Authors : Caroline Paskarina
Abstract: This study focuses on a strategy of personal contact with voters that was used by many candidates in the 2014 general election. Unlike in earlier elections in 2014 candidates preferred to visit their constituents individually or directly. The silaturahmi was often used to describe such visits and became a popular terms for characterizing a style of campaigning that relied on personal contacts between candidates and voters. At first glance there is nothing wrong with this style of politics because it suggests that candidates will be able to learn directly from constituents about their needs and aspirations. But it becomes complicated by the patterns of power relations that have developed between elites and masses in Indonesias new democracy. This study examines the rise of silaturahmi as a strategy used by politicians to build patronage networks, facilitating the exchange of material resources for votes. The concept of patronage is used as a theoretical lens to describe the forms of the resources being exchanged, the distribution patterns being used and consequently the power relations formed between the candidates and the public. Silaturahmi is an informal institution used to maintain the patronage power relations. By understanding these dynamics, this study helps show how elites attempt to maintain their power by using a strategy that is at first sight populist. Though the politics of silaturahmi is presented as being all about warm personal contacts connecting politicians and voters, it is simultaneously used to maintain patronage relationships that end up marginalizing ordinary people in political dynamics.
Caroline Paskarina , 2017. Politics of Silaturahmi: Religious Tradition as Political Brokerage Strategy in the 2014 Legislature Election in Indonesia. The Social Sciences, 12: 1983-1990.