Elisabeth Kramer is a PhD student at the University of Sydney and a Teaching Fellow with the Department of Indonesian Studies. She is researching anti-corruption symbolism and rhetoric in Indonesia’s legislative election campaigns. She was in Indonesia in the lead up to the Legislative elections and we asked her a few questions about what she observed.
My PhD research is on election campaigning and how discourses of anti-corruption are used by emerging parties at different scales, namely at the national and local levels. I’d already been in Indonesia for just over a year and a half and decided to come back for the six weeks prior to the election to see how all the planning done by parties and candidates I’d met in the past played out during the actual campaign period.
On a more serious note, one thing that always sticks in my mind is the attitude that different candidates have towards their constituents. I would often find it jarring to hear an upper-middle class politician who lives mostly in Jakarta tell you (with great authority) what people in the villages think, and what they need. Or disparaging comments about their understandings of politics and their ability to be swayed by money. Fascinating in a bad way, I suppose, because the lack of political education is a reality, but many candidates don’t see it as their role to enlighten people about the democratic system, just to convince the to vote for them. And yet they complain about it too.