
9 Progress of Party Institutionalisation and
Its Role in Indonesia’s Democratisation

My examination of Partai Golkar, PDIP, PKS and PAN has found that the
organisational superiority of one party over another depends on the
commitment and skills of local party personnel, as well as local resour-
ces.1 More institutionalised party branches have greater capacity to con-
duct activities and programmes and provide channels for political par-
ticipation, while less institutionalised branches, similar to the dysfunc-
tional New Order parties, tend to be passive and ineffective.

Little Steps Forward

Applying Western theories to Indonesia can be problematic, particularly

because Western democracies are much more advanced and their par-
ties are more institutionalised than those in Indonesia, where parties
have never fully developed. However, Western theories can still serve as
a benchmark for assessing party progress and the stage of party devel-
opment in Indonesia. Moreover, these theories remain the sole stand-
ards of measurement available for this kind of analysis in any setting,
including the transitional democracies of Eastern Europe and other de-
veloping countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Using these measures, Indonesian parties on the whole have made
significant progress in their organisational management at the grass-
roots level. Their ability to build ‘stable roots in society’ and establish lo-
cal presences (Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 5, 16) is demonstrated by the
mere existence of their branch organisations and the frequent activities
the majority of them hold. Compared with the Old and New Order par-
ties, the current parties have more genuine local presences. Their local
branches remain active beyond elections, in stark contrast to the parties
of the New Order period. Consequently, the branches of the current par-
ties, as those parties’ local representatives, are able to project and pro-
mote party platforms and programmes at the local level, which in turn
familiarise the public with them. That the parties can maintain local
branches has also demonstrated their ability to manage their organisa-
tions, as well as to recruit members and facilitate their participation in
party activities.

This study has also shown the importance of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of
everyday structures and processes for local party organisation. Facilities
and resources such as party offices, communication tools and finances
are crucial for the efficiency of a branch. The commitment of party per-
sonnel, who expend their time and effort for the branches, is also enor-
mously important for party organisation. So is branch management.
But no single one of these factors determines the efficiency of branch
organisation: they are all closely related. For example, strongly commit-
ted personnel are more likely to both desire good communication facili-
ties and be able to find the resources to obtain them. And better com-
munication facilities increase the effectiveness of the organisation’s
management, which in turn allows staff to develop better programmes.
Thus, the best scenario for party branches is one where all of the ‘nuts
and bolts’ of party organisation are present.

Party Organisation
Unlike the New Order parties, but like Indonesia’s early political organi-
sations, the parties in the reform era have the freedom to operate inde-
pendently at the grass-roots level. This freedom, as we have seen, has
enabled them to develop much more fully. In the reform era, the par-
ties’ local branches have chosen diverse administrative arrangements;
for example, some offices are staffed by cadres, others by professional
administrators. The fact that these decisions were made locally is evi-
dence of the branches’ freedom to operate independently. Indeed,
although the relationships between central and local party offices are
more active than in previous eras, the parties’ central organisations still
have little control over local branches, provide little administrative sup-
port and offer only general and non-binding policy guidance. In addi-
tion, monitoring and reporting mechanisms, I found, were irregular
and seldom enforced. One drawback of the local branches’ freedom to
operate independently is that it has limited their connections with par-
ties’ higher-level structures – so much so that when branches faced dif-
ficulties, as with PAN, they received little, if any, help from the central of-
fice. As a result, branches’ ability to use their freedom to build stable
connections with society and strong local structures remains dependent
on other factors.
Commitment from party personnel, whether leaders or cadres, exerts
the most important influence on branches’ levels of organisation.
Simply put, parties with more committed personnel have more organ-
ised and professional branches.2 However, party organisation also im-
proves with better administrative skills and resources, such as financial
and technological resources. Access to a regular supply of funding is
important to branch administration. This study found that the

incumbent parties, particularly Partai Golkar, had steady funding sour-

ces. This was an advantage that the newer parties were unable to match,
as reflected by PAN’s inability to manage its branches, which was no
doubt exacerbated if not partially caused by financial problems.
Difficulties finding a regular supply of funding were a serious hin-
drance to PAN’s continuing operations at the local level.
Party funding is an extremely sensitive issue in Indonesia.3
Transfers of funds from parties’ central offices to local branches were
very limited, my interviews suggested, and as a result the branches
relied on external donations. Party funding practices have changed lit-
tle since the Old Order, in that parties’ financial strength still de-
pends primarily on external sources (with the exception of PKS).4
However, party officials were extremely unwilling to provide me with
more detailed information on this matter. The parties’ reluctance to
share their financial information may suggest that their local
branches have responsibilities to unknown external donors which
could limit their freedom. With the exception of PKS, the parties’ lack
of transparency about finances enabled them to maintain support
through patronage.
The simple fact that party branches are able to organise themselves
independently at any level is a genuine breakthrough in Indonesia. Yet,
this same independence can present challenges for the branches in sit-
uations where they are unable to support themselves independently. As
earlier chapters showed, some local party branches in Malang lacked ad-
ministrative support, funding and/or the commitment required to en-
sure uninterrupted party activities. Given the varying capacities of politi-
cal parties in general, not all parties can operate smoothly and some
still need intense guidance and support, be it from their central office
or other entities. Failure to ensure continuity at the branch level dis-
rupts broader party operations and in a competitive environment like
post-Suharto Indonesia, support for a particular political party can easily
move to another, better organised party.

Party Activities
At the local level, Partai Golkar, PDIP, PKS and PAN demonstrated that they
are no longer merely vote-getting machines that only operate during
election periods, as was the case under the New Order. Rather, they are
active political channels for members of the community. The case stud-
ies presented here suggest that parties project and give form to their
policies through their choices of activities at the local level. The inde-
pendence of the branches of the four parties was clearly demonstrated
by the variety of activities they held and their diverse approaches to-
wards issues like recruitment. This variation, along with PKS’s strong

preference for Islamic-themed activities, confirms that the central gov-

ernment no longer controls parties’ behaviour. It also suggests that the
freedom branches have within party structures to choose their own local
administrative arrangements extends to freedom to choose their activ-
ities. Such decisions about local party branch activities lie with local
party personnel. The lack of central office monitoring means that
branch leaders and other key personnel have control over the kinds of
activities particular branches organise. Ultimately, it also means that
they have influence over whether a particular branch is active or not.
The independence of the branches is manifested in the different kinds
of events held by branches of the same party. Although this freedom
forces the different branches to be better organised, it also highlights
the heavy reliance of the parties’ central offices on the branches. If the
branches are unable to organise events efficiently, national party pro-
grammes cannot be implemented at the local level.
The trend towards decentralisation in decision-making about party ac-
tivities is another breakthrough in Indonesia. In the Old Order period,
although parties’ local branches actively organised their own events,
they tended to choose similar activities to those held by their central of-
fices. For instance, in the post-independence period (i.e. after 1945),
PNI’s branches chose to create local publications mirroring the central
office’s orientation. In contrast, PDIP’s twenty-first-century donor darah
(blood donation) programme was a purely local initiative. However,
their independence also led the parties to choose, at times, popular ac-
tivities favoured in previous eras, such as the PDIP kabupaten office’s ari-
san (the rotating credit scheme with monthly draws), which was used
earlier by PNI and PDI (Aspinall 2005: 172). In this sense, freedom not
only spawned greater creativity by reform-era parties and the develop-
ment of a wide range of different activities, it also gave them the option
of retaining well-established social events and programmes.
The variety of activities held by their local branches shows the parties’
different levels of creativity. The more organised parties were better at
gauging which type of event would be popular at a particular time. The
best example of this was Partai Golkar’s decision to help bakso vendors
when they needed help re-establishing the food’s popularity and reputa-
tion after allegations of contamination with formalin. PKS demonstrated
its ability to keep up-to-date with its members’ lifestyles by teaming up
with an Islamic bank to create customised bank cards. PDIP and PAN had
no equivalent programmes, and only stepped up their activities around
party anniversaries.
Ultimately, the activities chosen by the four parties are indicative of
their local organisational capacities. The frequency of their events also
reflects their organisational capacities as well as the commitment of
their leaders and party personnel to promote the party in the local

community. An event’s success, in turn, indicates the level of public

support enjoyed by the party. In this sense, party events are crucial in
projecting the party’s image and platforms. Since a successful event re-
quires good organisation, a branch’s capacity to organise and adminis-
trate itself is crucial in ensuring a party’s presence at the local level.

Recruitment Approaches
Their grass-roots recruitment efforts are the most significant proof of
the four parties’ independence after the fall of Suharto in 1998.5 Yet the
emphasis on leaders’ charisma and party programmes to attract voters
that was seen in Sukarno’s Indonesia decades ago still can be seen to-
day. PDIP maintains the PNI’s traditional practice of attracting support
through charismatic leaders, while PKS, similar to PKI, pursues a party-
programme-based recruitment strategy. Patronage also provides means
and motivations for recruitment, particularly for well-endowed parties
such as Partai Golkar. For PDIP, the high visibility of the party’s national
leader and the role of local leaders in local government may explain
why it remains popular despite its lack of organisational capacity.
The responsibility of local branches for managing recruitment illus-
trates both the tendency towards decentralisation in political parties and
progress towards party institutionalisation in Indonesia. Successful re-
cruitment drives demonstrate that parties are able to connect to the
grass-roots and are making it possible for the public to participate in
politics through local party structures. Of course, local branches com-
pete with one another to attract support and members can be swayed to
switch from one party to another, which highlights the importance of
formulating effective recruitment. Volatility in party affiliation, as
shown in the case of PAN, has created greater urgency to develop effec-
tive recruitment and retention strategies.
The perceptions of the importance of recruitment of the branches of
the four parties correlate with the age of the party. The incumbent, or
older, parties generally do not perceive the need for a larger formal
membership base. Naturally, the younger parties need to attract more
members to compete with the incumbents and therefore practise more
aggressive recruitment. The implications of these different policies can
be seen at the local level, with the younger parties clearly viewing re-
cruitment as crucial to their operations and aiming to recruit more
members, while incumbents seem to focus more on their party’s image
and popularity in order to maintain votes in elections.
However, local branches’ recruitment practices are influenced by lo-
cal leaders’ attitudes toward recruitment and the availability of party re-
sources. In Malang, leaders’ opinions reflected their respective parties’
attitudes towards recruitment, suggesting coherence between central

and local office approaches to this issue. Nonetheless, the recruitment

strategies chosen by local leaders are also heavily influenced by local
conditions. For instance, local leaders can be persuaded to respond to
particular community needs, especially if it involves competition with
other parties in the area. This further demonstrates the independence
and power of local leaders and their importance in deciding the roles of
local branches.
The branches of the four parties showed some creativity with regard
to recruitment. This was particularly true for PKS’s branches, which were
not only extremely active in organising pengajian to attract members,
but also penetrated youth groups in schools. PKS’s regular open houses,
the flagships of its recruitment strategy, also served as confirmation that
it recruited aggressively. However, none of this was possible without re-
sources. National policy requires sufficient support to be effectively im-
plemented at the local level. While PAN’s national policy clearly priori-
tised recruitment, unlike PKS it was unable to execute this policy because
of the difficulties it experienced financing and managing its Malang
Of all the factors examined in this study, recruitment was the stron-
gest indicator of the new-found freedom of post-Suharto parties to or-
ganise at the grass-roots. The ability of parties to directly recruit at the
grass-roots signified the disappearance of the New Order’s policy of
‘floating mass’ (which stipulated that rural masses be ‘undisturbed’ by
politics except around election periods) and parties’ new capacity to op-
erate at the local level. However, recruitment practices also demon-
strated the extent to which central parties relied on local branches. As
the case of PAN suggests, such reliance has the potential to jeopardise
the implementation of parties’ national policies at the local level, partic-
ularly if branches are poorly organised.

Members’ Motivations and Participation

According to theories of party institutionalisation, party platforms
should be the real point of attraction for members (e.g. Janda 1980)
and theories of democracy and democratisation associate greater politi-
cal participation with higher levels of democracy (e.g. Dahl 1998). This
study has found that some Indonesian parties still rely heavily on lead-
ers’ charisma to attract members and that for most parties participation
is limited to party elites, though their participation remains secondary
to their primary jobs. While in the Old Order ideologies played a very
important role in the construction of party identity, the reform-era par-
ties are similar to the New Order parties in that party ideologies serve
as mere slogans and ideas largely unattached to party operations. To
make matters worse, parties are having problems operationalising their

ideologies, preferring to adopt more populist or practical ways of engag-

ing with society.6 Except for PKS, ordinary members of the party
branches examined here had little knowledge of their parties and were
not engaged in party life. In short, participation in party life was super-
ficial for the bulk of party members.
Theories of institutionalisation identify a party’s platform as the main
attraction for the members of a well-institutionalised party, while charis-
ma is seen as detrimental to party progress. This study found that PDIP
and PAN were lagging behind Partai Golkar and PKS in their use of party
platforms as points of attraction. After participating twice in general
elections, PAN urgently needs to develop a more attractive platform that
can develop party popularity beyond the charismatic appeal of its leader
Amien Rais. PDIP faces an even grimmer outlook: despite its age and ex-
perience, the party is still unable to attract support beyond the charisma
of its pioneer, Sukarno, and his daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri
(although her personal dominance of the party suggests that support
for it will remain relatively strong). In contrast, Partai Golkar has been
able to erase, to a considerable extent, its links with Suharto by building
a new image as a modern party. PKS has also been able to direct public
attention to its platform rather than its leaders. Since party leadership
and the charisma of party pioneers are difficult to maintain over time,
PDIP and PAN are more likely to sustain voter support by building appeal-
ing party platforms than relying on the attraction of their leaders.
PKS’s success in creating an attractive platform has underpinned its
success in solidifying member attachment. On the other hand, the low
levels of member participation in Golkar, PAN and PDIP reflect the chal-
lenges these parties face in managing points of interaction with their
members. My interviews with their members suggested that these par-
ties relied on their images and/or patronage to attract as many mem-
bers as possible, but that they could strengthen their relationships with
their members through better use of membership cards, improved dues
structures and more regular activities. In practice, the parties relied
mainly on their activities to maintain attachment, as membership cards
were not always issued and dues were no longer imposed. Since branch
organisation is absolutely crucial to the ability to organise activities, it is
also key to the successful cultivation of members’ participation.
Thus, although the parties are alive and generally well today, partici-
pation in them is still limited to cadres. In large part, ordinary mem-
bers are barely involved, as they only occasionally attend meetings or
events. The limited interaction between parties and their ordinary mem-
bers means that the importance of their cadres is heightened. They are
the backbone of the branch organisations and largely determine party
efficiency and vibrancy at the local level. Some parties have made a con-
scious effort to focus on cadres rather than on their ordinary members

because their areas of operation are extensive and full participation

from every member would be hard to accommodate. But while ordinary
members are only peripherally involved with their parties, they are gen-
erally happy with their levels of participation. They do not necessarily
seek more than a superficial connection with their party or a greater
understanding of it. Although this is consistent with trends in modern
democracies (Linz 1997), it raises questions about the quality of politi-
cal participation in Indonesia and the effectiveness of democracy there,
particularly in the early stage of the country’s democratic transition. It
suggests difficulties establishing a more participatory political culture.
If Indonesian parties perceive greater participation to be important, they
need to formulate more strategic and pragmatic measures to attract not
only support but also deeper involvement, both from their members
and the broader public.

Party Career and Intra-party Democracy

The four parties examined here had little influence over the progress of
an individual’s party career. Compared with Old Order parties, in which
career progress was generally highly unregulated because of the limited
scope of central office-local branch relationships, the reform-era parties
demonstrated great commitment to aiding local cadres’ careers.
However, like New Order parties, most of the reform-era parties have
unclear policies on career development, and thus regulation is lacking.
But they generally emphasise superior knowledge and personal qualities
in the individuals to be promoted. The newer parties have more strin-
gent mechanisms in place for equipping cadres with relevant skills and
knowledge before promoting them to higher positions than do the in-
cumbent parties. The newer parties have thus made a stronger commit-
ment to ensuring that promotions are based on merit and are transpar-
ent and fair. The clearer the policies, the better the organisation, and
the better its ability to anticipate and handle conflicts between cadres
over advancement opportunities. Although I found that personal lobby-
ing was a key factor in gaining party support, party career policies gave
members opportunities for career advancement (if they chose to pursue
it) and allowed the party to screen candidates in a way that ensured that
more committed members advanced within the party.
Commitment to regular leadership renewal and the implementation
of intra-party democracy in choosing new leaders are signs of party in-
stitutionalisation and here the parties also showed some progress.
While party career promotion always involves personal lobbying and is
less transparent than promotion in the bureaucracy or military, the par-
ties can benefit from demonstrating even greater commitment to fair-
ness and transparency in managing members and their party careers.

But the parties’ commitment to intra-party democracy represents a sig-

nificant advancement from Old and New Order parties. The parties of
the post-Suharto period appear to be quite serious about implementing
democratic measures internally and as a result are more capable of
undertaking democratic leadership change. In this regard, the parties
are role models in their use of voting in their decision-making proc-
esses, which demonstrates their commitment to formal democratic
processes to determine branch leadership succession. However, aside
from active participation, which is critical for career advancement be-
cause it shows a member’s dedication and willingness to make sacrifi-
ces for his or her party, and gaining experience as a party cadre, there is
not much else that individuals can do for career advancement. Besides
lobbying, that is.
Only PKS has a stringent system for monitoring advancement. It stip-
ulates that cadres must pass through specific membership levels before
reaching leadership positions. In contrast, the other parties only have
vague requirements concerning a candidate’s track record of dedication,
participation and personal moral values. As a result, individuals have
greater opportunities to advance through money politics. The lack of
guidelines and clarity in the parties’ internal monitoring can also create
confusion over who should be nominated for promotion and unfair
treatment. Therefore, although parties’ efforts to conduct leadership
change frequently and democratically are commendable, truly transpar-
ent party processes require parties to be more involved in individual ca-
reer monitoring to ensure fairness for all members and cadres.
Overall, although Indonesian parties have made clear progress, they
still have a long way to go to achieve even some of the standard meas-
ures of institutionalisation. The parties have demonstrated progress in
their capacity to freely and independently operate at the grass-roots level
and their local branches’ ability to manage their resources and deter-
mine the foci of their activities. However, most parties still rely primar-
ily on their national leaders’ charisma for support and practise unfair
and opaque career management. Progress in institutionalisation has
been limited almost entirely to general branch organisation and, with
the exception of PKS, has not extended to membership management.

Stages and Paths to Institutionalisation in Malang

Partai Golkar and PKS are clearly more institutionalised than PDIP or PAN.
Tomsa has written about the ‘uneven institutionalisation’ of Indonesian
parties at the national level (2008). Tomsa argues that the continuing
strength and popularity of Partai Golkar is sustained by the failure of
other parties to institutionalise effectively. Although Partai Golkar was

strongly challenged by the rapid rise of Partai Demokrat in the 2004

and 2009 elections, this study supports Tomsa’s thesis for the parties’
local branches. Partai Golkar has maintained its solid organisational ca-
pacity at the local level, while among the other three parties, only PKS
has a real chance of matching Partai Golkar’s level of organisation.

Partai Golkar
Although it has promoted a new image, Partai Golkar still enjoys a
number of advantages over the other parties because of its dominant
position in the New Order period. Its main advantages are its extensive
network of sub-organisations at the local level and its opportunities for
engaging in money politics. Partai Golkar has the strongest structure
and the best resources, including financial reserves and valuable proper-
ties. In addition, administratively, the party has the most experience
and the deepest understanding of the demands of managing a sophisti-
cated organisation. As a result, it has been able to maintain a strong
presence and stay active at the community level.
The importance of Partai Golkar’s legacy from the Suharto era is ob-
vious from the party’s level of organisation. It owns its offices and has
the ability to employ salaried administrators, despite the absence of
compulsory membership dues. This clearly separates it from the other
three parties. However, as Tomsa has argued, Partai Golkar’s reliance
on its past strengths, particularly financially, is not in accord with its
new image as an independent party (2006: 47-48, 85-86). The party’s fi-
nancial prowess has definitely been influential in its electoral success,
but results from the 2009 elections also suggest that solid grass-roots
organisation needs to be supported by a united central headquarters.
Although Partai Golkar showed well-organised administration at the
branch level during my fieldwork, it still has a strong sense of apathy
about increasing members’ attachment. Membership enlargement is
not a priority for party officials because of the influence of the party’s
sub-organisations. This same over-confidence has contributed to com-
placency among officials about engaging members, reflected in the total
absence of membership induction efforts. This contrasts with the
party’s commitment to its administrative practices, such as the manage-
ment of membership registration, the issuing of membership cards,
and the provision of party training. Such commitment could have been
extended to induction activities in order to equip members with better
knowledge of the party and increase attachment to it. Furthermore,
there is no process through which cadres’ career progress is monitored.
My observations during party activities suggested that local leaders have
significant influence over who progresses within the party, as there is
no specific mechanism for cadre election other than the ‘natural’

selection based on active participation. A better member management

system would allow the party to impart greater transparency and cer-
tainty to the process of member progression within the party.
Ultimately, such a system would attract more party support, particularly
as Partai Golkar does not rely heavily on leaders’ charisma. However,
voters sometimes choose irrationally and emotional attachments remain
a strong determinant of Indonesian voter preferences.7 Thus, in
Indonesia, incentives for parties to improve their member management
systems remain weak. Yet, even with its flaws, Partai Golkar remains
the best-organised party in Malang.

Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan

The PDIP enjoys remarkably loyal grass-roots support. But, like its prede-
cessors, the PNI and PDI, it lacks managerial expertise at the local level.
The party’s heavy reliance on its image and its leaders’ charisma has re-
sulted in strong popularity, but organisationally there are numerous in-
consistencies between its national policies and their implementation at
the local level. The PDIP’s Malang branches lack resources and profes-
sionalism, and in the case of the kodya office this resulted in a rather er-
ratic scheduling of activities during my study. The kabupaten office per-
formed better organisationally; not as the result of better resources, but
because of the greater dedication of its party personnel. Fortunately for
the party, members’ near-blind loyalty and enthusiasm has carried the
party to strong election results. Although its poor local organisation
should not affect support for it in the short run, the party would no
doubt benefit from better organisational management. The PDIP demon-
strates that strong election results can have little or no correlation with
a party’s level of institutionalisation in Indonesia.
At the local level, PDIP’s branches have serious organisational weak-
nesses which could undermine its support base in the long run.
Branches operate independently, with no sign of any reporting mecha-
nisms to the central office. Branch-level autonomy has not led to good
local outcomes. The party has struggled to organise regular activities
and as a result has failed to attract significant public attention. Branch
management of members is also poor. No induction for new members
or training for cadres is offered. Members’ attachment to the party has
not been strengthened through party programmes, and most members
have little knowledge of what the party stands for. The lack of monitor-
ing of party careers has resulted in significant irregularities in career
advancement, giving rise to dissatisfaction among members and cadres.
In fact, the party’s only progress in institutionalisation is its commit-
ment to democratic measures in decision-making, including in meet-
ings and in the election of leaders – a stark contrast to the practice of

the earlier PNI, which at times abandoned its own membership manage-
ment system to elect local leaders.
Despite their weaknesses, however, PDIP’s local branches remain pop-
ular and the party remains attractive to local voters. Megawati’s leader-
ship has been the single most significant factor in attracting and sus-
taining PDIP’s support base. It is unlikely that objective assessments of
its organisational capacity by the public will undermine support for the
party in the short to medium term. The party will probably enjoy tre-
mendous popularity as long as Megawati continues as its leader.
However, the fact that the party relies so heavily on its leader’s charisma
is another sign of its lack of progress towards institutionalisation. In
Malang the party has benefited from local leaders’ status as government
officials (walikota and bupati); their positions provide patronage benefits
for members and voters which serve as an incentive to continue their
support. PDIP should learn from the experiences of its predecessor, PNI,
which, in addition to the charisma of Bung Karno, utilised strong grass-
roots management to build more sustainable grass-roots support.

Partai Amanat Nasional

PAN was the least organised of the four parties in the Malang area dur-
ing my fieldwork. Its branches had barely survived the organisational
inefficiencies caused by their lack of planning and internal structure.
PAN’s branches shared many of the attributes of PDIP’s branches.
However, in some important aspects – such as the problems that mem-
bers and potential members had locating branch offices – PAN’s situa-
tion was considerably worse.
PAN’s branch organisation depended on the willingness of a handful
of individuals to keep the party alive. Although these cadres and lead-
ers were dedicated, they lacked the capacity to ensure that routine
tasks, like moving offices, did not totally disrupt party operations. Even
basic administrative tasks were completed only sporadically. At the
same time, there were no reporting or support mechanisms from the
central office to ensure that the branches were able to operate. As the
branches struggled to maintain a presence, activities had to be kept to
a bare minimum. PAN’s case demonstrates that a lack of organisational
efficiency seriously disrupts member management. Its chaotic branch
organisation and lack of activities severely limited its relationship with
members. Registration processes differed between branches and
branches were internally inconsistent when issuing membership cards.
Member dues would have been impossible to impose even if PAN had
wished to. Like the other parties, PAN leaders indicated that they had
no intention of imposing dues, despite a lack of large financial re-
serves. The one area where PAN performed better than any other party

was in its dedication to cadre training and leadership succession at the

grass-roots level.
Though PAN leaders were concerned about the party’s ability to retain
existing members, aggressive national recruitment was seriously hin-
dered locally by poor branch organisation. To make matters worse, sup-
port for the party nationally had been dwindling, with internal conflicts
evident at the central level.8 Like PDIP, PAN relies almost entirely on lead-
ers’ charisma to attract support, but unlike Megawati’s stardom, the
popularity of PAN’s leaders is declining. To substantially improve its elec-
tion chances in the longer term, the party needs to invest substantial re-
sources in its local branches in order to ensure that activities are fre-
quent and regular. Only by doing so can the party improve its image,
thereby attracting more members and establishing a better local support

Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

In contrast to PAN, PKS has exhibited maturity in party organisation and
member management. Throughout the three elections of 1999, 2004
and 2009, the party was able to develop a very strong support base, as
evidenced by the increase in its votes. PKS’s success at the national level
was reflected in, and supported by, local branch organisational struc-
tures and practices. PKS branches are well-organised and they actively
and frequently organise events. Moreover, the party’s aggressive recruit-
ment policy has been consistently and energetically implemented by the
branches. The party also has the most rigorous membership structures
and is the only party with strict policies on career progression.
Coherence between national and local policies has been achieved with-
out compromising branch independence.
PKS’s organisational success reflects cadres’ commitment and profes-
sionalism. PKS’s cadres express their passion for the party in their dedi-
cation and service to it. Although branch staff are essentially party vol-
unteers, they are dedicated to party tasks and have the skills to conduct
them efficiently. As PKS appeals to a young, educated demographic, the
party has access to relatively high levels of technological knowledge,
which has also contributed to its level of administrative organisation.
The cadres are very professional in their work to boot, as demonstrated
by their swift responses to my research enquiries.
The growing popularity of PKS can also be attributed to its strategy of
maintaining an Islamic image, particularly in its activities. Although
most Indonesians are only nominally Muslim, PKS has been successful
in tapping into the growing Islamism in the country. All party activities
I observed revolved around two themes, Islam and recruitment, with
the latter reflecting the party’s emphasis on enlarging its membership.

PKS has also been successful in drawing on cadres’ support to recruit

more members. This was reflected in cadres’ enthusiasm to learn more
about recruitment strategies and in local leaders’ creativity in designing
recruitment events. At the local level, then, the party has demonstrated
its ability in and commitment to organisational management, and more
importantly in managing members’ support. As a result, not only does
the party have well-organised branches, it also has members who are
emotionally attached to it and passionate about it.
As the democratic transition period has progressed in Indonesia, PKS
has clearly shown that age has nothing to do with a party’s organisation-
al capabilities. With the loyal grass-roots support that it has cultivated
so diligently, the party has developed a stable support base in a remark-
ably short time. Organisationally, it is clearly superior to PAN and PDIP in
terms of its activities and administration, and in some areas it is stron-
ger even than Partai Golkar. Although its strict membership require-
ments might serve as a hindrance to attracting wider support – particu-
larly amongst sections of the community who do not wish to become
deeply involved with a political organisation – the party presents a
strong case that a new party can play a crucial part in the democratic
transition process if it can put in place the policies and management
structures required to attract and maintain the support of voters.

Implications for Indonesia’s Democratic Transition

As political theorists have argued, political parties play a key role in dem-
ocratic transitions as vehicles for accommodating different interests
(Gunther, Montero & Linz 2002: 58; Dahl 1998: 57; Pridham 1995: xii;
Mainwaring & Scully 1995: 27; Lawson 1980: 3). But studies on parties
in democracies and democratic contexts have been based on more ma-
ture democracies. While such studies provide important theoretical and
comparative insights, it has been necessary for our purposes to examine
parties squarely within the context of Indonesia in order to determine
their significance in its democratic transition. It is clear that parties re-
main the most prominent channel of political participation in Indonesia
and candidates for government seats still use them as their main ve-
hicles. This suggests that parties are a key institution for upholding de-
mocracy, educating people about democracy and applying democratic
rules at the grass-roots level there. It is imperative that parties are further
institutionalised for Indonesia’s democratisation to succeed.
Indonesian parties face many challenges. Indonesians are still learn-
ing about democracy and political participation, and parties have no
realistic reference points in other nations as they seek to develop their
organisations. Although political participation was lively in the post-

1945 independence period and during the Old Order, even then parties
were not fully institutionalised. Although early parties engaged in wide-
ranging activities and had branches across the country, they still re-
sponded largely to the situation on the ground rather than affirmatively
implementing party regulations in their daily operations. For example,
PNI abandoned its recruitment policy and promoted cadres from other
parties without following its own screening procedures because it was
more practical to do so.9 During the New Order, parties’ development
was severely stunted as a result of the government’s heavy hand and
the restriction of political participation. Now, Indonesian parties must
deal with many serious obstacles in their quest to prove that they can
be effective and accountable political channels.10 Furthermore, since de-
centralisation has brought local politics to the fore, local party branches
have become a vital focus of party reform.
One may argue that the current situation among Indonesian parties
is rather typical of a post-authoritarian system. Scholars have noted that
electoral competition often ‘does little to stimulate the renovation or de-
velopment of political parties’ in post-authoritarian contexts (Carothers
2002: 15). Since Indonesia’s transition to democracy began almost a
decade and a half ago, parties may still require significant time to devel-
op further. The legacy of decades of corruption and money politics
makes it particularly hard to escape these practices in the reform era.
For the parties, especially the incumbents, it is convenient to fall back
on such familiar practices, especially when accountability is not en-
forced (Choi 2003: 194). When a local PDIP cadre felt that his rights had
been violated when a more junior cadre gained a higher rank on the
party’s political candidate list, it showed that the party still lacked strin-
gent policies for governing party careers and that the system still allows
such practices.
Johnson has argued that parties’ ability to mobilise mass support
makes them apathetic about ‘political education or dialogue with the
population’ (2002: 733). She believes that there has been a decline in
party legitimacy in Western democracies caused by parties’ disengage-
ment with the community. In Indonesia, these arguments hold only
partly true. The better institutionalised parties – in Malang they are
Partai Golkar and PKS – have established regular dialogues with local
communities. Furthermore, because these dialogues are conducted be-
tween party representatives in local assemblies and party cadres, ac-
countability is improved. However, the other parties still appear apa-
thetic about engaging the public, as shown vividly by PDIP’s padlocked
branches and PAN’s chaotic local administration. More genuine efforts
to improve local organisation will improve the parties’ images, which in
turn will enhance their approval ratings and legitimacy.

Regardless of the imbalance in parties’ progress in Indonesia, there

have been remarkable developments in the country’s democratic transi-
tion. But there have also been real concerns about where the country is
headed. For instance, Choi warned against the danger of ‘undemocratic
consolidation’, where the guiding rules of political behaviour seem to
be democratic, but the substance of the system – those practices that
have become habitual – is far from democratic (2003: 194). Hadiz has
argued that an ‘illiberal form of democracy is already entrenched in
Indonesia’. He noted that lower-level government officials and previous
‘henchmen and thugs’ in the government now claim to be ‘reformers’
but continue to promote the unfair accumulation of wealth that began
under the New Order (2004a: 64).11 Indeed, the legacy parties, Partai
Golkar and PDIP, have failed to adopt fully democratic leadership selec-
tion practices or achieve transparency in their membership manage-
ment, despite having adopted the formal structures of democracy inter-
nally. Meanwhile, the adherence of the newer parties to more demo-
cratic internal party processes will be meaningless unless they can
attract larger support in elections, which will give them greater influ-
ence nationally. Undemocratic practices have remained strong in
In comparison with the theoretical ideals of political parties, the pic-
ture is quite grim in some ways. Although other parties are clearly lag-
ging behind Partai Golkar, even Golkar cannot be considered strongly
institutionalised, Tomsa believes (2006: 251). If an experienced party
with a strong organisation like Partai Golkar is still far from being ma-
ture by Western standards, then Indonesian parties in general have a
long way to go to become fully institutionalised. Liddle & Mujani argue
that Indonesian parties are choosing to ignore their organisations be-
cause leaders’ personalities and charisma are still important influences
on voter behaviour (Liddle & Mujani in Tan 2006: 107). However, all is
not doom and gloom. In fact, the Malang case gives reasons to be opti-
mistic. In particular, party members strongly voiced to me their satisfac-
tion with how their parties worked, and their sense that they were lis-
tened to. Thus, although progress has been far from ideal, the four par-
ties in this study to a great extent fulfilled the political needs of their
members when compared with their New Order predecessors. This
suggests that the parties are operating according to democratic prereq-
uisites of political participation (Dahl 1998: 37-38). Indeed, Indonesian
parties act as ‘principal mediators between the voters and their inter-
ests’ (Gunther, Montero & Linz 2002: 58), and ‘articulate and aggregate
societal interests’ (Hofferbert 1998: 7), as through Partai Golkar’s sub-
organisations and PKS’s and Partai Golkar’s regular dialogues with local
electoral candidates.

Impact of Party Organisation on the 2009 Elections

Nonetheless, the ultimate goal of political parties is to win votes.

Indonesia’s general elections in 2009 were the most crucial elections
so far. Would Indonesia revert to authoritarianism, or move forward
with democracy? Experts such as Mietzner pointed to the success of the
Partai Demokrat (Democrat Party, or PD) in 2009, with the party’s
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono re-elected as president, as a significant sign
that a party can repeat its success of the previous election.12 Observers
were optimistic that the 2009 election had consolidated Indonesian de-
mocracy (Sherlock 2009) and national surveys indicated that public
support for the state of the country’s democracy was strong.13 Yet, chal-
lenges remain. In particular, patronage and money politics. The main
hindrance to further progress of party institutionalisation in Indonesia
is still reliance on patronage and money politics. Financial power was a
key ingredient in Prabowo Subianto’s run for the vice-presidency along-
side presidential candidate Megawati in 2009.14 Thus, despite all the
praise for the success of this third free election after the end of the
New Order, some of which hailed Indonesia as ‘the best functioning de-
mocracy in Southeast Asia’ (East-West Center, 2009), questions remain
about the extent of parties’ role in Indonesia’s democratic transition.
An important new trend was confirmed in the 2009 election. A new
breed of parties emerged – ones that were established mostly as politi-
cal vehicles for their leaders. This trend started in the 2004 election
with President Yudhoyono (SBY) and his Partai Demokrat, and there is
now a growing number of parties that were established purely based on
the power and influence of their leaders. Gerakan Indonesia Raya
(Greater Indonesia Movement, or Gerindra) was founded in 2008 by
former general Prabowo, ex-president Suharto’s son-in-law. Although it
only obtained a low percentage of votes in 2009, it very strategically
used mass media to promote itself15 and the party’s publicity attracted
voters’ attention. Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat (People’s Conscience Party,
or Hanura Party) projects a similar image, as it is headed by a former
army general, Wiranto, who like Prabowo was allegedly involved in vari-
ous human rights abuses and was Prabowo’s arch-rival during the end
of the New Order. The party managed to gather 3.77 per cent of the
votes in 2009 (KPU 2009).
Thus, personality and charisma remain main draws for parties.
Gerindra and Hanura were established on the basis of their leaders’
charisma which allowed them to run in presidential elections.16 Parties
have not been able to escape their heavy reliance on leadership, further
damaging their chances of institutionalisation. However, this trend can
also be interpreted as confirmation of the openness of Indonesian de-
mocracy – any individual with leadership ability and charisma can

establish a political party, something which was banned during

Suharto’s reign. A democracy should rely on the electorate to decide
whether to place dubious individuals in power and the decisions of the
majority of Indonesians not to vote for these parties greatly boosted
confidence in the progress of democracy in Indonesia.
Another important trend is that parties have continued to rely on the
recruitment of celebrities and public figures as leaders rather than
breeding candidates internally. Although only a handful of these celebri-
ties collected enough votes to be elected in 2009 ,17 the drive to recruit
‘instant cadres’ has demonstrated the reluctance and failure of most
parties to be consistent in recruitment and cadre training. In this sense,
member management has been greatly ignored by the parties.
The 2009 election results in general reflected the tough competition
that the parties are facing. At the national, kabupaten and kotamadya lev-
els, three of the four parties examined here suffered declines in votes
from the 2004 election. Only PKS managed to increase its votes national-
ly, and only marginally – from 7.34 per cent to 7.88 per cent – yet it still
lost votes at the other levels. The largest decline was suffered by PDIP in
kabupaten Malang, where its percentage of votes declined by 12 points
from 2004; the smallest decline was recorded by PKS at the kabupaten
and kodya levels, with drops of 0.19 and 0.26 percentage points, respec-
tively. By comparison, Partai Golkar lost 7.13 percentage points national-
ly, 5.74 percentage points in the kodya and 9.18 percentage points in the
kabupaten. PAN lost 0.43 percentage points nationally, 3.12 at the kodya
level and 1.33 in the kabupaten.
As we have seen, Partai Golkar and PKS were more organised in
Malang than PDIP and PAN. Yet, Partai Golkar fared worst among the par-
ties in the 2009 elections relative to 2004. Rather than looking at
straight changes in their percentages of votes, let us now examine the
changes as a proportion of the votes they received in 2004. In 2009
Partai Golkar lost 33 per cent of its 2004 vote total at the national level
and an astonishing 55 per cent and 45 per cent at the kabupaten and ko-
dya levels, respectively, making its average loss about 44 per cent. In
contrast, PKS recorded a gain of 7.4 per cent at the national level and
losses of 6 and 3.4 per cent at the kabupaten and kodya levels, thus aver-
aging a loss of a mere 0.7 per cent. The PDIP lost an astounding 56 per
cent of its votes at the kabupaten level; with 24 and 32 per cent de-
creases at the national and kodya levels, its average loss was 37 per cent.
PAN’s average loss of 32.6 per cent came from losses of 52 per cent in
the kabupaten, 39 per cent in the kodya and 6.7 per cent at the national
level. Thus, PKS lost the least votes, Partai Golkar the most, with PDIP
and PAN in between.
The abysmal performances of PDIP and PAN in 2009, particularly in
kodya and kabupaten Malang, can be attributed to a substantial degree

to their chaotic branch organisation. This time around, PAN’s reliance

on charisma in national leadership could not make up for its poor
branch organisation. PAN, which clearly struggled to maintain its very
existence in Malang, will struggle even more in the future if it does not
improve its branches.
The disparity in the electoral performances of the better-organised
parties, PKS and Partai Golkar, was caused by more complicated factors.
PKS’s prioritisation of branch organisation yielded stable election results
for both the kodya and kabupaten. The party’s frequent activities, most
notably its flyer distribution and pengajian, proved effective as market-
ing and campaign efforts. The case of Partai Golkar, however, is much
less straightforward. Although at the local level Golkar’s branches kept
active, it was suffering from problems of national leadership. Former
party chairperson Akbar Tandjung recalled in his book The Golkar Way
that these problems grew more serious after his leadership period
ended in 2004. One party leader even became the presidential candi-
date of another party.18 The party’s leadership problems seemed to have
worsened the party’s deteriorating image amidst the rise of PD. Voters
increasingly viewed PD as the party with the best programmes, the party
that cared the most about the people, and the one with the best im-
age.19 LSI (Lembaga Survey Indonesia/Indonesian Survey Foundation),
citing its 2008 survey, even warned Partai Golkar and PDIP of the
‘threat’ that PD posed to the two parties and said that unless they worked
hard to convince voters in the remaining time before the 2009 election
that they deserved people’s support, their leadership would end.20 That
proved to be accurate. Still, for Partai Golkar, party unity, which was
highlighted by Blondel (1978) as key to party organisation, proved in-
valuable. Public perceptions of the ruling PD government were highly
positive21 and Partai Golkar attracted the most swing votes among the
parties. Golkar attracted an average of 5 per cent of swing votes during
2005-2008.22 Partai Golkar’s votes in the 2009 elections demonstrated
the importance of unity to party organisation, in particular for maintain-
ing party strength amidst the establishment of new parties.
Yudhoyono’s Partai Demokrat managed to triple the votes it received
in the 2004 election in 2009.23 A series of national surveys conducted
to investigate voting tendencies revealed that the rising popularity of PD
and President Yudhoyono came at the expense of other parties. Voter
support for PD and Yudhoyono had been rising since November 2008,
with about 19 per cent of respondents preferring the PD over any other
party; such support peaked in February 2009, with the figure reaching
24 per cent.24 According to the same data, PDIP would have received 17
per cent of votes and Golkar 16 per cent at that time.25 The parties must
have known of these survey results well before entering the 2009 elec-
tion period, but they were unable to anticipate voter trends very well.

Yet Indonesian political parties in general have made serious prog-

ress and shown increasing maturity. The party system is open to
changes and challenges from newcomers, and competition is free and
largely fair. Voters can be selective and the need to attract swing votes
requires that parties constantly improve. However, Partai Golkar, PKS,
PDIP and PAN have yet to demonstrate strong commitment and capacity
to progressing further.
Whilst the incumbents Partai Golkar and PDIP remain serious con-
tenders in elections, particularly given their long existences and influen-
ces on national and local politics, the developing parties PAN and PKS
continue to search for the right formulas to attract votes (with PKS argu-
ably doing better at this). At the same time, parties based on leaders’
charisma like PD, Gerindra and Hanura have shown the ability to attract
voter interest through the right figurehead. When all is said and done,
it is going to take a few more elections to be able to fully assess the ex-
tent of the parties’ organisational capacities, and the kind of party that
will survive and succeed in the years ahead.
While it would be overly simplistic and naïve to argue that organisa-
tional capacity will be the determining factor for electoral success in
Indonesia in the near future, a commitment to improving their local
presences would benefit the four parties. Failing local branches have
contributed to failure to attract more votes. Electoral performances will
no doubt still be determined to a substantial degree by the extent of
party resources and irregular practices such as money politics.
However, parties with less access to the resources required for patron-
age can improve their electoral chances by improving their organisa-
tional capacities and commitment at the local branch level.

Table 1 Election results in Kodya and Kabupaten Malang, in comparison with East
Java and National results: Partai Golkar, PDIP, PKS and PAN
Partai Golkar PDIP PKS PAN

Kodya Malang 1999 16.30% 41.64% 0.76% 10.94%

2004 12.78% 27.78% 7.67% 7.99%
2009 7.04% 18.89% 7.41% 4.87%
Kabupaten Malang 1999 18.32% 38.47% 0.40% 2.90%
2004 16.75% 28.63% 3.13% 2.56%
2009 7.57% 12.60% 2.94% 1.23%
National 1999 22.44% 33.74% 1.36% 7.12%
2004 21.58% 18.53% 7.34% 6.44%
2009 14.45% 14.03% 7.88% 6.01%

Source: Pemilu 1999 dalam Angka (Komisi Pemilihan Umum), Suryadinata et al. (2002),
Suryadinata et al. (2005), Komisi Pemilihan Umum Malang (2009)

Improving local party organisation may become even more conse-

quential as local politics become more prominent. The pilkada/local
elections not only highlight the independence of local party branches
from their central offices, they also bring a new set of challenges. In
the new decentralised system, parties have to perform better in national
elections to attract popular candidates for local elections.26 They have to
do more than simply compete – they also have to create alliances and
co-operate with other parties, often with different ideologies, to improve
their chances of winning local elections.27 This competitive environ-
ment gives greater importance to local branches. Better-organised
branches have more capacity to manage local competition due to their
greater opportunities to connect with the public. Therefore, party organ-
isation will gain much more importance as changes to the political
process are felt across Indonesia. Parties will only be successful amid
healthy competition if they become more organised.
Freedom and fairness are likely to be features of Indonesia’s future
elections. With local politics gaining more importance, parties have
greater chances to not only participate in but also contribute to the dem-
ocratic transition. But local elections will require parties to have solid lo-
cal organisation in order to compete with other parties effectively.
Although the levels of institutionalisation seen in Western parties may
not be reached by Indonesian parties in the short term, they will be
forced to institutionalise faster in order to compete in the new political
Current developments in Indonesia’s democracy are a mix between
old ways of operating and efforts to establish modern, efficient organi-
sations. Parties still benefit from traditional patterns, such as patron-
client relationships, to garner support. However, there are clear signs of
a shift towards new forms of operation, particularly in the greater use
of technology, but also in the creativity suggested by branch initiatives
and local activities. In their decision-making, parties now use both vot-
ing and the Sukarno-initiated musyawarah untuk mufakat, or delibera-
tion to reach a consensus. In terms of political party structure,
Indonesian democracy remains unique.

Where to Go From Here?

Despite the progress Indonesian parties have shown and the require-
ments of the political system for even more, there have been more rea-
sons for pessimism than optimism about the parties’ capacity to con-
tribute to democracy. In addition to the challenges of premanism, mon-
ey politics and legal disputes (Choi 2003; Makki 2005; Mahkamah
Agung Indonesia 2006), parties face significant problems achieving

higher levels of institutionalisation. Although some parties have made

significant progress at the local level, they have yet to achieve a number
of essential requirements of institutionalisation. Chief among these is
‘ideological or programmatic linkages between voters and parties’
(Mainwaring & Torcal 2007: 210). Parties such as PDIP and PAN have
been unable to create such linkages. Moreover, credible claims have
been made that Indonesian parties face an ideological crisis and that
party choices are based on irrational factors such as ‘culture, religion,
and personalism’ rather than policy (Centre for Strategic and
International Studies 2005; see also Liddle & Mujani 2006; Choi
2007). Though democratic processes are evident in local decision-
making and, to some extent, career promotion, personalism – endemic
since the Old Order era – remains highly influential. It has been mani-
fest in the processes through which candidates for local elections are
chosen by local branches. Studies indicate that branches choose their lo-
cal election candidates mainly on the basis of their affluence and popu-
larity rather than on criteria such as party affiliation or rank in the
party’s internal career system (Mietzner 2007: 251-252; Mietzner 2008:
243). Hence, the abundance of well-known and wealthy candidates with
no clear party affiliation.28
Parties face a particularly difficult challenge competing in elections at
both the national and local levels. As this study has shown, the central
offices of Indonesia’s parties are often virtually independent from their
local branches, with the branches receiving minimal support and guid-
ance for local operations. In terms of local elections, this lack of connec-
tion has manifested itself in internal conflicts, such as with the PDIP,
where the party’s central office dismissed local branch personnel for
nominating candidates different from those approved by the central
leadership (Choi 2007: 341). Central policies are often ignored at the lo-
cal level.
Yet, despite these challenges, Indonesian parties have the opportunity
to add a new and more dynamic local dimension to Indonesian politics
as the patterns of local politics become more established and local
branches more experienced. Local politics are, of course, not completely
divorced from developments at the national level, since national results
determine whether parties can compete in local elections.29 However,
the dramatic political changes that have thrust parties further into local
politics will force party strategists to show greater care in managing
their local operations. The ways parties’ local branches juggle the de-
mands of national and local elections and manage these different are-
nas, particularly in light of the 2009 results, will reveal more about
their organisations and strategies. Better-organised parties might not
necessarily establish successful track records in both general and local
elections, but they are likely to have clear strategies in anticipating and

tackling election failures by reorganising themselves or creating alli-

ances with other parties. Although major parties have a much better
chance of success in local elections, smaller parties have the potential to
challenge existing political patterns by creating alliances. This possibility
offers endless scenarios, where parties with differing ideologies work
together locally. Collaboration between parties that hold very different
ideological positions could reduce the importance of ideology for attract-
ing support.
Local politics represents an important new focus for scholarly atten-
tion on Indonesia’s political system, particularly as local elections in-
creasingly become a key arena in which political parties compete, and
over local rather than national issues. Poor electoral results at the local
level may force parties’ central offices to pay more attention to their
branches or to be more aggressive in recruiting more members.
Indeed, failure to do so could mean the end of the party, as better-
organised branches may be able to better attract support. Local elections
may also persuade parties to establish better member management sys-
tems, ones which ensure transparency and fairness in career progress.
However, it will be extremely difficult in the near future for parties to
restrict local election candidacies to those who have climbed the inter-
nal party career ladder, as parties still reap substantial benefits from
candidates’ financial contributions, and thus there remains a bias to-
ward selecting wealthy candidates. Overall, parties’ willingness to under-
take changes that promote further institutionalisation will depend on
their perceptions of the importance of organisational capacity for elec-
toral success, both nationally and locally. Future research might focus
profitably on how election results influence party strategies on local or-
ganisation, recruitment and member management.

AD Anggaran Dasar (Organisation Statutes)

AMPI Angkatan Muda Pembaharuan Indonesia (Indonesia’s
Young Generation of Renewal)
ART Anggaran Rumah Tangga (Bylaws)
BADIKLAT Badan Pendidikan dan Pelatihan Partai (Council of Party
Training and Education)
BAKIN Badan Koordinasi Intelijen Negara (State Intelligence
Coordinating Agency)
baksos bakti sosial (social work)
BPK Badan Pekerja Kongres (Congress Working Committee)
BTI Barisan Tani Indonesia (Indonesian Farmers Front)
Dephankam Departemen Pertahanan dan Keamanan (Department of
Defence and Security)
DIRJENSOSPOL Direktorat Jenderal Masalah Sosial dan Politik
(Directorate General of Social and Political Affairs)
DPC Dewan Pimpinan Cabang (Branch Leadership Council)
DPD Dewan Pimpinan Daerah (Regional Leadership Council)
DPR Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (People’s Representative
G30S/PKI Gerakan 30 September/Partai Komunis Indonesia (The
30th September Movement/Indonesian Communist
Gerwani Gerakan Wanita Indonesia (Indonesian Women’s
GPII Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic
Youth Movement)
HWK Himpunan Wanita Karya (Women’s Functional Group)
ICMI Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim (the Indonesia/Indonesian
Muslim Intellectuals Association)
IMF International Monetary Fund
IPKI Ikatan Pendukung Kemerdekaan Indonesia (League of
Upholders of Indonesian Independence)
ISDV Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereniging (Indies Social
Democratic Association)

Jaring Asmara Jaring Aspirasi Masyarakat (Netting the Community’s

Kami Partai Kebangkitan Muslim Indonesia (Indonesian
Muslim Awakening Party)
KBM Kesatuan Buruh Marhaenis (Marhaenist Labourer Union)
KINO (Kelompok Induk Organisasi/Mother Group of
KOPKAMTIB Komando Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan dan Ketertiban
(Operational Command for the Restoration of Security
and Order)
LEKRA Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat’s (League of People’s
LPK Lembaga Pengelola Kader (Cadre Development Council)
Mabita Masa Bimbingan Calon Anggota (Potential Member’s
Socialisation Period)
Masyumi Majelis Syura Muslimin Indonesia (Consultative Council
of Indonesian Muslims Association)
NU Nahdatul Ulama (Islamic Scholars Association)
OPSUS Operasi Khusus (Special Operation Agency)
PAN Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party)
Parindra Partai Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesian Party)
Parkindo Partai Kristen Indonesia (Indonesian Christian Party)
PARMI Partai Aliansi Rakyat Miskin Indonesia (Indonesian Poor
People’s Alliance Party)
Parmusi Partai Muslimin Indonesia (Indonesian Muslims Party)
Partai Golkar Partai Golongan Karya (Functional Groups Party)
Partai Hanura Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat (People’s Conscience Party)
Partai MKGR Partai Musyawarah Kekeluargaan Gotong Royong
(Mutual Assistance and Family-Oriented Deliberation
Partai Murba Partai Musyawarah Rakyat Banyak (Common People’s
Deliberation Party)
Partindo Partai Indonesia (Indonesian Party)
PBB Partai Bulan Bintang (Star Crescent Party)
PD Partai Demokrat (Democrat Party)
PDI Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (Indonesian Democratic
PDIP Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (Indonesian
Democratic Party Struggle)
Perti Pergerakan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (Islamic Educational
PETANI Persatuan Tani Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National
Farmers Union)
PIR Persatuan Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesian Union)

PK Partai Keadilan (Justice Party)

PKB Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (National Awakening Party)
PKI Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist
PKP Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan (Justice and Unity Party)
PKS Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party)
PMI Partai Masyumi Baru (New Masyumi Party)
PNI Partai Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Party)
PNI-Front Marhaenis Partai Nasional Indonesia-Front Marhaenis (Indonesian
National Party-Marhaenist Front)
PNI-Massa Marhaen Partai Nasional Indonesia-Massa Marhaen (Indonesian
National Party-Marhaenist Masses)
PNI-Supeni Partai Nasional Indonesia-Supeni (Indonesian National
PP Partai Perempuan (Women’s Party)
PPP Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (United Development
PSI Partai Sosialis Indonesia (Indonesian Socialist Party)
PSII Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia (Islamic Association Party
of Indonesia)
PUI Partai Ummat Islam (Islamic Community Party)
RT Rukun Tetangga (Neighbourhood Association)
RW Rukun Warga (Community Association)
Satkar Ulama Satuan Karya Ulama (Ulama Functional Union)
Sekber Golkar Sekretariat Bersama Organisasi-organisasi Golongan
Karya Front Nasional (Joint Secretariat of Golkar
Organisations within the National Front)
SI Sarekat Islam (Islamic Association)
SOBSI Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia (All
Indonesian Central Labour Organisation)
SOKSI Serikat Organisasi Karyawan Sosialis Indonesia (Union of
Indonesian Socialist Karyawan Organisations)
UNRA Universitas Rakyat (People’s University)
Yayasan Dakab Yayasan Dana Karya Abadi (Perpetual Work Fund

Chapter 1

1 See table 1 for election results for the four parties nationally, in East Java, and in kodya
and kabupaten Malang, on p. 206.
2 PKS contested the 1999 election as Partai Keadilan (PK, Justice Party).
3 The kecamatan in the kodya have typically urban population, while those in the kabu-
paten are usually mostly rural. The people in Malang engage in a wide-range of occu-
pations, from businessmen to fishermen.
4 All PKS’ members are called cadres and thus the interviews were conducted with
cadres and leaders for this party.
5 In any case, it is impossible to ensure that interviewees would be entirely open and
truthful. This is particularly the case for questions about party finances. It was beyond
the scope of this study to conduct large-scale independent studies of issues like this.

Chapter 2

1 The phrase was used by Sukarno in speeches at least twice: once on 28 October 1956
at a meeting of youth delegates from all parties and once on 30 October 1956 at a tea-
chers’ union congress. For excerpts from these speeches, see Feith & Castles (1970:
2 The Front was a council which consisted of party and functional group representatives
(Reeve 1985: 47, 94, 124-127, 129, 243).

Chapter 3

1 The alleged coup was called Gerakan 30 September /Partai Komunis Indonesia
(G30S/PKI, The 30 September Movement by Indonesian Communist Party). For a full
discussion of the coup, see for example Anderson & McVey (1971) and Crouch (1987:
2 For the rest of this chapter, the term ‘political parties’ refers only to the PPP and PDI.
During the New Order, the government claimed that Golkar was not a party despite
its function as an electoral vehicle for the regime.
3 The PKI was banned in 1966 after its alleged coup in 1965, leaving only nine parties.
4 Initially the PPP declared Islam as its ideology, although Pancasila and the 1945 na-
tional constitution were established as the bases of the party (Anggaran Dasar Partai

Persatuan Pembangunan 1973: 1). However, the government forced the parties to
adopt Pancasila as the sole ideology through an MPR decision (II/MPR/1983) and the
National Law No. 8, 1985 (Hakim 1993: 69).
5 For example Law No. 3/1975, No. 3/1985, No. 8/1985, and Government Regulation
No. 20/1976. See Undang-undang Tentang Partai Politik, Golongan Karya, Ormas dan
Keanggotaan Pegawai Negeri Sipil dalam Parpol atau Golkar (1991).
6 Although the PPP and PDI constitutions claimed to have grass-roots branches at the
sub-district and village levels (Anggaran Dasar Partai Persatuan Pembangunan 1984:
chapter 7; Anggaran Dasar Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1973: chapter 6), under Law
No. 3/1975, the parties and Golkar could only have a commissioner with a few assis-
tants at the sub-district level (Babari 1987: 606). The fact that there was no mention
of lower level administration supports the argument that, despite its official approval
in 1975 (Babari 1987: 606), the concept of the floating mass was actually enforced be-
fore the 1971 election (Reeve 1985: 291).
7 Golkar’s constitution also decreed that structurally it consisted of a Central Level
Organisation (Organisasi Tingkat Pusat, administered by Dewan Pimpinan Pusat/
Central Leadership Council), a Provincial Level Organisation (Organisasi Daerah
Tingkat I, administered by Dewan Pimpinan Daerah Tingkat I/Provincial Leadership
Council), and a District Level Organisation (Organisasi Daerah Tingkat II, adminis-
tered by Dewan Pimpinan Daerah Tingkat II/District Level Leadership Council)
(Anggaran Rumah Tangga Golongan Karya 1973: chapters 8-9). KORPRI is Korps
Karyawan Pegawai Republik Indonesia (Karyawan Corps of Civil Servants of
Indonesia), and a karyawan is an individual member of a functional group (Reeve
8 Examples of this can be seen in Surabaya and Malang, East Java.
9 Yayasan Supersemar was allegedly the channel through which millions of USD of state
money, meant for scholarships, instead found their way into the private account of
former president Suharto. The lawsuit against the president first lodged by the state
in 2000, and then relodged in 2007, amounted to USD 1.54 billion (The Associated
Press 2007).
10 KORPRI is Korps Karyawan Pegawai Republik Indonesia (Corps of Civil Servants of
Indonesia). The concept of karyawan – heavily based on the family principle (kekeluar-
gaan) and the functional group – was established by ABRI personnel to refer to ‘mem-
ber of a functional group’. For an extended discussion of these concepts, see Reeve
(1985: 191-192).
11 Army General Hartono said in 1996 that every ABRI member was a Golkar cadre.
Former Information Minister Harmoko once said that Golkar and ABRI were ‘two but
one’. See Gaffar (1996) and Eklof (1997: 1190).
12 Successive election laws did not specify the number of mass rallies, only the length of
campaign period.
13 Even before that, in 1973 Golkar reported that it trained 560 cadres in ten provinces
(Reeve 1985: 326).
14 It must be noted that these claims were received with much skepticism over whether
the numbers were exaggerated and criticisms were made of the quality of new recruits
(Reeve 1990: 154-155).
15 As Suryadinata noted ‘if the PPP became less Islamic because of the government law,
Golkar gradually became more Islamic’ (Suryadinata 1997: 194).
16 Ordinary members (anggota biasa) can become cadre members (anggota kader) once they
can prove their loyalty and obedience to the party, as well as capacity to initiate activities
within the party. The promotion was suggested by the respective branch and approved
by the central office (Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1973: chap-
ter 5; Anggaran Rumah Tangga Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 1989: chapters 6-8).

17 The PDIP then distinguished itself by introducing a white nose.

18 It is important to note that even in the drastically different new system, the govern-
ment still does not allow regional parties, communist and socialist parties (Undang
Undang RI No. 2 tahun 1999: chapters 3, 16).
19 The secret dealings between the parties that resulted in Gus Dur’s election were called
‘dagang sapi’ (cow trading), because of their likeness to market-trading processes (Tan
2002: 489), signifying the indecency of the process. It must also be noted here that
Megawati had significant support from the military, as a result of the combination of
her own decision not to directly oppose ABRI and internal conflict within ABRI itself,
which resulted in a non-oppositional stance from the military (Aspinall 2005: 158,
161, 164, 194-195, 265, 272).
20 In the indirect system imposed by the 1945 constitution, the president and vice-presi-
dent were elected by the people’s consultative assembly (Liddle 2000: 35). This con-
trasts with the direct system, implemented in 2004, in which the people cast their
votes directly for the presidential candidates. The direct system minimises the chance
of deal-making between parties that could disadvantage the genuine victor in an elec-
tion, as in the 1999 election when Gus Dur lobbied the major parties for the presi-
dency despite his initial promise to back Megawati, whose PDIP gained the most votes.
The direct system that was subsequently adopted opened the opportunity for candi-
dates from any party that gained more than 5 per cent of the votes to compete, en-
abling Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose Partai Demokrat only gained 7 per cent of
the votes, to contest and eventually win the presidency. For a full discussion of the
presidential elections in 1999 and 2004 see Liddle (2000, 2005).

Chapter 4

1 Maurice Duverger’s 1964 classic ‘Political Parties’ was the most famous initial attempt
to categorise parties into mass and cadre parties – with mass parties concentrating
more on quantity and cadre on quality of members. Duverger’s simple typology be-
came the starting point for subsequent efforts to develop more sophisticated typolo-
gies, for instance ones by Panebianco (1988), Olson (Hofferbert 1998), Wolinetz
(Hofferbert 2002), and Gunther & Diamond (2003) .
2 Blondel recognises possible conflicts that can arise from the various prerequisites
(1978: 142-143).
3 Although the staff happened to be party supporters, they were paid to be in the office
during office hours.
4 The office administrator explained that there were requests from students doing var-
ious research projects for past election results, which the party was happy to provide
(Interview with Partai Golkar Kabupaten’s office administrator, Mbak Yuni, 21 January
5 This was the case even after he spoke to central office representatives who assured
him that official permission was in process.
6 Indonesian legislative bodies consist of different fraksi or fractions. Different parties,
or coalitions of parties, make up different fraksi.
7 The record book of Partai Golkar’s kodya was complete with descriptions, photos and
receipts related to various activities.
8 The easiest way to contact party leaders and cadres was through their mobile phones
and they readily gave out their personal numbers.
9 Many of kabupaten’s members and cadres were farmers and fishermen, who were dif-
ficult to contact unless they had mobile phones (Interview with kabupaten secretary
Pak Andi, 2 February 2006).

10 The office administrator lived at the back of the building.

11 The main office door was padlocked and visitors had to go around the building to find
the office administrators who lived there with their families.
12 Some local leaders curiously asked about the official permission, referring to the na-
tional leaders’ signatures as ‘sakti’ – which literally means invincible and powerful.
13 The kabupaten administrator quickly handwrote the contact details of kecamatan lea-
ders upon the first visit to the office. Kabupaten staff were more responsive in regu-
larly updating party activities. However, generally both offices only gave information
about meetings or other events after being contacted weekly by telephone.
14 PDIP Kabupaten Malang’s chairperson was Malang’s bupati, and the kodya’s secretary
heads a fraksi (fraction) at the local assembly.
15 Kabupaten administrator, Mbak Sum, explained that the chairperson visited the office
‘a few times a week (Interview with kabupaten office bearer, Mbak Sum, 12 October
2005). The kodya chairperson only visited the office when meetings were held
(Interview with kodya’s office-bearers, 27 September 2005).
16 At the end of the fieldwork period, office cleaning had not yet finished.
17 The branch moved to new offices every year, which made it hard to keep the files in
one place (Interviews with party cadres, 7 February 2006).
18 The staff change for the kodya office meant that responsibility for handling requests
was also transferred to the new office secretary. When asked about the request, the
new secretary claimed that the request was lost and a new one must be lodged.
19 Even those members who do pay their dues make only a small contribution to the
budget, since dues were set around Rp. 5000 (Interview with kabupaten leader Pak
Widodo and party cadres, 7 December 2005 and 7 February 2006).
20 Ruko or rumah toko is typically a two- or three-storey building in which the lower floor
is used as a shop or restaurant, with the occupants living in the upper floor(s).
21 The request for research permission for this study was directed to the cadre in charge
of recruitment and cadre matters, Pak Amir, who quickly responded by setting up a
meeting for the next day. Although the research request was submitted to Pak Amir,
permission was written up by the office secretary and it was ready in a few days.
22 Pak Sophya believes that this is one of the reasons why PKS has been successful
(Interview, 7 October 2005).
23 It usually took the office less than a day to issue official letters.
24 The kabupaten chairperson usually came to the office in the afternoon after his teach-
ing commitments were finished. As noted earlier, the kodya chairperson rarely came
to the office, but he was always reachable by mobile phone and ready to respond.
25 Kecamatan cadres’ mobile phones were listed as contact details on various leaflets for
prospective members.
26 They wore safari suits, known in Indonesia as official uniforms for civil servants. Staff
of other parties wore casual wear.
27 PKS’ official website is:, Partai Golkar’s is: and
PDIP’s is:, while PAN does not have an official website.
28 The frequency and scale of Partai Golkar’s activities also proves that it has, to use
Webb’s (1995) argument, ‘available resources’ to be utilised for party purposes.
29 Janda, who did a cross-national study on parties, argued that funding matters are the
most difficult party issues to examine (Janda 1980). Tomsa confirmed this case in
Indonesia’s context with his study on Partai Golkar (2006).
30 Area coverage of the kabupaten offices makes it difficult to collect dues, and the party
would have to think about transportation expense and possibly labour expense as well.
31 For the other three parties, Partai Golkar, PDIP and PAN, membership dues are only
made obligatory in parties’ AD/ART. Their application at the local level is not effective.

Chapter 5

1 Partai Golkar’s, PDIP’s and PAN’s ideology is Pancasila, while PKS’ is Islam (Tim
Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 395, 367, 305, 232). Pancasila is
Indonesia’s national ideology which consists of five (panca) articles (sila). These (and
their symbols) are: belief in one god (a star), humanitarianism (banyan tree), national
unity, consensual democracy (a bull’s head) and social justice (paddy and cotton).
However, the parties have different priorities and orientations that are associated with
their ideologies as well, which are also discussed in Chapters Six and Seven.
2 Jaring literally means a fish net, but in this context it refers to the process of capturing
something. The acronym Asmara literally means romance.
3 These objectives were stated by Partai Golkar’s representative at the kodya assembly
where he held a formal discussion with party cadres on 9 September 2005.
4 At times the party is represented by a legislative member from Partai Golkar to en-
hance the image that the party does not only aim to secure votes during elections, but
it also cares for the community after elections.
5 Data from the reses held in 9 September 2005. Reses derives from the word ‘recess’.
In Indonesia the word is used to describe occasions when representatives in govern-
ment assemblies take breaks in between their official duties to hold discussions with
members of the party they represent.
6 Decisions are made based on the most useful facilities to provide or by identifying the
most needy sections of the community. These considerations were demonstrated at
an internal party dialogue with party cadres, when the cadres had various requests to
be considered by party leaders, held on 9 September 2005.
7 Partai Golkar’s kodya leader indicated that this kind of political communication is the
party’s priority rather than recruitment (Interview with kodya chairperson, Pak Aries,
9 September 2005).
8 For a full discussion of this matter, see ‘Multiple Sclerosis di Tubuh Golkar’ (Kompas,
13 Desember 2004).
9 Meetings held in the kodya office range from regular meetings between and within ke-
camatan committees in the kodya area, to ad hoc or urgent meetings on emergency
matters – such as coordination meetings to help tsunami victims in early 2005. The
office administrator maintains a small blackboard with details of various meetings for
that particular week.
10 For example, the women and youth division and the division of religion meet regu-
larly at the office. One example of an irregular meeting was the meeting to discuss ef-
forts to help tsunami victims in Sumatra.
11 This statement was made in the opening of one reses, held on 9 September 2005, by
Partai Golkar’s kodya chairperson, Pak Arief.
12 For example, in the 9 September 2005 reses, cadres brought forward the need for
school buildings in their area, while others complained that the government’s pro-
mise to convert a local hill into a green reserve park had not been implemented.
13 According to Mbak Yuni, one of two office administrators in the party’s kabupaten of-
fice, it is even difficult to distribute invitations to the different kecamatan since some
of them are a two-hour drive or more from central Malang (Interview, 21 January
14 For example, some cadres are farmers who are usually busy during the daytime, while
others are fishers, who work during the night (Interview with kabupaten secretary Pak
Andi, 2 February 2006).
15 The kabupaten secretary, Pak Andi, explained that he communicates with his cadres
frequently via his mobile phone.

16 Office administrators explained that the branch often combines meetings to make it
more practical for party cadres, especially those who have to commute long distances
to reach the party office.
17 On this particular occasion the employer was from Malang Town Square, a large new
mall in Malang.
18 The kodya chairperson, Pak Arief, is well-known in the Malang business community.
He has the influence to persuade potential employers to recruit party members.
19 Istighosah is a communal prayer usually held in special circumstances.
20 Pengajian is a term used to describe Islamic Al-Qur’an study groups, Islamic religious
lectures, or Islamic religious study circles.
21 Personal communication with Partai Golkar cadre, Pak Anto, 5 December 2007.
22 An office administrator explained that pengajian are held monthly at party office
(Interview with Pak Aries, 9 September 2005).
23 The chemical at the heart of these allegations was formalin, normally used to embalm
24 Typically Indonesian street merchants have low incomes and their families survive
from day to day on their earnings.
25 Bakso is a dish of Indonesian meatballs served with tofu and noodles. It is usually
sold door-to-door by street vendors.
26 Tahu (tofu or soya-bean curd) is a staple food in Indonesian households. Street ven-
dors usually serve it fried with petis (shrimp paste) and raw green chili.
27 The event was packaged with a stage and dangdut performance (a form of popular
Indonesian music). Local public figures were also especially invited.
28 This comment was made by Partai Golkar’s kabupaten secretary, Pak Andi, in the in-
terview on 2 February 2006.
29 Regular sporting events include soccer and brisk-walking competitions.
30 The party holds istigotza or communal prayer. Golkar Kodya Malang held events such
as tumpengan (a tumpeng is a cone-shaped yellow rice eaten with meat, fried egg and
other dishes) which is a Javanese thanks-giving tradition.
31 There was an all-night Javanese puppet (wayang kulit) exhibition, as well as stage
32 The party also holds a mass ruwatan free for the public. Ruwatan is a traditional
Javanese ceremony believed to eliminate bad karma and invite good fortune.
33 The office is normally padlocked except when the branch holds activities.
34 The office is located in the middle of the most populated kecamatan (which are also
nearest to Malang city) and the chairperson also frequents the office 3-4 times in a
35 According to the office keeper, cadres visit the office daily to meet colleagues from dif-
ferent kecamatan and at every party visit there are always 4-5 cadres at the office.
36 Interview with Pak Bambang Siswanto, 11 October 2005.
37 Arisan is a rotating credit scheme with a monthly lucky draw, where participants pay
the same amount of money and roll a dice to choose who among them gets the total
amount of money collected. The winner has to repay the amount in the following
months but cannot roll the dice again until everyone else has won.
38 Pak Bambang explained that this is what they hope to achieve eventually with the
arisan rounds.
39 This is an annual Islamic ritual, celebrated as a national holiday in Indonesia, where
wealthier members of the community donate slaughtered cows and goats to the nee-
dy. It is one of Islam’s five duties that are obligatory for those who can afford it.
40 As previously explained, for some of furthest kecamatan from the city of Malang, tra-
velling time to PDIP’s kabupaten office could take over two hours.

41 During one interview with a party cadre, he explained that he usually teams up with
other cadres in his area to provide transportation for others to go to party events. He
would provide the car, while the others chip in for petrol and food expenses.
42 Office keeper Mbak Sum explained that the objective is to serve different kecamatan
every year. She explained that doing more than one kecamatan would be too expensive
for the party’s budget. In this case it was kecamatan Pakisaji (Interview with office
keeper, Mbak Sum, 12 October 2005).
43 The party secretary organises meetings at the kodya level. On several different occa-
sions, the dates and times for regular meetings reported by the secretary were differ-
ent to those reported by office keepers.
44 Interview with kodya office-keepers, 27 September 2005.
45 When asked about other activities held by the party, the office-keepers replied that
there were no others.
46 It was held on the 28 October, 2005.
47 Except when there are meetings or activities in the office, the office is padlocked and
visitors have to go through the back door to look for the office-keepers.
48 Sembako is an abbreviation of sembilan bahan pokok (nine staple ingredients), consist-
ing, amongst others, of rice, oil, salt, sugar and salted fish.
49 When asked about other events to commemorate the party’s anniversary, the office-
keepers said that no others were held.
50 During most of the fieldwork period the staff occupied the fraksi office at the kodya
branch’s assembly office. They only moved to the new office at the end of January
2006. The meeting to appoint new party officers took place at one of the party cadres’
51 Offices are leased on a yearly basis, so unless the lease is renewed, branches are
forced to seek a new office annually.
52 Interview with PAN kodya’s cadres, 7 February 2006.
53 They explained that as soon as they finished daily tasks they went straight to the office
to meet up. Most of the cadres do not have 9-5 jobs, so they have considerable flexibil-
ity in their schedule. They have naps in the office and really make it their home
(Personal observation during visits to PAN’s kodya office, 4-9 February 2006).
54 PAN’s kabupaten chairperson, Pak Widodo, explained that he had to personally drive to
the 33 different kecamatan to deliver the invitations.
55 Like PAN’s kodya branch, the party elected a new chairperson and other office-bearers
during the fieldwork period. The current chairperson, whose house was also the
party’s office, was the branch secretary at the beginning of my fieldwork.
56 Some kecamatan in the kabupaten were flooded during November 2005, including ke-
camatan Sumbermanjing Wetan, which is also one of the furthest from Malang city.
Pak Widodo claimed that he gathered some cadres and visited the flood area during
November 2005 (Interview with Pak Widodo, 7 December 2005).
57 Interview with PKS kodya branch Cadre Section chairperson, Pak Amir, 30 September
58 This was held in September 2005, in Malang’s main bus terminal, Arjosari.
59 Some of the different sections in the party are: seksi ekonomi (economic section), seksi
kewanitaan (women’s section), and seksi kader (cadre section).
60 Personal observation during open house held at Malang’s public library, September
61 During one particular open house a preacher spoke on how to manage money accord-
ing to Islamic law and there was an Islamic book discussion.
62 Pak Amir explained that up to 100 new members signed up during one open house
(Interview with PKS Kodya Malang’s Cadre Section chairperson, Pak Amir, 30
September 2005).

63 Interview with kabupaten chairperson Pak Sophya, 7 October 2005.

64 Interview with Pak Sophya, 7 October 2005.
65 Pramuka stands for Praja Muda Karana (from Sanskrit), the Indonesian term for
66 This event was held on 2 October 2005.
67 Becaks are three-wheeled pedicab taxis used for short-distance destinations in
Indonesian cities.
68 Interview with PKS Kodya Malang’s Cadre Section chairperson Pak Amir, 5 February
69 This event was held at city square (alun-alun Malang) (Interview with PKS kodya branch
Cadre Section chairperson Pak Amir, 30 September 2005).
70 PKS has declared its support for the application of the Rancangan Undang-Undang Anti
Pornografi dan Pornoaksi (proposal for new anti-pornography laws) (Interview with PKS
kodya branch Cadre Section chairperson, Pak Amir, 30 September 2005).
71 Pak Sophya explained that the kodya election was attended by the representatives of
the kecamatan who had previously gathered to elect the provincial leader (Interview
with kabupaten chairperson Pak Sophya, 5 February 2006).
72 The event, called Silaturahmi Tokoh dan Buka Bersama, was held on 16 October 2005.
73 The answer to such questions suggested that the cadres maintain a good image and
close relationship with the people.
74 Islamic law does not allow banks or individuals to make profit that does not adhere to
the principles set out in the Qur’an.
75 Pak Sophya showed me a newspaper article covering PKS cadres handing out food
(Interview with kabupaten chairperson Pak Sophya, 30 September 2005). PKS was also
‘the best organised political organisations in providing relief’ in Aceh after the 2004
tsunami (Aspinall 2005: 28). PKS has also been active in establishing a Jakarta-based
labour NGO known as the Indonesian Labour Foundation (Personal communication
with Michele Ford, 26 July 2007).
76 In issue 19, volume VII, the magazine started with an editorial on Schappelle Corby,
an Australian woman arrested and jailed for bringing cannabis into Bali. The case cre-
ated a controversy because the Australian media portrayed her as innocent.
77 Party leaders claim that the central and provincial offices allow them to make their
own choice of activities. Although they do consult the higher offices, usually the activ-
ities are approved. (Interviews with leaders of PKS, PAN, PDIP and Partai Golkar,
September 2005 to January 2006).
78 Bupati is the administrative head of a kabupaten.
79 A kelurahan is a smaller administration unit, below the kecamatan level.
80 Usually the party has to ask local authorities for permission to hold baksos. Typically
such permission is easy to get as the benefit goes to the community itself.
81 Religious acts have a more altruistic image compared with, for example, sembako dis-
tribution, which could be interpreted as a vote-buying effort.
82 Parties usually increase their visibility during such events by providing banners and
placards featuring their name and/or logo. Also, a mobile event tends to draw more
spectators than a static one.
83 PKS’ leaflets usually include a short explanation of party orientation and objectives. See
Appendices A and B for samples of PKS leaflets.
84 Although PAN claims to prioritise recruitment, its local branches have not organised
any specific recruitment events.
85 This is the case unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as when people
join the party as a job requirement (such as during New Order), or if they join under
the influence of other people (family members or friends).

Chapter 6

1 This observation is taken from a conference which involved representatives of parties

from Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Mongolia, the Philippines, Taiwan and
2 Seyd points to an earlier argument which suggests that the decline in party member-
ship has occurred because ‘individual lifestyles have altered’, and the ‘political market-
place is now full of other organizations competing successfully for individual’s time
and commitment’, and that ‘party leaders have alternative, and more efficient means
of communicating with voters’ (1999: 383).
3 Similar attempts have been made by German and British parties. See Scarrow (1996:
4 Golkar received 62.97 per cent of the votes in the 1971 elections, 62.1 per cent in
1977, 63.9 per cent in 1982, 73.1 per cent in 1987, 68.1 per cent in 1992 and a high
of 74.5 per cent in 1997 (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 389).
5 The outer islands of Indonesia (outside Java) were responsible for more than 25 per
cent of Partai Golkar’s votes in the 1999 and 2004 elections. Interestingly, the Partai
Golkar stronghold areas changed between the two elections (especially in the outer is-
lands) from Sulawesi, Sumatra and Irian Jaya in 1999 to Aceh, Bali, West Sumatra,
Lampung, Central Java and East Kalimantan in 2004. See Suryadinata (2002: 105)
and the KPU (Komisi Pemilihan Umum/Electoral Commission) website (Komisi
Pemilihan Umum 2004).
6 Gus Dur’s party, Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB or National Awakening Party) only re-
ceived 12.6 per cent of the votes in the 1999 election (Suryadinata 2002: 103).
7 Sekber Golkar was initially established to accommodate the various functional groups
not represented in parliament. The army saw this also as another opportunity to curb
the growth of communism in the country (Institut Studi Arus Informasi 1999: 99;
Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 389).
8 The groups of seven KINOs were: Kosgoro cooperatives association, SOKSI (Serikat
Organisasi Karyawan Sosialis Indonesia or Union of Socialist Karyawan
Organisations), MKGR (Musyawarah Kekeluargaan Gotong Royong), Profesi (profes-
sion), Ormas Hankam (consisting of veterans, civilians who were security personnel,
army wives), Gakari (Gabungan Karya Rakyat Indonesia or Grouping of the Karya of
the Indonesian People), Gerakan Pembangunan (Development Movement). For exten-
sive discussion of the KINOs see Reeve (1985: 294-297).
9 There were two main groups within the organisation, the group of Akbar Tandjung
(former Youth and Sport Minister who was a close Suharto ally) and Edi Sudradjat
(former army general). Sudradjat lost and created his own party, Partai Keadilan dan
Persatuan (Unity and Justice Party) (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas
2004: 391).
10 This is one of its efforts to escape from its past practices of collusion and corruption
in cadre and candidate selection (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004:
11 Aside from the stigma of being the government’s political vehicle, the old Golkar was
also accused of being too influenced by the army (ABRI/Angkatan Bersenjata Republik
Indonesia or Indonesian Army) (Institut Studi Arus Informasi 1996).
12 Membership conditions are: the applicant is aged at least 17 or has been married, is
able to read and write, is willing to abide by party regulations and take part in party
activities, and is willing to be screened by the local party office. For details see Partai
Golkar’s AD/ART (Partai Golkar 2005).
13 Personal communication with the kodya and kabupaten offices, 16 September 2008.

14 Interview with kodya chairperson Pak Aries, 9 September 2005. Unsur literally means
15 Interview with kabupaten secretary Pak Andi, 2 February 2006.
16 Interview with kodya chairperson Pak Aries, 9 September 2005.
17 AMPI was particularly active during the reign of Suharto, with an image as the most
important youth wing of Golkar.
18 He holds meetings with these groups at least once a month. Also, he always makes
time for them whenever they want to see him (Interview with kodya chairperson Pak
Aries, 9 September 2005 and personal observation during party visits).
19 Interview with kabupaten secretary Pak Andi, 2 February 2006.
20 This event was held in January 2006.
21 HWK is a women’s organisation, but their husbands, who are usually also Partai
Golkar’s cadres, were also involved at the social event.
22 Rukun Warga is a small administration unit in the local community, which usually
consists of around 15 neighbouring households. Rukun Tetangga is a larger adminis-
tration unit. One Rukun Tetangga consists of several (usually around five) RWs.
23 Members from Kecamatan Ngajum claimed that they went to the pamong desa to reg-
ister as party members (Interview, January 2006).
24 Interviews with Partai Golkar members, January 2006.
25 In its effort to achieve this, the party recruited popular artists in its rallies (Tim
Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas 2004: 367).
26 A statement to this effect was made by a PDIP cadre in the party’s fraction at national
assembly website (Fraksi PDI Perjuangan 2007). Maruarar Sirait’s article is titled
‘Pemuda PDI Perjuangan sebagai Pelopor dalam Mencapai Cita-cita Proklamasi
Kemerdekaan Agustus ’45’ (‘PDI Youth Strugglers as Pioneers in Achieving the 1945
Proclamation of Independence’s Aims’).
27 One of the duties of members is ‘menjaring dan menyaring sekurang-kurangnya satu ca-
lon anggota baru’ (attract and screen at least one potential new member). See PDIP’s
AD/ART (PDI Perjuangan 2005: 58).
28 The other conditions are quite general, such as the applicant has to be at least 17 years
old or is married, must be willing to abide by party rules and willing to take part in
party activities.
29 Applicants who wish to be members must write an official letter requesting to become
a member of the local party office (at the kecamatan level). The relevant party office
has to make sure that the applicant has met all requirements and it has the right to
reject applications. For details please see PDIP’s AD/ART (PDI Perjuangan 2005).
30 Interview, 11 October 2005.
31 Pak Bambang said, ‘often when we helped like that, during the elections they will re-
member, “oh, right, back then PDIP helped fix the bridge”’ (Interview with kabupaten
secretary Pak Bambang Siswanto, 11 October 2005).
32 Pak Bambang stopped short of specifying how the party could improve its recruitment
tactic (Interview with kabupaten secretary Pak Bambang Siswanto, 11 October 2005).
33 Personal communication with PDIP cadre, 19 September 2008.
34 Interviews with party members, October 2005-January 2006.
35 Pak Bambang specifically pointed to the fact that party activists receive no salary from
the party, and that is specific proof of ‘kekuatan ideologi partai’ (the strength of the
party’s ideology) (Interview with kabupaten secretary Pak Bambang Siswanto, 11
October 2005).
36 Observers of Indonesian politics have criticised PDIP of not being consistent in priori-
tising the ‘little people’, as Megawati’s government produced no particular policies ad-
dressing this large section of Indonesian community. The party’s claims of

nationalism also came under fire as under Megawati’s presidency there were sales of
national assets. For details, please see CSIS (2005).
37 When asked, PDIP members stated that there were no special requirements for regis-
tration (Interviews with members, October 2005-January 2006).
38 Mabita is a party socialisation programme, aimed at improving knowledge of the party
and organisation skills of members (Interview with kabupaten chairperson Pak
Widodo, 7 December 2005).
39 Muhammadiyah is a socio-religious organisation, established in 1912 in Yogyakarta,
which aims to adapt Islam to modern Indonesian life. It claims to have around 40
million members.
40 PAN realises that members’ contributions are vital for the party’s operation. PAN re-
quires its election candidates to pay Rp 3 million for administration costs and make a
Rp 5 million contribution to the campaign fund (Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan
Kompas 2004: 231).
41 The pluralist ideology was one of the motivations for establishing the party: to accom-
modate the socially and ethnically diverse groups in Indonesia. See Aliansi Bhinneka
Tunggal Ika’s website (2007).
42 Interview, 7 December 2005.
43 Monthly dues were no longer imposed due to the prevailing difficult economic condi-
tions in Indonesia. In the case of kodya Malang, dues are no longer required at all
(Interview with PAN members, January 2006).
44 Interviews with Pak Widodo and kodya cadres, 18 September 2008.
45 Literally ‘branch’, ranting is party branch at kecamatan (sub-district) level.
46 Interview with PAN cadres, 7 February 2006.
47 DPD is the party’s office at kotamadya/kabupaten level.
48 Interview with kodya branch Cadre Section’s chairperson Pak Amir, 30 September
49 The flyers and leaflets distributed by PKS have contact details of cadres to contact for
each kecamatan. See Appendix B.
50 Personal communication with PKS cadres, 15-17 September 2008.
51 Interview with Pak Sophya, 1 October 2005.
52 Interview with Pak Sophya, 1 October 2005.
53 Because of loyalty of adhering to party ideology in its activities and operation, obser-
vers have named PKS as the only Indonesian party with clear ideology (CSIS: 2005).
54 Amanah means trustworthy and responsible according to Islamic norms.
55 Interview with Pak Sophya, 1 October 2005.
56 Interview with party cadres, 16 October 2005.
57 The chairperson of PAN Kabupaten Malang admitted that PKS has swayed PAN’s mem-
bers towards their party.
58 During New Order, government officials were automatically made members of
Golkar. Golkar also enlarged the range of its cadres by enforcing the concept of karya-
wan, previously only for civil servants but in the 1980s it was extended to workers
(buruh). See Reeve (1990: 167-168).
59 It must be noted here that PDIP also has sub-organisations, but their role in local re-
cruitment was not acknowledged in the interviews, suggesting that their functions
were different from Partai Golkar’s.
60 The party has a new paradigm and slogan: Bersama Kita Maju (Together We Progress)
61 Interview with members, October 2005.
62 Interviews with members, January 2006.
63 Interviews with members, October 2005-January 2006.

Chapter 7

1 Other motivations such as influence of family and friends, or material benefits, could
act as strong motivators in other instances, but they are ‘less socially acceptable’
(Heidar 2006: 305).
2 Other reasons mentioned are: support for the party, specific party policies and party
leader (Pedersen et al. 2004: 369).
3 The rise of the Internet also created visiting the party website as another form of
member involvement (Heidar, cited in Katz & Crotty 2006: 306-307).
4 Janda defined membership requirements as ‘criteria that the party imposes on an in-
dividual who wishes to participate officially in the party’s activities’. Requirements
vary among parties, from the mere need of ‘individuals to profess support of the party
to attend its local meetings’ to more costly/severe requirements that the individual is
admitted initially only as a provisional member for a trial period (communist parties
usually apply this policy). Merely signing a membership card is judged to be the least
costly requirement. It is more costly to pay dues and still more costly to go through a
probationary period before achieving membership. Any party that imposes a proba-
tionary period for membership probably requires dues and payment of dues requires
registered membership (Janda 1980: 126).
5 ‘Supporters’ are people who agree with party doctrines, but remain outside the organi-
sation, while ‘militants’ are regularly involved in party meetings, campaigns and activ-
ities (Duverger 1964: 61, 110).
6 Janda compared Barnes’ classification with other similar ones from Duverger &
Milbrath (1980: 127).
7 Steinberg and Myung Shin note that other prerequisites of a democracy have devel-
oped better, such as free elections, a free press and a lively civil society (2006: 521-
8 See for example Burrell (1986) and Cross & Young (2004).
9 Prasad groups activities such as educating the voters, explaining party manifesto,
holding mass meetings, making speeches, distributing posters, pamphlets and leaflets
as propaganda and campaign work. The second group includes: providing transporta-
tion, establishing personal contacts with influential people, visiting villages, wards
and houses to mobilise voters (1983: 110).
10 Interview with party member Moh. Soleh, 10 January 2006.
11 Observers have compared Partai Golkar with parties that have a stronger ideological
base, such as PDIP and PAN. In the absence of an attractive platform, Partai Golkar can-
not compete with other more ideologically-driven parties on ideological grounds. See
‘Multiple Sclerosis di tubuh Golkar’ (Kompas, 13 Desember 2004).
12 Although there are other members who simply responded ‘I don’t know’, other mem-
bers rightly pointed out that they must ‘maintain the party’s reputation’ and that they
can ‘achieve a certain position in the party as well as in government’, statements in-
cluded in the party’s AD/ART (Interview with members, January-February 2006).
13 The AD/ART specified no sanction for failure to participate in party activities, although
it is one of the member’s duties (Partai Golkar 2005).
14 At times they are in charge of transportation, documentation, etc. (Interviews with
party members, January-February 2006).
15 Personal observation, January-February 2006.
16 Partai Golkar kodya and kabupaten members are said to be in the thousands
(Interview with kodya chairperson Pak Aries, 9 September 2005), but attendance at
party events was in the hundreds at the maximum (Personal observation, September
2005-January 2006).

17 Kodya meetings are usually attended by around 70 participants, mostly cadres repre-
senting different kecamatan. The same participants attend other party activities, along
with public members and invitees (Personal observation, September-November 2005).
18 Members acknowledged that they need to be involved in party activities to get noticed
by party leaders and other members (Interviews with party members, January-
February 2006).
19 Interview with party members, January-February 2006. One party leader also had a si-
milar conviction that in order to be chosen as a candidate during elections he must
lobby and convince other cadres and members of his rights and qualification to be
promoted, so that the others support him (Interview with party leader from kecamatan
Ngajum Pak Bambang, 3 February 2006).
20 Interview with kodya chairperson Pak Aries, 9 September 2005.
21 This notion was expressed by Pak Aries himself when he mentioned that the current
database on membership was due for an update, whereby the members have to be in-
dividually contacted and asked about the continuance of their membership (Interview,
9 September 2005).
22 Interview with kodya chairperson Pak Aries and kabupaten secretary, 9 September
2005 and 2 February 2006.
23 When asked about what party activities that they knew of, they explained that the party
holds regular activities like meetings as well as the various events such as cattle distri-
bution (in the kabupaten) and pengajian (in the kodya office), as well as regular party
bhakti sosial.
24 Pak Andi explained that his cadres had to travel for hours to get to his house and he
did not have the heart to ask them to leave without giving them something.
Fortunately for him, his wife was very understanding of this situation (Interview with
kodya secretary Pak Andi, 2 February 2006).
25 As a consequence, party meetings always took place during night time, after normal
office hours (Interview with kabupaten administrator Mbak Yuni, 21 January 2006).
26 Pak Andi was a lawyer, so he could only be in his Golkar Kabupaten office after his
work commitments were done. The same case was shown by Pak Aries, the kodya
chairperson, who only attended his Golkar office once his business commitments
were done for the day.
27 When asked whether they were happy with how the party works, members and cadres
claimed that they were satisfied (Interviews with party members and cadres, January-
February 2006).
28 Interviews with members and cadres, September-October 2005.
29 ProMeg stands for pro Megawati, a slogan of Megawati supporters during the govern-
ment’s effort to topple her leadership in 1996-1997 (Interviews with party members
and cadres, September-October 2005).
30 Interviews with local leaders and cadres revealed their pride on the fame of Bung
Karno and Mega, and their beliefs of the strength of these individuals to attract sup-
port (Interviews with party leaders and cadres, September-October 2005).
31 One cadre, Didit Eko, claimed that he joined the party because he wanted to create
programmes to improve the livelihood of common people (Interview, October 2005).
32 Scholars have noted the resemblance of this ideology to Marxism. Reeve noted that
Marhaenism is Marxism ‘adjusted to Indonesian reality’. For a full discussion of
Marxism please see Reeve (1985: 29-29).
33 PDIP’s AD/ART regulates that members must have a written statement to confirm their
willingness and commitment to be members (PDI Perjuangan 2005: 28).
34 When asked what their rights and duties are, PDIP members gave vague answers such
as: ‘to enlarge the party’, ‘getting legal assistance’ and ‘to be present during meetings

to know better what party programmes are’ (Interviews with members, September-
October 2005).
35 Only one leader from kecamatan Lowokwaru said that there was a specific cadre pro-
gramme (Interview with cadres, September-October 2005).
36 Requirements on specific trainings are regulated by PDIP’s AD/ART (PDI Perjuangan
2005: 51, 53).
37 Members’ answers included statements that ‘essentially [one] must be active in the
party’, ‘one must go to grass-roots level’, ‘one must understand what people want’ and
even simply, ‘I don’t know’ (Interviews with members, September-October 2005).
38 For example, one cadre actually answered that such procedures are regulated in party
AD/ART, but he was not familiar with them (Interview with cadres, September-October
39 As mentioned in Chapter Four, the kodya office has developed a membership data-
base, and the kabupaten office has a membership book. Although kodya office-keepers
claimed that the database was updated regularly, the frequency of the updates seemed
rather inadequate. For instance the database that was presented for this study indi-
cated that when members passed away, their names were not deleted and they were
simply marked accordingly. Furthermore, there was no checking process on existing
members to see whether they were still members; so possibilities that members had
left the party could not be verified. Similar problems happened also with the kabupa-
ten members’ book.
40 PDIP scrapped member dues as a gesture to ease the financial burdens of members in
difficult economic times (Interviews with party members, September-October 2005).
41 Interviews with party leaders, September-October 2005.
42 The blood donation event ran for the whole day but participants were from the party’s
own cadres and members only.
43 He visits the kabupaten office whenever his schedule allows him to, which is roughly
3-4 times per week.
44 PDIP’s AD/ART gives the right for the party to expel members from the party for serious
violations, but failure to participate in party activities is not one of them. See PDIP’s
AD/ART (PDI Perjuangan 2005).
45 Examples of answers included being ‘disappointed with other parties (kecewa dengan
partai lain)’ and ‘because I am a member of Muhammadiyah (karena saya anggota
Muhammadiyah)’ (Interviews with party members, January-February 2005).
46 PAN’s AD/ART clearly regulates potential members to write a request letter to apply to be-
come members, which the party will consider and issue membership cards upon ap-
proval. See PAN’s AD/ART (DPD PAN Kabupaten Blitar 2005: 15).
47 During the process of finding a new office, the kodya office lost most of its documents
(Interview with party cadres, February 2006).
48 For example, Partai Golkar’s members proudly flashed their membership cards when
asked about their contact details.
49 Duverger argued that a cadre party does not necessarily have to give out membership
cards to members (1954: 71-73), but interview data from other parties in the Malang
area suggests that they are an important symbol of affiliation in the Indonesian
50 Interviews with Pak Widodo and members, 7 December 2005 and January-February
51 PAN’s AD/ART clearly states dues as one of the member’s duties (DPD PAN Kabupaten
Blitar 2005: 15).
52 Pembekalan means to bring supplies (usually food) for a long journey.
53 This training is not mandated by party regulations – PAN’s AD/ART does not make any
reference to training (DPD PAN Kabupaten Blitar 2005: 15).

54 The kabupaten chairperson has his personal business and the kodya cadres have var-
ious occupations such as teachers and public servants.
55 Interviews with members revealed that some of them had been members of PAN.
Other members did not name their previous party affiliation, although indicated that
they joined another party before (Interviews with party cadres, October-November
56 PKS cadres claimed that the young polite cadres were impressive in drawing sympathy
(Interviews with cadres, September-October 2005).
57 According to PKS’ AD/ART, majelis syuro is the highest council in the party with the
authority to establish the party’s vision and mission, regulations and recommenda-
tions at the national level, as well as appointing the party’s national leader and other
strategic decisions. See PKS’ AD/ART (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
58 PKS’ AD/ART regulates that the sources of the party’s finances are: iuran rutin anggota
(members’ dues), sumbangan (donations) and hibah (transfer of wealth) from mem-
bers and supporters (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
59 Pak Sophya argues that this method has been effective in persuading members to pay
(Interview with kabupaten chairperson Pak Sophya, 7 October 2005).
60 Sodaqoh is a form of voluntary monetary contribution, usually for the poor.
61 There are conflicting regulations in the party’s AD/ART. While at jenis dan jenjang keang-
gotaan (type and level of membership) it is explained that all levels of cadres have to
undergo training, the section on keanggotaan (membership) explained that anggota ka-
der pendukung (supporting cadre) are those who actively support every party activity –
with no mention of a training requirement (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
62 Ford & Tjandra (2007) have found that PKS’ labour NGO, the Indonesian Labour
Foundation, also uses this technique for educating factory workers about their labour
63 Cadres claim that it is the party activity that they are most active in, as it is held
weekly in all kecamatan (Interviews with cadres, September-October 2005).
64 Some of the trainings mentioned by cadres were how to make coconut-based food
products and finance management for mosques (Interviews with cadres, September-
October 2005).
65 Zakat is Muslims’ obligatory contribution to be made to the poor.
66 The leader from kecamatan Kepanjen indicated that he had approached local Remaja
Masjid (Mosque Youth) groups (Interview with Pak Pribadi Luhur, 20 October 2005).
67 It must be noted that PAN does have this same priority, but its application is seriously
disrupted by local organisational failure in Malang.
68 Janda’s argument is applicable to the local level because it also refers to candidates.
Parties’ local leaders are often nominated as candidates in local elections. For in-
stance, Partai Golkar’s kabupaten chairperson is Malang’s bupati (district head), and
PDIP’s kodya chairperson is Malang’s walikota (mayor).
69 Some members claim that there was no specific requirement, others said they had to
produce identification (Interviews with members, September-October 2005).
70 See AD/ART of the four parties. Data on the decisions and reasons for cancelling mem-
bers’ dues is drawn from interviews with party leaders (September 2005-February

Chapter 8

1 Having said this, he argued that parties have to ‘take the greatest care to provide
themselves with leadership that is democratic in appearance’ (Duverger 1964: 134).

2 As discussed in Chapter Two, the musyawarah concept was based on Sukarno’s oppo-
sition towards Western democracy, where ‘fifty per cent plus one’ represents a victory.
As a replacement, Sukarno proposed discussion and deliberation to reach consensus
(musyarawah untuk mufakat) to formulate the best decision (Feith & Castles 1970: 9,
3 Norris argues that although sociability serves as a less important incentive that can be
met by other social groups. See Norris (1995: 31).
4 The larger body, the Directorate, has a subgroup of 15 members that meets daily to
make quick decisions, which still have to be approved by the Directorate as a whole
(The Sejong Institute 2000: 3).
5 Thailand’s Democrat Party moved the decision-making power to a smaller group with-
in the previously responsible body, while the New Aspiration Party gave the power to
a larger newly-assembled body (The Sejong Institute 2000: 3).
6 Heidar & Saglie note that membership ballots on policy and personnel questions have
been implemented in other European parties (2003: 228).
7 Preferential voting happens when ‘voters (not members) choose the individuals who
represent their party in parliament’ (Heidar & Saglie 2003: 229).
8 When asked what they wanted to do beyond serving as leaders and whether they
wished to enter the government, the answers suggest that they would stay in the party,
develop the party and hoped that the party would win the election again (Interviews
with cadres and leaders, January-February 2006).
9 Interviews with cadres and leaders, January-February 2006.
10 When asked what they thought they should do to advance their careers in the party,
cadres and leaders identified excelling in party activities as one essential condition
(Interviews with cadres and leaders, January-February 2006).
11 G30S/PKI is an abbreviation for Gerakan 30 September-Partai Komunis Indonesia – an
alleged coup by the Indonesian Communist Party which created fear of communism
in Indonesia and rejection of any association with such a movement.
12 When asked about what could make them switch to another party, some members
claimed that they would do so if the party’s national leadership changed (Interviews
with members, September-October 2005).
13 Interview with leader from kecamatan Jabung, Pak Winarto, 10 October 2005.
14 The AD/ART document was published by DPP Kabupaten Blitar based on the party’s na-
tional convention held there.
15 The word used by the AD/ART is actually ‘melunasi kewajiban kontribusi’ or (having)
fully-paid contribution duties referring to financial contribution as suggested by kodya
16 Personal communication with kabupaten chairperson, Pak Widodo, 17 December
17 Specific regulations on which office should issue membership cards are available on
PKS’ website (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
18 In the party constitution, fair treatment is defined as ‘protection against any form of
injustice treatment caused by their participation and or comments/input they make
during meetings, or when they are implementing or conducting the will of the party’
(Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 2006).
19 The higher the office, the higher the level of membership (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera
20 One example is that leader election at provincial level begins with the kodya and kabu-
paten internal election to have one vote to be entered at the provincial level.
21 A similar policy has since been adopted by PAN.
22 Except for PKS where all members are referred to as cadres.

Chapter 9

1 Possible explanations for the superiority of Partai Golkar and PKS include the influence
of Partai Golkar’s long established patronage network and PKS’ Muslim brotherhood-
derived ideology. PDIP’s and PAN’s lack of commitment and skills, demonstrated in this
study, appear to be derived from over-reliance on charisma and personalism. An addi-
tional cause of PAN’s problems is its lack of resources, mainly funding. However, an
extensive investigation to examine these issues is beyond the scope of this study.
2 In this regard, the current parties show similar attributes to the parties of the
Sukarno period, where local leaders were the determining factor in the respective of-
fice’s level of organisation – as shown by Liddle’s research (1970).
3 See Mietzner (2007, 2008) for a detailed discussion of party funding.
4 See Chapters Two and Three for a discussion of party funding matters.
5 While the Old Order parties were free to recruit, they focused heavily on boosting
membership numbers for elections. As noted in Chapter Three, New Order parties
had very limited freedom in grass-roots recruitment.
6 An example of this argument is PAN, which despite declaring itself as an open party,
cannot escape a close association with Muhammadiyah in attracting members.
Chapter Seven provides a full discussion on PAN members’ motivation to join the
party. Chapters Five, Six and Seven provide a full discussion on the role of ideologies
for the four parties.
7 For further discussion on this matter see for example Centre for Strategic and
International Studies (2005) and Choi (2007).
8 Since its establishment PAN has suffered from splits between its main party leaders.
See Sugiarto (2006: 10).
9 See Chapter Two for a full discussion on PNI’s organisation.
10 See Suryadinata (2002) for a comparison of the parties competing in the 1955 and
1999 elections.
11 In another article, Hadiz pointed out that money politics is deeply engrained in
Indonesian politics and within party structures (2004b: 618).
12 Mietzner, ‘Chaos and Consolidation’, Inside Indonesia 97, Jul-Sep 2009. Although in
the 2004 election the Democrat Party only managed to get around 7 per cent of the
votes, it was successful in catapulting SBY into presidency. In the 2009 election, the
party had almost tripled its votes. The party’s success is the first, as the winners of
1999 and 2004 (Partai Golkar and PDIP, respectively) failed to repeat their wins in the
subsequent elections.
13 In a survey done by Lembaga Survey Indonesia (LSI, Indonesian Survey Institution)
after the 2009 elections, 65 per cent of respondents expressed their satisfaction of the
implementation of democracy, and 78 per cent of respondents agreed that democracy
is the best political system for Indonesia (LSI: Kualitas Pelaksanaan Pemilu dan
Konsolidasi Demokrasi, 2009).
14 The author spoke with a voter who claimed that her whole village was given 2 kilograms
of rice and were transported to the polls on the election day by Prabowo’s people.
15 One LSI study has identified Gerindra as the party with the television advertisement
that 51 per cent of respondents remembered, with PS having 42 per cent, Partai
Golkar having 31 per cent and Hanura having 22.6 per cent. See LSI, ‘“Silent
Revolution”: Kampanye, Kompetisi Caleg, dan Kekuatan Partai Menjelang Pemilu
2009’ (Jakarta: LSI 2008), in
16 Indonesian election law only allows for individuals that have party affiliation to run
for presidency.

17 Mietzner noted that one of the parties that was the most aggressive in recruiting ce-
lebrities and public figures was PAN, who listed 19 out of a total of 45 celebrities. In
the end only two of these personalities were elected (Mietzner 2009).
18 For a detailed discussion on the national leadership problems, please see Tandjung,
The Golkar Way: Survival Partai Golkar di Tengah Turbulensi Politik Era Transisi (The
Golkar Way: Golkar Party’s Survival in the Middle of Transition Era’s Political Turbulence)
(Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2007), pp. 118-26.
19 PS leads with 28 per cent respondents identifying it as the one with the best pro-
grammes, with Partai Golkar and PDIP trailing with 10 and 11 per cent respectively. PS
also convinced 28 per cent of respondents as being the most caring for the people,
and PDIP and Partai Golkar scored 12 and 10 per cent. In terms of party image, 27 per
cent of respondents rated PD highly, while PDIP had 10 per cent and Partai Golkar 8
per cent. See LSI, Efek Calon terhadap Suara Partai Menjelang Pemilu 2009: Trend Opini
Publik – Updated 8-18 Februari 2009 (Jakarta: LSI, 2009), pp. 37-38.
20 Ibid., p. 1.
21 The LSI survey suggested that president SBY had an overwhelming lead against other
presidential candidates since 2006 and this correlates quite closely with the choice to-
wards his party, PD. For details please see LSI, Efek Calon terhadap Perolehan Suara
Partai Pemilu 2009, op cit., pp. 40-54.
22 PKB also had a similar percentage as Partai Golkar. See LSI, Kecenderungan Swing Voter
Menjelang Pemilu Legislatif 2009: Trend Opini Publik (Jakarta: LSI, 2008).
23 PD gathered 7.45 per cent in 2004 and 20.85 per cent in 2009 (KPU 2009).
24 Lembaga Survei Indonesia, Efek Calon Terhadap Perolehan Suara Partai Menjelang
Pemilu 2009: Trend Opini Publik, Updated 8-18 Februari 2009 (Jakarta: LSI, 2009), p. 17.
25 Ibid. The same survey indicated that preference towards PKS and PAN were hovering
around the percentage that they ended up getting, at 6 and 3-4 per cent respectively.
26 Law No. 32/2004 Article 59 stipulated that only political parties or party coalitions
holding at least 15 per cent of seats in local assemblies are eligible to nominate candi-
dates for governors or mayors/regents (Choi 2004: 331).
27 For instance, the Partai Golkar-PKS alliance in Riau’s gubernatorial election (2005),
Partai Golkar-PDIP in Banten (2006), Sragen (2002), Kabupaten Malang (2005). Co-
operation between Partai Golkar and PKS is seen as unusual since PKS is a stern anti-
corruption promoter while Partai Golkar has a heavily corrupt New Order past. The al-
liance between Partai Golkar and PDIP is also perceived as unusual given the history of
the two parties (see Chapter Three).
28 Mietzner (2007: 251-252) noted that for his gubernatorial candidacy in Jakarta, Adang
Daradjatun allegedly paid Rp. 14-150 billion to the PKS.
29 Only political parties or party coalitions holding at least 15 per cent of seats in local as-
semblies are eligible to nominate candidates for governors or mayors/regents (Article
59 of Law No. 32/2004 on regional administration).

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Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Demos: Lembaga Kajian Demokrasi dan Hak Asasi (2005) Partai Politik Pasca-Orde Baru.
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‘floating mass’ 13, 192 204-206, 215-220, 222-229, 231-

1945 independence 13, 15, 25-28, 34, 232
36, 42, 52, 60, 190, 201, 215, 217, grass-roots membership 18, 65, 120
224 Guided Democracy 13, 25, 27, 50-51,
administrative set-ups 14 53, 55
Amien Rais 22, 72, 127, 134, 153, Hatta 26
160, 193 ideology 16, 29, 31, 34, 37, 40, 44-
cadre parties 19, 117, 217 45, 52, 57-58, 60, 62-63, 68, 91,
charisma 14, 40-41, 43, 58, 65, 119, 96, 99, 102, 126-127, 130, 140, 145,
124, 126-127, 133-134, 136, 152, 160, 149, 160, 170, 174, 184, 209, 215,
191-193, 195, 197-199, 202-203, 219, 224-225, 227, 231
205-206, 231 incumbent parties 17-18, 80, 113-
democratic institutions 17 114, 120, 125, 132-134, 160, 169,
democratic transitions 17, 200 182, 184, 189, 194
democratisation 13, 17, 20, 97, 192, Indische Sociaal-Democratische
200 Vereniging, or ISDV 25, 29
Demokrasi Terpimpin 25; see also institutionalisation 20, 53, 76, 93,
Guided Democracy 109, 113-114, 119, 122, 131-132, 134-
donations for parties 19, 59, 80, 82- 135, 140, 143, 161, 167, 183, 185-186,
83, 85-86, 92-93, 127, 189, 229 191-195, 197-198, 203, 207-209
elections 14-17, 19, 21-22, 27, 31-32, legacy parties 14, 18, 21, 202
35, 38, 43, 48, 55-56, 60-61, 63, 65- local branches 13-14, 18, 20, 28-29,
66, 69-70, 72-73, 76, 84, 95-96, 33, 39, 48-50, 64, 68, 72, 75, 77,
98, 102, 105-106, 108, 117, 120-121, 80-81, 83, 85, 91, 94-97, 109, 113-
126-127, 131, 133, 135-136, 139, 141, 114, 120, 122, 125-128, 131-132, 134,
143, 153, 159, 165-170, 172, 176, 178, 136, 147, 150, 153-154, 156, 160,
180-183, 187, 191, 193, 196, 199, 164, 168, 171-172, 174, 177-179, 182,
202-209, 219, 223-224, 226, 229, 185, 187-192, 195-196, 198-199,
231 206-208, 222
Golkar 13, 21-22, 52, 55-64, 66-69, Majelis Syura Muslimin
71-73, 80-86, 90-95, 98-102, 104, Indonesia 27
109-114, 120-123, 125, 132-136, 144- mass movement 25
148, 152, 158-164, 168-177, 182-187, mass parties 19, 117, 217
189-191, 193, 195-196, 200-202, money politics 14, 20, 175, 195-196,
201, 203, 206-207, 231

Muhammadiyah 25, 69, 72, 127, party ideologies 25, 27, 32, 39, 95-
134, 153, 225, 228, 231 96, 98, 192-193, 207, 209, 219, 231
Nahdatul Ulama 25, 27, 51 party image 19, 98, 130, 160, 232
nationalism 27 party management 13, 17, 19-21, 23,
New Order 13-14, 16, 20, 25, 55-61, 28-29, 31, 33-35, 42, 45, 47-50, 56,
63-65, 67-69, 71-73, 76, 79, 81, 84, 69-70, 75-76, 79, 81, 83, 88, 99,
98-99, 102, 109, 111, 114-115, 121- 104, 106, 110, 113-114, 120, 132, 135,
122, 131-132, 136, 144-145, 181, 187- 139, 153-154, 159, 165, 168, 174-175,
189, 192, 194-196, 201-203, 215, 177-178, 181-188, 195-200, 202,
222, 225, 231-232 204, 209, 229
organisational capacity 13, 190, 206 party membership fees 19, 33
PAN see Partai Amanat Nasional 21 party memberships 19-20, 29, 40,
Partai Amanat Nasional 21, 72, 80, 81, 118, 120, 139, 147, 163-164, 166
85, 95, 104, 120, 126, 144, 153, 175, party mobilisation 28, 37-39, 59, 65,
198 76
Partai Demokrasi Indonesia party operations 19-21, 31-32, 34-35,
Perjuangan 21, 80, 83, 95, 102, 39, 49, 53, 55-56, 66, 68, 79-81, 85-
120, 124, 144, 149, 172, 197 86, 93-94, 98, 121, 141, 143, 157,
Partai Demokrat 22, 73, 196, 203, 159-160, 180, 189, 191-192, 198,
205, 217 201, 208
Partai Indonesia Raya 27 party or branch administration 20-
Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 21, 72, 80, 21, 34-35, 43, 46, 49, 55, 76, 78-91,
87, 95, 98, 106, 120, 129, 144, 155- 93, 105, 120, 127, 133, 182, 186,
157, 178, 180-181, 199, 229-230 188, 196, 200-201, 216, 222, 224-
Partai Komunis Indonesia 25, 27, 225, 232
29-31, 40, 45-46, 48, 215, 230 party organisation 19-21, 23, 28, 30,
Partai Nasional Indonesia 26-27, 37, 49, 56, 73, 75-76, 78-79, 81, 90-95,
72 97, 109-110, 118, 132, 134-136, 139-
Partai Sosialis Indonesia 27 140, 142-143, 149, 159, 167, 184-
party activities 14, 17, 19-20, 22-23, 185, 188, 199, 205, 207
27-28, 34, 36-41, 45, 56-65, 67-68, party organisations 13, 20, 23, 25-
76-79, 81-84, 86-88, 90, 92-114, 29, 33-36, 38-39, 41-49, 51-52, 55-57,
120, 122-123, 128-129, 131, 133-135, 59-60, 62-65, 68-69, 71, 75-76, 79,
139-149, 151-155, 157-159, 163-164, 81, 89, 96, 101, 108, 111-112, 114,
169-170, 173-175, 177-178, 180, 184- 117, 121-124, 132-135, 137, 144-145,
185, 187, 189-190, 193, 195-201, 148, 160, 163, 165, 167, 171, 177,
205, 207, 216-218, 220-228, 230 186-188, 193, 196, 200, 202, 207-
party capacity 19-20, 27, 33, 37-38, 208, 222
42, 47, 49, 65, 67-68, 78, 80, 93, party platforms 19, 26-27, 29, 36,
95, 98, 109, 122, 127, 133, 144, 157, 38-41, 50, 97-98, 112-114, 119, 133,
167, 169, 183, 186-187, 191-192, 136, 142-143, 149, 160, 187, 191-193
195-196, 198, 206-207, 209, 216 party professionalism 19, 78, 80,
party identification 16, 136 90, 94, 197, 199

party services 19, 55, 98-100, 102- 189, 191, 200-203, 206, 209, 215,
103, 110-111 232
party system 13, 15, 56, 118, 206 recruitment 15-16, 18-20, 23, 32, 39-
patronage 14, 41, 46, 66, 68, 132, 44, 46, 56, 64-66, 70, 77, 79, 83,
140, 161, 189, 193, 198, 203, 206, 100, 102-103, 105-108, 110, 112-113,
231 115, 117-129, 131-137, 143, 145, 147,
PD see Partai Demokrat 22 150, 153-155, 157-160, 163, 172, 177,
PDIP see Partai Demokrasi Indonesia 189, 191-192, 199, 201, 204, 209,
Perjuangan 21 218-219, 222, 224-225, 231
Persatuan Indonesia Raya 27 Sarekat Islam 25, 27
personalism 20, 141-143, 149, 160, socialism 27, 32
208, 231 Suharto 13, 16, 20, 27, 53, 55-60, 63,
PKI see Partai Komunis Indonesia 25 69, 71, 73, 75, 99-100, 121, 133, 145,
PKS see Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 21 160, 189, 191-193, 195-196, 203-
PNI see Partai Nasional Indonesia 26 204, 216, 223-224
political participation 13-15, 20-21, Sukarno 13, 25-27, 31, 41, 44, 50-51,
25, 27, 43, 45, 51, 57-58, 64, 73, 75, 53, 55, 58, 62, 65, 70, 103, 124, 126,
97, 111, 118, 144, 187, 192, 194, 149, 166, 191, 193, 207, 215, 230-
200, 202 231
political parties 13-17, 20, 25-29, 35, transition 14, 17-18, 20-21, 25, 79,
55-58, 66, 72-73, 75, 78-79, 84, 95- 97, 131, 143, 181, 194, 200-203, 207
96, 102, 109, 117-119, 139, 143, 167,
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Politics of Representation
Monographs 10, 2013 (ISBN 978 90 8964 477 0)

Duncan McDuie-Ra: Northeast Migrants in Delhi. Race, Refuge and Retail

Monographs 9, 2012 (ISBN 978 90 8964 422 0)

Eka Srimulyani: Women from Traditional Islamic Educational Institutions

in Indonesia. Negotiating Public Spaces
Monographs 8, 2012 (ISBN 978 90 8964 421 3)

Kah Seng Loh, Edgar Liao, Cheng Tju Lim and Guo-Quan Seng: The
University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya. Tangled Strands of
Monographs 7, 2012 (ISBN 978 90 8964 409 1)

Olena Mykal: The EU-Japan Security Dialogue. Invisible but

Monographs 6, 2011 (ISBN 978 90 8964 163 2)

Chaiyakorn Kiatpongsan: The EU-Thailand Relations. Tracing the Patterns

of New Bilateralism
Monographs 5, 2011 (ISBN 978 90 8964 164 9)

Rituparna Roy: South Asian Partition Fiction in English. From Khushwant

Singh to Amitav Ghosh
Monographs 4, 2010 (ISBN 978 90 8964 245 5)

Jeroen de Kloet: China with a Cut. Globalisation, Urban Youth and

Popular Music
Monographs 3, 2010 (ISBN 978 90 8964 162 5)
Masae Kato: Women’s Rights? The Politics of Eugenic Abortion in Modern
Monographs 2, 2009 (ISBN 978 90 5356 793 7)

Alex McKay: Their Footprints Remain. Biomedical Beginnings Across the

Indo-Tibetan Frontier
Monographs 1, 2007 (ISBN 978 90 5356 518 6)

Edited Volumes

Barak Kalir and Malini Sur (eds.): Transnational Flows and Permissive
Polities. Ethnographies of Human Mobilities in Asia
Edited Volumes 7, 2012 (ISBN 978 90 8964 408 4)

Gregory Bracken (ed.): Aspects of Urbanization in China. Shanghai, Hong

Kong, Guangzhou
Edited Volumes 6, 2012 (ISBN 978 90 8964 398 8)

Dipika Mukherjee and Maya Khemlani David (eds.): National Language

Planning and Language Shifts in Malaysian Minority Communities
Edited Volumes 5, 2011 (ISBN 978 90 8964 271 4)

Birgit Abels (ed.): Austronesian Soundscapes. Performing Arts in Oceania

and Southeast Asia
Edited Volumes 4, 2011 (ISBN 978 90 8964 085 7)

Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner (ed.): Frameworks of Choice. Predictive and

Genetic Testing in Asia
Edited Volumes 3, 2010 (ISBN 978 90 8964 165 6)

Wen-Shan Yang and Melody Chia-Wen Lu (eds.): Asian Cross-border

Marriage Migration. Demographic Patterns and Social Issues
Edited Volumes 2, 2010 (ISBN 978 90 8964 054 3)

Gijsbert Oonk (ed.): Global Indian Diasporas. Exploring Trajectories of

Migration and Theory
Edited Volumes 1, 2007 (ISBN 978 90 5356 035 8)
p u b li cat i o n s se r ie s
Monographs 11

The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian

Indonesia: From the Grass-roots Up provides detailed examination of
how much the local party branches of Partai Golkar, Partai Demokrasi
Indonesia Perjuangan, Partai Amanat Nasional, and Partai Keadilan
Sejahtera in Malang (East Java) have institutionalized since the end
of New Order era (1966-1998). Based on extensive fieldwork and
observation, this book provides a new bottom-up perspective on
how activities, administration and membership of each party has
changed, and why some parties have more developed organizational
prowess and stronger institutional base than others.

Ulla Fionna is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast

Asian Studies, Singapore, and Honorary Associate at the Depart-
ment of Indonesian Studies of the University of Sydney, Australia.

“The book is a substantially original contribution to our knowledge

of contemporary Indonesian politics and to the study of compara-
tive political parties. Its originality lies in the presentation of new
facts about political parties in Indonesia and in the analysis of
those facts within a theory, also in part original, of the relationship
of parties, particularly local party branches, to democratic consoli-
dation …”
— Bill Liddle, Ohio State University

isbn 978 90 8964 536 4

amsterdam university press