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The Rise of Political Dynasties in a Democratic Society

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The emergence of political dynasties in democratic societies, particularly in consolidating democracies, has raised concerns among democratic activists, policymakers, and academics. By analyzing the emergence of political dynasties at the subnational level, this paper explores the underlying causes of the formation of political dynasties and the political mechanisms that enable dynastic politicians to preserve and to extend their power in consolidating democracies. Additionally, this paper examines dynastic variations within a democracy, i.e., why some families are able to build political dynasty, while others fail. This paper argues that, the determinants of success in building a political dynasty are the strength of the informal family network and the size of accumulated material wealth, which help dynastic politicians to tilt the playing field that can be created by using status of one of the family members as an incumbent.
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Arryman Fellow Research Paper
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The Rise of Political Dynasties in a Democratic Society*
Yoes C. Kenawas
Arryman Fellow Research Paper
May 2015
Abstract: The emergence of political dynasties in democratic societies, particularly in
consolidating democracies, has raised concerns among democratic activists, policymakers, and
academics. By analyzing the emergence of political dynasties at the subnational level, this paper
explores the underlying causes of the formation of political dynasties and the political
mechanisms that enable dynastic politicians to preserve and to extend their power in
consolidating democracies. Additionally, this paper examines dynastic variations within a
democracy, i.e., why some families are able to build political dynasty, while others fail. This
paper argues that, the determinants of success in building a political dynasty are the strength of
the informal family network and the size of accumulated material wealth, which help dynastic
politicians to tilt the playing field that can be created by using status of one of the family
members as an incumbent.
Keywords: Political dynasty, subnational politics, competitive authoritarianism,
democratization
1. Introduction
In March 2013, 26-year old Mohammad Makmun Ibnu Fuad was inaugurated as the
Bupati or “Regent” of Bangkalan District, East Java.1 He became the youngest regent in today’s
Indonesia. What makes Makmun’s success more interesting is the fact that he replaced his father
Fuad Amin Imron who had just completed his second term since taking office in 2003.2 Makmun
was not alone. In Indonesia, there are many politicians who replace their family members as
governor, regent, district head, or mayor. For example, in Kediri (East Java), Haryanti Sutrisno
* This is a paper prepared for the Arryman Fellow Symposium, June 2015. This work was conducted under the
auspices of an Arryman Fellow award from the Indonesian Scholarship and Research Support Foundation (ISRSF)
through generous academic donations from PT Djarum, Bank BCA, PT Adaro, the William Soeryadjaya
Foundation, the Rajawali Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Please do not cite without permission.
1 Bupati or regent is an executive position at a jurisdiction level similar to a county in the United States. This paper
employs the terms district, city, and municipality interchangeably to refer to administrative governmental units one
level below provincial government.
2 Law No. 22/1999 and Law No.32/2004 on regional government stipulate that the regional executive head
governor (province), regent (district), and mayor (municipality/city)can be elected for only two terms (five years
per term).
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succeeded her husband Sutrisno as the regent. In Gowa (South Sulawesi), Ichsan Yasin Limpo
replaced his brother Muhammad Syahrul Yasin Limpo as district regent after the latter won the
gubernatorial election. In addition to executive office succession, a variation of this familial
politics is the expansion of power by dynastic politicians to other executive offices in
neighboring districts or to the legislative branch. In Banten Province, for instance, some family
members of the former governor Ratu Atut Choisiyah become regent or deputy regent in four
different districts, while others become legislators at the district, provincial, or national level.
These cases are just some examples of the emergence of political dynasties in a consolidating
democracy like Indonesia. A similar phenomenon can be found in many democratic societies
around the world.3
This study examines the monopolization of political power by political elites who are
connected by familial ties at the subnational level in a consolidating democracy. It explores the
underlying causes of the formation of political dynasties—generally defined as a form of
monopoly of political power and holding public office by politicians based predominantly on
family connections—and the political mechanisms that enable subnational dynastic politicians to
preserve and to extend their power in a consolidating democracy.4 The starting point of this study
is the fact that inherited power succession and expansion of a power base for elected office
through a democratic mechanism are possible.5 These kinds of strategy are commonly found in
3 Political dynasties can be found in other democracies such as Japan, Greece, India, the Philippines, and the United
States.
4 It is important to make a distinction between political dynasties in well-established democracies and in
consolidating democracies, as well as to separate political dynasties in consolidating democracies from dynasties in
authoritarian regimes. The three regime settingswell-established democracy, consolidating democracy, and
authoritarianpresent three different political contexts wherein dynastic politicians operate. Consequently, the
causes and the purposes of political dynasties in these types of regime may differ from one another. As a first step,
the current research focuses on the rise of political dynasties in consolidating democracies only.
5 This paper is not arguing that dynastic succession and expansion of power bases are impossible in democratic
countries. In fact, political dynasties exist in many well-established democracies. The way dynastic politicians
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pre-modern political systems and authoritarian regimes.6 In some countries, the emergence of
political dynasties can be observed clearly at the subnational level.7
The existence of political dynasties in democratic societies, particularly in a consolidating
democracy, has sparked debate among pro-democratic activists, scholars and policymakers. In
many cases, activists, political experts, politicians, and scholars have charged political dynasties
with being a stumbling block to democratic consolidation, an erosion of the quality of
democracy, a source of corruption, a root cause of underdevelopment, and an obstacle to
reformist candidates’ ability to occupy office.8 Some responses to the existence of political
dynasties have emerged, such as introducing anti-dynastic laws; essentially, however, these
responses are contradictory to democratic values.9
Given the salience of the rise of political dynasties during democratic consolidation, this
study seeks to answer the following questions: Why do political dynasties emerge in democratic
occupy office in well-established democracies, however, is different from that of dynasties in transitioning
democracies. As argued by Prewitt and Stone (1973, p.133) “Democracy, except in certain radical formulations,
does not deny an (hereditary) elite, but it urges that the qualifications for this elite be talent, accomplishment, and
achievement, rather than birth and blood line.” In their seminal work, Dal Bó, Dal Bó, and Snyder (2009, p. 116)
find that even in the U.S., inherited transfer of power does exist despite the general perception that such kind of
power transfer is undemocratic.
6 Brownlee (2007); Clubok, Wilensky, and Berghorn (1969); Fukai and Fukui (1992); Levitsky and Way (2010, pp.
28-29); Patrikios and Chatzikonstantinou (2014, p. 93). Dahl (2005, 11-24) explains that political “modernization”
in New Haven, Connecticut occurred when political elites from “patrician families” were no longer able to dominate
local politics due to the emergence of new leaders who had better ability to mobilize the masses. He further argues
that five factors contributed to this change: 1) introduction of the secret ballot; 2) broader suffrage; 3) population
growth; 4) political parties as a new mode to mobilize the masses; and 5) a more flexible democratic ideology (Dahl,
2005, pp. 20-24). See also Huntington (1968, pp. 93-191).
7 This study focuses only on the rise of political dynasties at the subnational level, primarily because studying
dynasties at this level minimizes the variations that may occur if the study is conducted in cross-country research
such as institutional settings, technological differences, and colonial experience, among others (Balisacan and Fuwa
(2003, 2004)). In other countries, direct continuation of power from the incumbent to his/ her family member and
expansion of political power to other executive or legislative branches are also observable at the national level.
8 See for instance Asako, Iida, Matsubayashi, and Ueda (2012); Balisacan and Fuwa (2003, 2004); Brookhiser
(1999); Directorate General of Regional Autonomy (2013); Fernandez (2014); Kompas (2013a, 2014); Marshall
(2014); Matt (1996); Patrikios and Chatzikonstantinou (2014, p. 95). Ishibashi and Reed (1992, p. 376), however,
find that level of competitiveness among candidates increases when dynastic politicians join electoral competition.
9 Kompas (2013b); Republika (2011a)
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societies? How do dynastic politicians capture, sustain, and expand their power? Within
democracies, why do dynasties exist in some places and not in others?
This paper proposes three main arguments. First, institutional change in the leader
selection mechanism from a centralized-authoritarian to a decentralized and democratized system
may lead to an unintended consequence—the rise of political dynasties at the subnational level.
In a centralized selection system for subnational leader, local elites may not have been able to
capture public office because everything was strictly managed by the central government. The
new mechanism opens a window of opportunity for local elites to consolidate and expand their
power base by utilizing undemocratic methods.10
Second, the rise of political dynasties at the subnational level in consolidating
democracies is caused primarily by the ability of incumbent dynastic politicians to create an
“uneven playing field” by exploiting their family networks and material wealth to help their
family members to win office.11 Family networks are useful for the politicians to exercise
various forms of an informal “menu of manipulation”12 such as vote buying, misappropriation of
state financial resources and infrastructure, politicization of state institutions (mobilization of
state apparatuses), and intimidation through thug groups. Additionally, unlike political dynasties
in developed democracies that rely on family name, self-perpetuation of political power by
dynastic politicians in consolidating democracies relies more on their material wealth to win an
election. 13 In many cases, they accumulate their material wealth through illicit funding
mechanisms such as manipulating the state budget and receiving kickbacks from government
10 This paper echoes Sidel (1999) argument on local political bosses in the Philippines.
11 This paper borrows this term from Levitsky and Way (2010, pp. 9-12)
12 “Menu of manipulation” is a term coined by Schedler (2002) to describe various methods commonly used by
authoritarian regimes to manipulate elections.
13 “Self-perpetuation of political power” is a term borrowed from Dal Bó et al. (2009)
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contracts. Moreover, dynastic politicians use their family networks and material wealth for their
territorial politics in order to prevent the intrusion of national political actors or central
authorities into subnational level politics.14 Whenever dynastic politicians lose their grip on
territorial control, their ability to consolidate and expand their dynastic control diminishes. In
short, dynastic politicians in a consolidating democracy may capture public office—to either
create, strengthen, or expand their power base—through a democratic process, i.e., election, but
by exercising anti-democratic methods. Therefore, the capacity of a politician to create,
consolidate, and expand his/her political dynasty depends on: 1) the strength of the informal
family network; and 2) the size of accumulated material wealth garnered by using his/her status
as an incumbent. These two factors help dynastic politicians to create an arena of uneven
competition that seriously hinders the opposition from capturing office at the subnational level.
Finally, this paper argues that, in many cases in consolidating democracies, incumbents
need to build a political dynasty in order to mitigate the risks that may occur during and/or after
they step down from office, including legislative opposition during their tenure, possible defeat
in the reelection campaign, and potential prosecution after leaving office.15 In cases where
holding office is an important source of illegal wealth or used to defend business interests,
dynastic capture of offices is strongly favored. Incumbents select family members to replace
them in their position and/or to strengthen their power base primarily because family members
14 Gibson (2005) calls this “boundary control.”
15 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 28) mention that some risks that may follow the succession of a ruler in a competitive
authoritarian regime are “possible seizure of wealth and prosecution for corruption or human-rights violations.”
Brownlee (2007, pp. 595-628) also mentions that dynastic succession may be an alternative for departing autocratic
leaders to protect themselves from possible threats, such as criminal prosecution, after they have left office.
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are the most trustworthy alternative for the incumbent, in that “blood is thicker than water.”16
Family ties become the primary elite selection mechanism to protect the incumbent’s interests.17
The arguments of this paper draw on and support a range of existing literatures. In
particular, this paper is related to the literature on hybrid regimes in the age of democratization,
particularly with “competitive authoritarianism.”18 This literature refers to a point on a spectrum
where a regime exists somewhere between democracy and authoritarianism. Democratic
elements—such as competitive elections, respect for civil liberties, and actors’ commitment to
democracy as the only viable channels for political transition—exist, but “the playing field is
heavily skewed in favor of incumbents.”19 Additionally, this research resembles Gibson’s
“subnational authoritarianism” because the focus is on deviations from democratic ideals that
occur at the subnational level.20 This paper’s case study shows that even though at the national
level a democratic framework exists, at the subnational level competitive authoritarian practices
remain evident. Therefore, the emergence of political dynasties at the subnational level should be
understood as a form of subnational competitive authoritarian regime, and yet this non-
democratic phenomenon is achieved through formally democratic procedures. This creates a kind
of “dissonance of legitimacy.” On the one hand, dynastic families visibly compete in the
legitimate democratic game. On the other, voters know there is something illegitimate about
political positions consistently being dominated by a single family, or worse, specific offices
16 Querubin (2010, p. 2) also mentions that relationship among family members enables politician to cooperate, and
together they can solve collective action problem easily.
17 Prewitt and Stone (1973, p. 133); Putnam (1976, pp. 4, 52, 61). In some cases, however, incumbents may select
non-family members to succeed or to expand their power base.
18 Bogaards (2009); Bunce and Wolchik (2010); L. J. Diamond (2002); Gibson (2005); Levitsky and Way (2010);
Ottaway (2013); Schedler (2006). For discussions on variations of democratic and authoritarian regime see Levitsky
and Way (2010, pp. 13-16)
19 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 5)
20 Gibson (2005, 2010); Snyder (2001). This paper also speaks to other works on democratization at the subnational
level such as Behrend (2011); Cornelius, Eisenstadt, and Hindley (1999); Gervasoni (2010b); Giraudy (2010); Sidel
(1999). Most of these works focus on subnational democratization in Latin America.
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passing directly from one family member to the next. Finally, this paper also speaks to the
literature on elites in democracy, particularly regarding the existence of oligarchy in a
democratic society. This paper shows that political dynasty can be a political alternative for elites
to accumulate and defend their wealth.21
Despite the prevalence of political dynasties across political systems, research on political
dynasties in a democratic society is limited.22 The existing literature discussing the emergence of
political dynasties can be divided into two camps. Scholars who study primarily the emergence
of political dynasties in the U.S. dominate the first camp.23 These scholars argue that the most
crucial distinction that differentiates American dynastic politicians from non-dynastic politicians
is the former’s family name that provides “brand name advantage,” a cardinal factor to attract
voters and perpetuate power.24 Their family name also opens their access to political positions in
political parties, informal networks that supported their predecessors, and financial backing for
political campaigns.25 The family factor also serves as a channel of socialization and education
that enables members of political dynasties to gain knowledge about politics and public policy.26
These scholars assume that dynastic politicians operate in a well-established democracy. The
name-brand effect is important in all political systems, but not sufficient in explaining the rise of
political dynasties in consolidating democracies or in hybrid regimes, where dynastic politicians
may exercise illegal mechanisms to win elections without being worried about sanctions from
formal institutions.
21 Winters (2011) defines oligarchy as a “wealth defense mechanism.” This paper shows that a political elite
(incumbent) can turn into an oligarch by using his/her formal power to build a political dynasty. This strategy is
designed to overcome potential threats to his/her wealth after leaving office.
22 For discussions on hereditary succession in autocratic regimes, see for example Brownlee (2007); Park (2011);
Stacher (2011)
23 See Clubok et al. (1969); Crowley and Reece (2013); Dal Bó et al. (2009); Feinstein (2010); Hess (1966)
24 Crowley and Reece (2013); Feinstein (2010)
25 Hess (1966); Ishibashi and Reed (1992)
26 Kurtz (2001); Putnam (1976)
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The second camp explains the emergence of political dynasties in a consolidating
democracy. Scholars in this camp argue mainly that historical legacy (including family heritage),
poor economic conditions, low party institutionalization, weak law enforcement, personalistic
voting behavior, and failure of democratic institutions to alter the previous regime’s source of
power lead to the emergence of political dynasties.27 Although these studies are useful, they are
limited in explaining variations within a country, i.e., answering why some regions are dynastic
prevalent and others are not, despite the fact that these regions operate under a similar party
system, historical legacy, economic condition, centralized law enforcement agencies, etc.
This paper fills the gap by arguing that the rise of political dynasties in a consolidating
(or flawed) democracy is not caused merely by institutional weaknesses but occur also because
the dynastic incumbent encounters several political challenges which force him/her to take
strategic action for mitigating potential risks.28 Additionally, the incumbent’s ability to build and
strengthen his/her family networks, to accumulate wealth, and eventually to create an uneven
playing field, is crucial in determining his/her success in building a political dynasty.
This study employs a case study from Indonesia, specifically from Banten Province, to
support its arguments.29 Indonesia is selected because since decentralization and direct local
election were introduced in 2005, approximately 60 political dynasties have emerged in various
provinces and districts/municipalities.30 Banten has been identified as a dynastic-prevalent area,
where at least eleven family members of the governor occupy various public offices.
27 See for instance Amundsen (2013); Buehler (2013); Camp (1982); Chhibber (2013); Harjanto (2011); McCoy
(2009); Mendoza, Beja Jr, Venida, and Yap (2012); Querubin (2011, 2013); Thompson (2012).
28 See also Fajar (2014) for a study on durability of sub-national political leaders in post-authoritarian regimes.
29 Some excellent studies on Bantenese political dynasty: Masaaki and Hamid (2008) and Hamid (2014)
30 Kompas (2013a)
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This paper is structured as follows. First, it establishes a working definition of political
dynasties and discusses past literature on the topic. Second, this paper builds the theoretical
framework to explain the emergence of political dynasties at the subnational level in democratic
societies. In the third section, the paper reviews the institutional setting of Indonesia’s post-
Suharto democracy to set the context of where dynastic politicians operate. The fourth section
presents the case study. Finally, this paper provides the conclusion and recommended for further
research.
2. Literature review
2.1 Establishing a working definition of political dynasties
Previous studies define political dynasties in various ways. Dalet al. (2009, pp. 116,
119) define political dynasty “those from a family that had previously placed a member in
Congress.”31 Ishibashi and Reed (1992, p. 367) and Asako et al. (2012, p. 2) define a political
dynasty simply as a group of politicians who inherit public office from one of their family
members who occupies the office. In the same vein, Thompson (2012) describes political
dynasties simply as another type of direct and indirect political power transition involving family
members. Additionally, Querubin (2011) defines a political dynasty as one or a small number of
families who dominate the power distribution in a particular geographic area.32 His definition is
similar to those of other scholars like Camp (1982). A stricter definition by Hess (1966) posits a
political dynasty as “any family that has had at least four members, in the same name, elected to
31 Rossi (2009b, p. 4) and Feinstein (2010, pp. 571, 578) also use a similar definition. Feinstein, however, expands
the meaning of office from Congress only, to governor and U.S. senator as well.
32 In his earlier work, Querubin (2010, p. 3) defines a dynastic politician as someone who has family members who
served as a member of Congress or Governor prior to the election. In this definition, Querubin captures the
importance of sequencing.
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federal office.”33 These definitions are useful but unable to capture important variations that,
based on this research’s initial observations, may occur.
First, the definitions by Dal et al., Rossi, Ishibashi and Reed, Asako et al. and
Thompson do not cover the expansion of monopoly of power that may occur simultaneously in
different branches of a democracy. This study argues that political dynasties are not merely about
continuation but also include expansion of power to other branches of democratic institutions
(for instance, legislative or executive branches at lower or higher levels). For instance, if A is a
governor of a province and A’s family member B is a member of that province’s parliament,
then the definition set by Asako et al. is unable to capture this phenomenon as a political
dynasty. Their definition applies only if A is a governor and B directly replaces A in a
subsequent election.
Second, the definitions offered by Dal et al., Feinstein, Rossi, Thompson and
Querubin may not be effective in capturing the phenomenon of political dynasties because they
do not consider the time factor. To illustrate, if A is a governor from 1945 to 1950, and B is A’s
family member who is elected governor in the same province in 2010, Thompson’s and
Querubin’s definitions encounter a difficulty in showing how A’s position helped B to secure the
office, because the span between their tenures is too long and A’s influence in that province may
have already disappeared. In other words, timeframe is an important consideration for
establishing a definition of political dynasties.34
33 Clubok et al. (1969, p. 1040) use sons, grandsons, nephews, brothers, or first cousins as examples of familial
relationship. These examples are even more restrictive because they focus on male politicians only (Kurtz 1989, p.
338).
34 Time frame is important regarding dynastic succession. Two dictionary definitions of a dynasty are “a sequence of
rulers from the same family, stock, or group” and “a series of rulers or leaders who are all from the same family, or a
period when a country is ruled by them” (Cambridge Dictionary Online; Dictionary.com, 2015).
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Finally, Hess’ strict definition of political dynasties is also problematic for several
reasons. First, in many countries family name may not be a part of local tradition. For instance,
in Indonesia, it is common that an individual has a single name, without a family name. Thus,
many members of political dynasties do not share a family name with the dynasties’ founders.
Second, Hess specifies that at least four members of the family must have been elected to various
public positions. His definition is problematic because it does not capture variants of political
dynasty that currently have fewer than four members who have succeeded in securing public
office.
In this study, political dynasty is defined as elected public officials (governor/ mayor/
regent/ legislator) who have a familial connection with an incumbent at the same, lower, or
higher level (district to provincial) based on marital relationship, vertical lineage, or extended
family. These officials may be elected in during the tenure of the incumbent or in a subsequent
period. 35 This definition captures not only a broad timeframe for office succession but also a
family’s power expansion to other executive and legislative branches.
2.2 The origins of political dynasties
Several scholars have explained some reasons behind the emergence of political
dynasties in a democratic society. By utilizing historical records from the U.S. Congress, Dal
et al. (2009) argue that the period of an incumbent’s occupying office is positively correlated
35 The working definition of this research implies that two family members’ occupying the same office but not in an
immediately subsequent period (i.e., there is an intervening period with an office holder who is not a member of the
family), should be categorized as a political family (see also Kurtz (1989, pp. 335-338)). A political dynasty consists
of at least one political family. A political family, however, does not necessarily turn into a political dynasty. This
paper’s definition of political dynasty is similar to that of Patrikios and Chatzikonstantinou (2014), but they focus
more on political dynasties in the parliamentary branch.
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with the probability of the creation of political dynasty of the incumbent’s family.36 They argue
that this phenomenon is an example of “power begets power.” Their research is also supported
and expanded by Feinstein (2010) on the electoral origins of American dynasties in Congress,
Crowley and Reece (2013) on American governors; and Kurtz (1995) on the Justices of the U.S.
and Louisiana Supreme Courts; and (2009a) on Argentinian political dynasties. According to this
group of scholars, the main reason behind dynastic politicians’ success is their “brand name
advantage.”37 Dynastic brand name advantage is not only beneficial for attracting voters, but it
may also help dynastic politicians to occupy minor positions in their party organization, and their
family name provides a wider access to financial contributors for their political campaigns.38
Dynastic politicians also have greater opportunity to secure support from traditional informal
groups that previously supported their predecessors (for summary see Table 1).39
36 Dal Bó et al. (2009, p. 116)
37 The root of these scholars’ argument is prior works by Clubok et al. (1969); Hess (1966); Kurtz (1989); Lott Jr
(1986)
38 Crowley and Reece (2013). Feinstein (2010, pp. 585-589), however, rejects these hypotheses.
39 Asako et al. (2012); Dal Bó et al. (2009, pp. 116, 132); Ishibashi and Reed (1992); Kurtz (2001)
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Table 1. Summary of Literature on the Origins of Political Dynasties in Democracies
Authors
Year
Origin of Political Dynasties
Countries
Hess
1966
Brand name advantage, local
connection
The United States
Kurtz
1995,
2001
Dal et al.
2009
Feinstein
2010
Crowley and Reece
2013
Rossi
2009 a,c
Argentina
Fukai and Fukui
1992
Informal, heredited & individualistic
strong campaign organization
Japan
Ishibashi and Reed
1992
Asako et al.
2012
Kurtz
2001
Japan, Mexico
Camp
1976
Poor economic condition
Mexico
Mendoza et al.
2012
The Philippines
Harjanto
2011
Weak party institutionalization and
institutional change
Indonesia
Amundsen
2013
Weak party institutionalization
Bangladesh
Querubin
2010
Historical legacy and institutional
change
The Philippines
Chibber
2013
Weak party institutionalization,
absence of civil society, centralized
financing
India
Kerklivet
1995
Weak central government
The Philippines
Quimpo
2007
Mc.Coy
2009
Source: compiled by the author
The underlying assumption of scholars who belive in “brand name advantage” as the
primary source of dynastic success is that family name serves as quality assurance of a
politician’s accountability. Following the theory of elite socialization, these scholars believe that
members of political dynasties are more exposed than others to a conducive environment for
internalization of particular political values, education on how to run political strategies, and
familiarization with life as a politician.40 Thus, members of political dynasties naturally want to
follow the career path of their predecessor. In some societies, family becomes a primary channel
for elite selection and recruitment.41 In Kurtz’s (1989, 332) words “politics has become
40 Clubok et al. (1969, p. 1036); Kurtz (1989, p. 349; 2001)
41 Kurtz (1989); Putnam (1976, pp. 4, 39, 47, 52, 61). Kurtz (1989, 332) argues that family plays an important role in
shaping someone’s decision to become a political leader. Similarly, Feinstein (2010, p. 589) argues that dynastic
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something of a ‘family business’.” Additionally, given that name recognition is an important part
of winning an election, and it is costly to create name recognition from nothing, the candidates
have an immediate advantage over their non-dynastic competitors. And if the name has positive
connotations from the past, the candidate with a recognized name enjoys an opportunity to
piggyback on the “symbolic identity” associated with the family name. This logic is similar to
the concept of product brand in the commercial market wherein customers will buy products
only from a company they trust. In the electoral market, voters have a tendency to vote for
“good” politicians with proven accountability. Furthermore, dynastic politicians are assumed to
have a long-term strategic calculation. If dynastic politicians want their family members to
succeed their position or to get elected for other office, then these politicians must maintain their
accountability and deliver their campaign promises to the electorate. Additionally, this line of
argument suggests that dynastic privilege can be an effective mechanism to deter the incumbents
from pursuing private interests that may harm public interests.42 Implicitly, this group of scholars
assumes that dynastic politicians work under a well-established and institutionalized democratic
framework wherein: 1) voters have (almost) perfect information about politicians’ behavior; and
2) the rule of law works effectively to punish any misconduct by politicians.
Although these theories are useful in explaining why political dynasties appear in well-
established democracies, their generalizability is limited. Their basic concepts do not explain the
rise of political dynasties in consolidating democracies settings where: 1) voters lack basic
information for assessing politicians’ performance; and 2) the rule of law is weak and politicians
may exploit state resources illegally for their personal interests without concern for any
politicians have the opportunity to consult their predecessor regarding their chances before they join an election. It is
important to note that Putnam (1976, 61) and Clubok et al. (1969, 1036) argue that in modern societies, family as an
elite selection mechanism becomes less popular.
42 Crowley and Reece (2013); Dal Bó et al. (2009); Feinstein (2010)
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repercussion from the state.43 Many dynasties in developing countries do not merely rely on their
family reputation.44 In many cases, they utilize illegal and coercive means to influence the
electorates. 45 Even if they rely on their family reputation, the reputation may represent not
accountability but rather fear.
Research on political dynasty in consolidating democracies has offered some more useful
views on how dynastic politicians are able to consolidate and expand their power base in
developing countries. Some scholars argue that an economic factor contributes to the emergence
of political dynasty in these countries. Studies by Camp (1976) in Mexico and Mendoza (2012)
on Philippine dynastic politics suggest that the rise of political dynasties can be attributed in part
to traditional societies and poor economic conditions under which voters with lower economic
status tend to vote for dynastic politicians. Poor electorates present a conducive environment for
dynastic politicians—who are mostly local or national level oligarchs—to expoit their material
wealth for patronage politics.
Another explanation for the rise of political dynasties in consolidating democracies is the
theory of weak central government vis-à-vis powerful local and national oligarchs. Scholars who
propose this theory posit that the state’s inability to enforce the law and the national elite’s
dependency on local oligarchs provide a fertile ground for local strongmen to build their
dynasties.46 In the Philippines, for instance, the colonial legacy privileged local landed oligarchs
such that they became highly powerful; the resulting power was further strengthened through a
series of political reforms, including the introduction of local direct elections and elections for
43 Linz and Stepan (1996, pp. 7-15) argue that five interacting arenascivil society, political society, rule of law,
state bureaucracy, and economic societymust present to make a democracy consolidated. Furthermore, as argued
by Burton, Gunther, and Higley (1992, p. 5), democracy is not yet consolidated when elites do not agree on rules of
the game of democracy and they maintain low level of trust among them.
44 Hess (1966)
45 McCoy (2009)
46 Hasibuan (2013); Irmansyah (2014); Kerkvliet (1995); McCoy (2009); Querubin (2010); Quimpo (2007)
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national legislatures including the senate.47 Two consequences emerged from this change in
institutional arrangement. First, political parties were never institutionalized; and second,
national government became dependent on the power of local oligarchs.48
Futhermore, the failure of political parties in establishing democratic intra-party selection
and promotion mechanisms has provided fertile ground for dynastic politicians to dominate the
decision making within the party organization, including to nurture, promote, and select the
party’s candidates for elections. Studies by Chhibber (2013) in India; Harjanto (2011) in
Indonesia; and Amundsen (2013) in Bangladesh propose the similar argument that poor party
institutionalization is the culprit that paves a way for dynastic politicians to capture nomination
of the party’s candidate for elections.
This paper extends the arguments by scholars who study political dynasties in
consolidating democratics. The main problem with these arguments is an inability to explain
variations within a country. If the situation at the national level is similar to that at local levels—
weak state, strong local oligarchs, and poor party institutionalization—then why do political
dynasties occur only in some provinces or districts throughout the country rather than in all of
them? Additionally, these lines of argument are unable to explain why some dynastic politicians
are able to consolidate and expand their power, while others—who theoretically have the same
opportunity—fail. Finally, most of these arguments put too much emphasis on a normative
vision of democracy, i.e., formal democratic institutions functioning as expected by democratic
ideals. In fact, many countries that experience regime transitions may or may not become
47 Querubin (2010, pp. 5-7)
48 Querubin (2010, p. 7; 2011) also argues that in the Philippines, the introduction of term limits has failed to curb
the persistence of political dynasties. On the contrary, term limits may accommodate dynastic consolidation and
expansion, as well as may deter potential challengers from competing against dynastic politicians. This paper shares
Querubin’s argument and posits democratic institutional changes may present an unintended consequence that is an
extreme concentration of power in a small number of elites who secure, consolidate, and expand their power base
through democratic procedures. This line of argument is based on Acemoglu and Robinson (2008).
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consolidated democracies. Some of them may return to authoritarian regimes, while others may
become stuck in the two regimes. The latter arrangement includes some functioning formal
democratic institutions and simultaneously, some informal institutions.49
This research aims to fill the gap by proposing that variations within countries can be
explained by looking at how incumbents who want to build a political dynasty exploit their
family networks and material wealth, as well as how such incumbents manage to engineer an
“uneven playing field” at the subnational level, favoring the incumbent’s family members.50
Creating an uneven playing field can be accomplished through various strategies (mostly illegal),
such as controlling the local elections management and supervisory body, exploiting an informal
coercive-repression mechanism, conspiring with local law enforcement agencies, mobilizing
local government apparatuses and physical resources, exploiting the local government budget for
targeted social aid, and many more.51 The range of approaches highlights the importance of the
dynastic incumbent’s ability to control local “territorial politics.”52
3. Theoretical framework
Democratization should be understood not solely as a national-level phenomenon. Dahl
(1971, p. 12) argues that each country has a varying degree of democratic contestation and
inclusiveness that can be observed at not only the national level but also the subnational and
social organizational levels. It is possible for politics at the national level to display a high degree
49 O'Donnell (2010, p. 24)
50 Levitsky and Way (2010, pp. 9-12).
51 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 10) consider an uneven playing field exists when “1) state institutions are widely
abused for partisan ends, 2) incumbents are systematically favored at the expense of the opposition, and 3) the
opposition’s ability to organize and compete in elections is seriously handicapped.” Furthermore, they suggest that
an “uneven playing field” can be observed by looking at access to resources, media, and law (Levitsky & Way,
2010, pp. 10-12)
52 This paper borrows Gibson’s (2005, pp. 15-17) concept of territorial system, particularly emphasizing the
interaction between subnational site and scale of political action.
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of contestation and inclusiveness, while politics at the subnational level show the contrary.
Hegemonic politics at the subnational level may coexist with a democratic framework at the
national level. Moreover, politics at the subnational level are confined within a national
institutional framework. Therefore, a different approach is needed to analyze democratization at
the subnational level. A prominent scholar on subnational politics says “Subnational
democratization is not democratization in short pants.”53
This research employs two main theories to frame the explanation of the rise of political
dynasties at the subnational level: competitive authoritarianism and subnational authoritarianism.
This paper argues that these two concepts are relevant because self-perpetuation of political
power of dynasties in consolidating democracies is not the same as their counterpart in more
developed democracies. Unlike in the latter, political dynasties in consolidating democracies win
elections by employing methods that are commonly found in authoritarian regimes--for example,
vote buying, misappropriation of state budget and facilities, mobilization of state apparatuses,
repression, and electoral fraud. This does not mean that a country like Indonesia or the
Philippines is an authoritarian state. In fact, these countries have undergone regime transitions
from authoritarian to more democratic. The transition, however, may lead in different directions:
stable and consolidated democracy, hybrid regimes, and reversion to authoritarian regime. To
complicate matters, there are countries that show real progress toward consolidated democracy at
the national level, but at the subnational level, local political elites may not operate according to
formal democratic institutions. The local practice eventually creates competitive authoritarian
enclaves at the subnational level. It is argued here that although these dynasties operate in a
53 Gibson (2005, p. 9)
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formal democratic framework, they have the ability to influence the electoral outcome by
employing informal institutions.
Levitsky and Way (2010) are the first scholars to coin the concept of competitive
authoritarianism.54 They define competitive authoritarianism as a regime wherein political elites
operate under formal democratic institutions and election is the only way for leadership
transition, but the incumbents have flexibility to manipulate the playing field for their electoral
advantage.55 At the heart of their argument, they believe that competition does exist and
oppositional forces have an opportunity to replace the incumbent, but the playing field is
unequal; or, using the authors’ words, “a distinguishing feature of competitive authoritarianism is
unfair competition. The inequality of the playing field is marked by three factors: 1) the ability
of the incumbent to exploit state institutions; 2) special treatments that are directed to support the
incumbent’s advantage; and 3) subtle discrimination against the opposition’s attempts to
organize and compete.56
Unevenness of the playing field in a competitive authoritarian regime is also related to
the opposition’s access to resources, media, and the law. Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 10) argue,
“Inequality in terms of access to resources happens when incumbents use the state to create or
maintain resource disparities that seriously hinder the opposition’s ability to compete.” In this
sense, incumbents may legal or illegally tap the state financial resources, systematically mobilize
the bureaucracy, and illegally monopolize financial access to the private sector. Access to media
is uneven when the incumbent controls broadcasts or news articles to his/her electoral advantage.
54 The concept of competitive authoritarianism is closely related to other concepts that indicate the position of a
regime on the spectrum of authoritarianism versus democracy. Some scholars have termed such a hybrid regime as
“semi-authoritarianism,” “incomplete democracy,” “transitional democracy,” flawed democracy,” and
“unconsolidated democracy.” These terms, however, have flaws of their own. For more information, see Levitsky
and Way (2010, pp. 13-16).
55 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 5)
56 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 10)
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Independent media may exist but its coverage is very limited compared to the mainstream media.
The incumbent may control the media directly or by proxy through various methods such as
ownership by a family member or crony, patronage, or media buying (exclusive contracts).
Finally, access to the law is uneven when the incumbent is able to “buy” law enforcement
agencies to support his/her political interests, thus obtaining an opportunity to abuse the law
without concern for further consequences.
Competitive authoritarianism is different from full authoritarianism, because in the latter,
opposition does not have any formal channel to contest the executive power of the incumbent.57
Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 12) note, “In competitive authoritarian regimes, incumbents are
forced to sweat.” Additionally, in a competitive authoritarian setting, protection of civil liberties
does exist in the sense that media is relatively independent, and freedom of expression and
freedom of association are guaranteed. Nevertheless, on many occasions, oppositional forces are
not really free from “informal repression” by the incumbent. Candidates from opposition parties,
journalists, and activists may experience “legal” repression such as selective lawsuits and various
kinds of threats; they may even be murdered.58
Competitive authoritarianism is a powerful concept for explaining the success of
incumbents, including dynastic politicians, in winning unfair elections. Levitsky and Way,
however, focus only at the national level, whereas this paper focuses its unit of analysis at the
subnational level. Thus, this concept needs to be supported by another theory that explains the
political dynamic between formal democratic institutions at the national level and informal
competitive authoritarian practices at the subnational level. This distinction is important for
57 Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 7)
58 It is important to note that informal repression in Indonesia is not as severe as in other countries such as Malaysia
and Russia.
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several reasons. First, in many countries, the practice of competitive authoritarianism may be
unobservable at the national level but obvious at the subnational level. Second, intervention of
central authorities may hinder the incumbent’s efforts to fully practice authoritarian methods at
the subnational level. Third, by focusing on the subnational level, this paper will be able to build
controlled comparisons, i.e., minimizing potential lurking variables and hence increasing
accuracy in describing and theorizing about dynamic complex processes of political
transformation within a country.59 These three reasons are why a theory that can explain the
dynamics of national-subnational politics is important.
In this context, it is important to include the theory of subnational authoritarianism by
scholars who specialize in subnational politics in Latin America. Scholars who work on this
topic generally agree that it is possible for two different regimes—democratic and
authoritarian—to exist in the same territory, even in consolidated and mature democracies.60
Gibson (2010, 2013) calls this situation “regime juxtaposition.” This juxtaposition, he argues,
creates an arena of conflict between political power at the national and subnational governments.
Furthermore, authoritarian elites at the subnational level have to deal with challenges and
pressures presented by the democratic national regime. He further argues, “Authoritarian
incumbents dedicate major efforts to insulate their jurisdictions from such pressures and to limit
access by local oppositions to national elites and resources.” Furthermore, “These “boundary
control” efforts involve institutional strategies in multiple territorial arenas.” 61 Additionally,
governance and coalition-building strategies of the national elites have influential effects on the
59 Snyder (2001)
60 Gervasoni (2010a, 2010b); Gibson (2005, 2010, 2013); Giraudy (2010); Herrmann (2010)
61 Gibson (2013, p. 5)
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survivability of local authoritarian regimes. 62 Thus, the ability to capture the power, the
endurance, and the stability of authoritarian (or competitive authoritarian) regimes at the
subnational level depends on the relation between local and national regimes.
Gibson further argues that the existence of subnational authoritarian enclaves in
democratic countries is inseparable from how territorial politics are organized; he defines
territorial politics as how politics are “organized and fought out across territory.”63 In exercising
their territorial politics, local authoritarian incumbents try to localize conflicts that occur at the
subnational level and obstruct their opponent’s access to political backing and resources from the
national level. In other words, the incumbents will try to prevent intervention from political
powers at the national level.64 Whenever the local authoritarian regimes fail to maintain their
territorial politics, they will likely lose their power.
How do subnational competitive authoritarian regimes exercise their boundary control?
More importantly, how can these regimes be detected? This kind of regime becomes apparent
when competing parties (particularly the incumbents) employ various methods of electoral
manipulation to win elections. In this context, it is important to consider the “menu of
manipulations” as proposed by Schedler (2002). He argues fourteen strategies can be employed
by political elites. In an authoritarian regime, these strategies can be formal or informal. These
are: reserved positions and domains, exclusion and fragmentation of opposition forces,
repression and unfairness, formal and informal disenfranchisement, coercion and corruption,
electoral fraud and institutional bias, tutelage and reversal. These strategies violate seven
62 Gibson (2013); Giraudy (2010)
63 Gibson (2013, p. 15)
64 Gibson (2013, pp. 24-30)
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normative premises of democracy, including: empowerment, freedom of supply, freedom of
demand, inclusion, insulation, integrity, and irreversibility.
This paper argues that not all methods of manipulation are relevant to the discussion of
competitive authoritarianism at the subnational level. Some of these methods are not possible
because formal democratic arrangements at the national level and power of the central
government do not allow for subnational governments to create restrictions against the national
constitution or laws set by the central authority. For example, if in an authoritarian regime the
incumbent can prohibit particular candidates from joining an election (exclusion), in a
subnational competitive authoritarian setting this exclusion is not possible because of the
existence of national laws that regulate specific requirements for individuals who want to
participate in elections. This kind of situation forces political elites at the subnational level to
rely mainly on informal strategies, particularly non-programmatic distributive strategies,65
because the democratic institutions at the national level limit the possibility of their formally
restricting the opposition forces. In many cases these informal strategies are viable alternatives to
“cheat” limitations set by formal institutions. This limitation is another indicator of the tension
between national and subnational regimes; and consequently, it affects the subnational
authoritarian powers in fully exercising all strategies of manipulation. Therefore, this paper
selects only informal strategies by the incumbent as indicators of competitive authoritarianism at
the subnational level.
As mentioned earlier, the ability of an incumbent to build a political dynasty at the
subnational level in a consolidating democracy depends on how he/she can “insulate” his/her
jurisdiction from political pressure from the national political actors and state authorities. By
65 This paper borrows “non-programmatic distributive strategies” from Stokes, Dunning, Nazareno, and Brusco
(2013)
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using his/her status as the office holder, the incumbent may accumulate his/her material wealth
(legal and illegally) and use this material wealth, along with his/her family networks, to tilt the
playing field in order to help family members to win office in different branch and/or level of
government. These family members, in return, will help the incumbent to strengthen his/her
power in the region, particularly when the incumbent seeks reelection; or if another family
member runs for office in a legislative election from the same electoral district. The aggregate of
this process is the self-perpetuation of dynastic political power (see Figure 1). These scenarios
illustrate how “power begets power” in consolidating democracies.66
Source: author
66 Recall that “power begets power” is a term coined by Dal Bó et al. (2009).
Relative 4
Incumbent
Material Wealth
Relative 1
Relative 2
Family Networks
Relative 3
National Democratic Regime
National Democratic Regime
Figure 1. Self-perpetuation of Political Power of Political Dynasties
in Consolidating Democracies
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Using the logic of subnational authoritarianism, political dynasties may keep using this
mechanism as long as: 1) they can tame the local oppositions and delink these oppositions from
national political actors or authorities through various means, both legal and illegal; and 2) the
national-level political actors and authorities do not intervene in local issues.67 By doing so,
political dynasties exercise their territorial politics.68 On the contrary, if political dynasties fail to
exercise these strategies, their domination in the region may be in jeopardy. Additionally, in
some cases, penetration to other jurisdictions in order to expand the dynasty’s power base may
also be limited by the existence of other powerful actors who can control their jurisdictions more
effectively than the dynasty, so that the actors can halt the territorial expansion of the dynasty. In
this context, the decentralization design plays a crucial role because it determines the devolution
of power at various subnational governmental levels. For instance, if the decentralization design
gives more power and authority to district head rather than to governor, then the district head
may have more flexibility to consolidate his/her power at the district level and increase his/her
leverage vis-à-vis the governor. By using this framework, this paper analyzes a case study from
Banten Province—a dynastic-prevalent area in Indonesia.
67 The incumbent at the subnational level must also satisfy the political interest of party’s elite at the national level,
for example by delivering more votes during legislative elections.
68 Gibson (2013, p. 15)
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3. Institutional Context
3.1 Institutional change: Decentralization and democratization at the subnational level in
post-Suharto Indonesia
The fall of Suharto in 1998 was a critical juncture for the country that led to various
institutional changes in Indonesia, including remodeling the relationship between central and
regional government. Therefore, the rise of political dynasty at the subnational level in Indonesia
is inseparable from the introduction of decentralization and democratization in post-New Order
Indonesia. Prior to the introduction of these two institutional changes, political dynasty did not
exist at the provincial and district/municipality levels. During the New Order regime, political
dynasty could be found only at the apex of the country’s pyramidal structure of power, i.e.,
Suharto and his family, and at the lowest level of the pyramid, i.e., village-level political
institutions.69
Indonesia during Suharto’s regime was a highly centralized state. Governor, regent, and
mayor were appointed by Jakarta. If there were initiatives from a local House of Representatives
(DPRD) to nominate local political elites, these elites had to pass screening tests by the
intelligence agency and eventually they had to secure Suharto’s blessing before the Ministry of
Home Affairs gave its approval. This policy was in place because Suharto wanted to avoid any
accumulation of power in the regions so as to prevent secession movements or the rise of
potential political challengers that might endanger the country’s stability and, more importantly,
his legitimacy.70
69 For instance, Suharto appointed his daughter Siti Hardianti Rukmana (Tutut) as the Minister of Social Affairs. At
the village level, it is argued that many village chiefs (kades) inherited their power from family members (Komar
(2013).
70 Suharto learned from the experience of his predecessor, Sukarno, who had to face a series of rebellion in some
provinces in Indonesia.
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The fall of Suharto’s regime in 1998 provided an impetus for greater devolution and
transfer of administrative matters from the central government down to district-level
government, accompanied by complicated financial redistribution arrangements. In a very short
period of time, Indonesia has been remodeled from very centralized to one of the most
decentralized countries in the world.71 Suharto’s successor, B.J. Habibie, introduced these
policies to minimize the risk of regional secessionist movements72 and to show that the new
government has a strong commitment to fulfill demands of the reformist movements by bringing
the government closer to the people for a more responsive, down-to-earth, and effective public
policy. In the period of 1999-2004, however, the local head of government (governor and regent/
mayor) was still selected by the local DPRD.73 In 2004, to improve the accountability and the
legitimacy of the local leaders, the Megawati administration introduced direct local elections for
head of government at the provincial and district/ municipal levels.
These new institutional arrangements, i.e., decentralization and direct local elections,
have presented a number of unintended consequences including environmental, economic,
social, political, and for security.74 In regard to the unintended political consequences, two things
need to be highlighted here. First, the local heads of government, particularly the regent and the
mayor, have become very powerful political actors. 75 They are now in control of local
71 Buehler (2010); Pisani (2014)
72 The fall of Suharto in May 1998 intensified the secessionist movements in several provinces such as Aceh, Papua,
and East Timor. In 1999, through UN-sponsored referendum, East Timor gained its independence and changed its
name to Timor Leste. Additionally, the central government had to deal with several communal conflicts across
Indonesia, such as in Banyuwangi (East Java), Ambon (Maluku), Sambas (West Kalimantan), and many other
places. For more information see Crouch (2010).
73 The superior power of the DPRD to elect the local government head presented another problem: money politics to
buy the vote of local MPs by the candidates became rampant. This is one of the underlying reasons that the
Megawati administration introduced the direct local elections.
74 On economic issues see: Saad (2001); security issues: John F. McCarthy (2004); Wilson (2010); environmental
issues: John F McCarthy (2002); social issues: Duncan (2007); political issues: Buehler (2010); Buehler and Tan
(2007).
75 In the Indonesian term, they are called raja kecil (small king).
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bureaucracy and the local government budget, as well as the authoritative power to impose local
tax (retribution), issue permits, and enact local regulations (perda). This new situation creates a
new and localized rent-seeking regime as well as new tension with the central government.76
Second, these institutional configurations allow new local strongmen—along with “old
elites”—from various backgrounds (former military officers, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs,
religious leaders, and many others) to compete for public office.77 Choi (2014) argues, however,
that the emergence of these new elites does not necessarily reflect democratic improvement in
Indonesia. Both “old” and “new” elites employ the same old tactics to gain the electorates’
support and establish their political position, primarily by exploiting their patron-client networks
and money politics.78 The introduction of direct local elections in particular has provided a
mechanism for some of the local strongmen to consolidate and increase their power by forming
their own political dynasties.79
3.2 Defining decentralized Indonesia in the post Suharto era
Before this paper discusses the rise of political dynasty, it is necessary to understand the
kind of political environment in which the subnational dynastic politicians operate. In other
words, it is important to identify what kind of Indonesia exists after the fall of Suharto’s
authoritarian regime. Is it a democracy, a consolidating democracy, or even a semi-
76 Central government has the authority to annul local regulations that contradict laws at a higher level of
government.
77 Buehler (2007). Choi (2014) classifies the “old” and “new” elites as the “holdovers” and the “risers.”
78 Choi (2014, pp. 366-367)
79 See also Sidel (1999) for their excellent studies on political dynasties in the Philippines.
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democracy/semi-authoritarian regime wherein democracy is widely accepted as “the only game
in town” for a leader’s succession but from which many elements of democracy are missing? 80
Defining Indonesia at the state level may be extremely complicated, and scholars define it
in various ways. First, those who support the theory of democratic transition and consolidation
would argue that today’s Indonesia is a consolidating democracy. That is since the collapse of
Suharto’s regime in 1998, the country has successfully transitioned from an authoritarian to a
consolidating democracy, marked by greater freedom of the press; civil liberties; and
competitive, free, and fair elections without “obvious threats or potent anti-democratic
challengers on the horizon.”81 This group of scholars believes that Indonesia is on the right
trajectory to becoming a liberal democracy, but several fundamental issues, such as corruption,
poor party institutionalization, defective law enforcement, and many more must be resolved
before the country can be a fully consolidated democracy.
The second group of scholars—led by Winters, Hadiz, and Robison—believes
Indonesia’s democratization “has changed the form of Indonesian politics without eliminating
oligarchic rule.”82 Distribution of political power is determined by actors’ material power.83 This
camp argues that Indonesia’s transition to democracy has altered only the rule of the game for
power succession without changing oligarchic rule.84 That is, oligarchs have adapted to the new
democratic environment. Robison and Hadiz argue “these are interests (old oligarchic power)
that have been able to secure their position via new and shifting alliances; they have been able to
80 Linz and Stepan (1996, pp. 1-15)
81 Abdulbaki (2008, pp. 151-172); Carnegie (2008, pp. 515-525); L. Diamond (2010, p. 23); Freedman and Tiburzi
(2012, pp. 131-156); Mietzner (2009, pp. 105-123; 2014, pp. 111-125; 2015); Mietzner and Aspinall (2010, p. 17)
82 Ford and Pepinsky (2014, p. 2). It is important to note that although the oligarchic camp shares several similarities
in their arguments, they also differ in terms of theoretical background, definition, focus, unit of analysis, the identity
and importance of non-oligarchic actors, and scale of analysis. See Ford and Pepinsky (2014, pp. 2-6)
83 Winters (2014, pp. 11-12)
84 Ford and Pepinsky (2014, pp. 2-3); Mietzner and Aspinall (2010, p. 1)
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essentially reinvent themselves within Indonesia’s new democracy, and indeed to appropriate
it.”85 As a result of these developments, Winters defines Indonesia after 1998 as a “criminal
democracy in which untamed ruling oligarchs compete politically through elections.” 86
This study resonates with the argument of the second camp and emphasizes the role of
material wealth in the production of political power for understanding the political dynamics in
Indonesia. Furthermore, this study extends the oligarchy argument by proposing that for dynastic
political elites at the subnational level, material wealth plays a very critical role in their political
operation, specifically in helping their family members to win office. In other words, they use
their material wealth to defend their power and particularly to secure their access to continued
accumulation of the material wealth itself.87 These families may generate and accumulate their
material wealth through legal and illegal mechanisms. Additionally, the incumbents may
manipulate government programs to subtly support their family members in election campaigns.
In this sense, the boundaries between public and private interests are somewhat blurred.88
To further clarify what kind of state Indonesia is, this paper argues that analysis of
Indonesia’s political regime should be separated between the national level and the subnational
level. The distinction is important because by using this approach, Indonesia at the national level
is a democratic country, but at the subnational level, signs of a competitive authoritarian regime
are apparent in some parts of Indonesia.89 At the national level, stronger democratic competition
is evident and manipulation favoring the advantage of the incumbent creates social, political, and
85 Robison and Hadiz (2004, p. 256)
86 Winters (2011, p. 180)
87 Additionally, Winters (2011, 2014) argues that oligarchy occurs when a condition of extreme material inequality
exists between the oligarchs and the masses. One of the indicators he uses is Forbes’ 150 richest men in a country. In
this regard, dynastic politicians may not be as rich as oligarchs at the national level. These politicians, however, are
comparatively far richer than the majority of the population in their jurisdictions, and most importantly they use
their material wealth for, among other purposes, wealth defense.
88 Huntington (1968, pp. 60-61)
89 Recall that Gibson (2005, pp. 5-6) calls this situation “regime juxtaposition.”
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legal repercussion. At the subnational level, however, politicians (particularly the incumbent)
have more flexibility to manipulate the electoral playing field for their own advantage. In many
cases, they utilize their material wealth—one of the sources is from illicit state budget
appropriation—to alter the playing field in their favor. By doing so, the dynastic politicians may
have a bigger opportunity to perpetuate their power, or in Dal Bó, Dal Bó, and Snyder’s (2009, p.
116) words “power begets power.”90 In this context, this paper analyzes the rise of political
dynasties in decentralized Indonesia.
4. Case Study: the Rau Dynasty in Banten
Banten is located in the western part of Java Island. Banten can be considered a new
province in that it was created after the fall of Suharto in 1998.91 Established in October 2000,92
Banten Province consists of four municipalities and four districts.93 Prior to its establishment,
Banten was a part of West Java province. The establishment of Banten as a province was
inseparable from the role of local civil society organizations and public figures who have been
very influential in that area since the New Order regime.
One of the most important public figures for the establishment of Banten as a new
province was the late Haji Chasan Sochib.94 Haji Chasan started his business as a rice dealer at
90 In this paper, however, the self-perpetuating power of dynastic politicians is generated through a different
mechanism than suggested by Dal Bó, Dal Bó, and Snyder (2009).
91 During Suharto’s regime, there were only 27 provinces (including Timor Timur or East Timor)
92 Official Website of Banten Provincial Government (2014)
93 The four municipalities are South Tangerang, Cilegon, Serang, and Tangerang. The four districts are Serang ,
Lebak, Pandeglang, and Tangerang.
94 Masaaki (2004, p. 23) reports that initially Haji Chasan was reluctant to support the formation of Banten as a
province. The fall of Suharto, however, altered his position and he became a staunch supporter of the formation of
Banten Province.
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Rau Market, Banten.95 He subsequently became a main logistic supplier for the Siliwangi
military division.96 He then developed his business as a contractor, under the banner of CV
Ciomas Raya, for various development projects during the New Order regime.97 Furthermore,
Haji Chasan held key positions in several organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce
(Kadin) and the local Association of Contractors (Gapensi). These two organizations were
crucial because contracts for government development projects require local suppliers to have
certification from Kadin and Gapensi. In short, Haji Chasan’s strategic position in the two
organizations gave him leverage to coordinate and distribute the spoils of government projects to
his associates.98 Haji Chasan’s monopoly over development projects in Banten provided his
family with enormous wealth.99
Apart for being well known as a local entrepreneur, Haji Chasan was also well known as
the leader of local martial arts champions (jawara) through a civil society named “Indonesia
Association of Bantenese Men of Martial Arts, Art, and Culture (PPPSBBI).” 100 These jawara
are also well known as “private security providers” who are sometimes involved in violent
actions to achieve their objectives.101 These jawara played a crucial role in silencing public
resentment over the provincial government, as well as the involvement of jawara in the local
95 Haji Chasan’s political dynasty is well known as the “Rau Dynasty,” referring to its origin in Rau Market
(Republika, 2011b).
96 Masaaki (2004, p. 23)
97 The company also won several projects from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB)
(Masaaki, 2004, p. 23).
98 Masaaki (2004, p. 23)
99 Haji Chasan then handed over this monopoly to his son Tubagus Chaeri Wardhana (Wawan) who became the
head of local Kadin. The continuation of the economic monopoly from Haji Chasan to Wawan has ensured that the
largest share of government projects goes to Haji Chasan’s family. Haji Chasan’s fortune also came from his share
in Krakatau Steel (one of the biggest steelmakers in Southeast Asia) and his tourism businesses.
100 Tempo (2011)
101 Jawara are local martial arts (silat) experts wearing black uniforms and equipped with machetes (Masaaki, 2004,
p. 23). See also Masaaki and Hamid (2008) and Tempo (2011).
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parliament.102 The jawara intimidated those who openly criticized the local government, the role
of jawara in Banten’s economic and political dynamics, and Haji Chasan and his family. More
importantly, the local law enforcement agencies (the police and the public prosecutor office) did
not make any further inquiry into these intimidations.103
As an “old player” in Bantenese politics, Haji Chasan was also associated with Golkar,
Suharto’s main political vehicle. It is easy to understand the linkage between the two. Golkar
needs civilian groups to mobilize the masses during elections and to suppress dissenting opinion
against the New Order regime. Haji Chasan with his jawara was the most capable actor to
accomplish these tasks. As noted by Hamid (2014, p. 591) “During the New Order, some jawara
and the Satuan Karya Jawara (the Jawara Work Squad) were organized by the Golkar party.”
Haji Chasan’s role in Golkar continued after the fall of Suharto in 1998. The role of Haji
Chasan and his family in the 1999 general election was unknown. Later however, Haji Chasan
became one of the local spokespersons of Golkar during the 2004 election.104 Furthermore, Haji
Chasan’s son-in-law Hikmat Tomet was the head of Golkar branch in Banten. Some of Haji
Chasan’s relatives also became Golkar MPs and occupied key positions in the party at various
levels of government.
In short, Haji Chasan’s initial power in Banten was built on three sources: financial
power (from his exclusive access to government projects), coercive means (from his patronage
over the jawara), and political party (family members that occupy several key positions in the
local Golkar branch). Through the first part of 2001, Haji Chasan did not yet control the local
executive office. This situation changed in October 2001.
102 Hamid (2014, p. 580)
103 Hamid (2014, p. 580)
104 Masaaki (2004, p. 23)
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Haji Chasan knew how to adapt to the new democratic environment. In 2001, Ratu Atut
Choisiyah, one of Haji Chasan’s daughters and the wife of Hikmat Tomet, became the first
deputy governor of Banten. Atut accompanied Djoko Munandar who became the first governor
of Banten. Their success was impossible without Haji Chasan’s support (among that of others)
through mobilizing the jawara to intimidate the local MPs.105 In addition, allegedly, the pair of
Djoko-Atut won the election by bribing the local legislators.106 Atut’s success made Haji
Chasan’s power omnipresent in Banten. Now he had financial resources, control over the jawara,
major party backing, and a daughter who controlled the executive government. It is reported that
anyone who wanted to occupy important positions within the bureaucracy in Banten had to
secure Haji Chasan’s blessing, not that of the governor.107
In 2005, the governor of Banten at that time, Djoko Munandar, was implicated in a
corruption case. The Indonesian president at that time, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, temporarily
dismissed Djoko from his position as the Governor of Banten.108 Automatically, Atut became the
acting governor of Banten. The change of leadership from Djoko to Atut was crucial because it
occured just a year before Banten held its first local direct election. It meant that Atut had full
control over the local bureaucracy, making Haji Chasan’s power even stronger.
In 2006, Atut, with her running mate Muhammad Masduki, won the first direct
gubernatorial election in Banten, achieving 40.15 percent of the vote.109 Her opponents rejected
Atut’s victory and accused her of various types of electoral fraud, including mobilization of local
105 Recall that until 2005, regional executive heads were elected by the local House of Representatives (DPRD).
106 Tempo Interaktif (2001)
107 In an interview, Haji Chasan called him the “Governor General of Banten,” an informal position that fits his
power profile perfectly: a man more powerful than the formal governor. See also Hamid (2014, pp. 580-581)
108 Kompas (2013d)
109 Detik (2006)
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bureaucracy and vote buying.110 Atut’s victory, however, became the starting point of the rise of
the Rau Dynasty in a competitive electoral system.111
The anatomy of the Rau Dynasty
Since Atut became the governor of Banten, some of her family members have succeeded
in occupying several elected public positions at various levels, in both executive and legislative
branches (see Figure 2). In 2008, Atut’s half-brother Tubagus Khaerul Jaman was elected as
Deputy Mayor of Serang City. In 2009, six members of the Rau Dynasty were elected in
legislative and executive elections in Banten.112 Atut’s late husband Hikmat Tomet was elected
as a member of the national legislative body (DPR) representing Golkar, and her son Andika
Hazrumy secured a position in the Regional Representative Assembly (DPD), a senate-like body
in the Indonesian parliament.113 Andika’s wife Ade Rossi Khaerunnisa was also elected as a
Member of Parliament (MP) of Serang city local parliament (DPRD II). Ade was not alone,
because Atut’s stepmother Ratna Komalasari (Haji Chasan’s sixth wife) was also elected as an
MP in the same parliament. Additionally, Abdul Aden Khaliq, Atut’s brother-in-law, was elected
as a member of Banten provincial legislature (DPRD I). Along with Abdul, Atut’s cousin Ratu
Ella Wurella was also elected as a legislator in the same parliament. Finally, another Atut’s
stepmother Heryani Yuhana (Haji Chasan’s fifth wife) was elected as an MP of Pandeglang
district DPRD II. In this election, they were nominated by Golkar, except for Andika
(nonpartisan) and Ratu Ella Wurella (PDIP).
110 Rakyat Merdeka Online (2006); The Ministry of Home Affairs (2006)
111 Recall that “Rau” is associated with the origin of Haji Chasan.
112 Pandeglang is one of the strongholds of Haji Chasan’s jawara network. In the gubernatorial election in 2006,
Atut-Masduki won 42.3 percent of the total votes in Pandeglang. See Masaaki and Hamid (2008, pp. 126, 131)
113 In the 2014 legislative election, Andika won a seat in DPR representing Golkar.
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Figure 2. Anatomy of the Rau Dynasty
Source: modified from Hamid (2014, p. 584)
Furthermore, the Rau Dynasty expanded and consolidated their domination in Serang
district, Tangerang city, and Serang city. In 2010, Atut’s sister Ratu Tatu Chasanah was elected
as the deputy regent of Serang district. In 2011, Airin Rachmi Diany (Atut’s sister-in-law) was
elected as the mayor of South Tangerang district.114 Finally, Atut’s brother who was the Deputy
Mayor of Serang City, Tubagus Haerul Jaman, won the 2013 mayoral election of Serang city and
became the mayor of the city. The family’s superiority continued in the 2014 legislative election
(see Table 2).
114 In 2008 Airin lost the Tangerang city mayoral election. In 2008 Tangerang was divided into two cities:
Tangerang and South Tangerang. Airin won the election in South Tangerang city in 2011.
Chasan
Sochib
(d. 2011)
Heryani
5th Wife
Deputy
Regent of
Pandeglang
(2011-2016)
Rapiah
Suhaemi
2nd Wife
Ratna
Komalasari
6th Wife
Member of
Serang City
DPRD
(2009-2014)
Wasiah
1st Wife
Hikmat
Tomet
(d. 2013)
Ratu Atut
Choisiyah
Governor of
Banten
(2007-2013)
Tubagus
Chaeri
Wardhana
(Wawan)
Ratu Tatu
Chasanah
Deputy
Regent of
Serang
(2010-2015)
Airin Rachmi
Diany
Mayor of S.
Tangerang
(2011-2016)
Tb. Khaerul
Jaman
Mayor of
Serang
(2013-
2018)
Lilis
Karyawati
Head of
Golkar
Branch of
Serang City
Aden Abdul
Khaliq
Member of
Banten
DPRD
(2009
2013)
Andika
Hazrumy
Member of
DPR
(2014-2019)
Ade Rossi
Khaerunissa
Member of
DPRD
Banten
(2014-
2019)
Andiara
Aprilia
Hikmat
Member of
DPD
(2014-2019)
Tanto W.
Arban
Member of
Banten
DPRD
(2014-
2019)
Ratu Ella Wurell a
Cousin of Ratu Atut
Member of Banten
DPRD (PDIP)
(2009-2014)
Male
Female
1st Incumbent
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Table 2. Formal Position of the Members of Rau Dynasty
Source: modified from Hamid (2014, p. 584)
All of them are members of and nominated by Golkar. Some of them hold important
positions within the party, both at the national and local levels. Atut herself was the deputy
treasurer from 2004-2009 and head of the Women Empowerment Division of Golkar from 2009-
2014. Her late husband Hikmat Tomet was the head of Golkar provincial branch from 2009-
Name
Family Relationship
Formal Position
Other Position
Haji Chasan Sochib
(died 2011)
Head of the family
(until 2011)
-
Head of Kadin Banten, Head
of Gapensi Banten, Head of
PPPSBI (all until 2011)
Heryani Yuhana
Haji Chasan’s fifth wife
Golkar MP in Pandeglang
DPRD (2009-2011)
Deputy regent of Pandeglang
(2011-2016)
-
Ratna Komalasari
Haji Chasan’s sixth wife
Golkar MP in Serang City
DPRD (2009-2014)
-
Ratu Atut Choisiyah
Haji Chasan’s daughter
Deputy Governor of Banten
(2001-2005)
Caretaker of Banten Provincial
Government (2005-2006)
Governor of Banten
(2006-2013)
-
Hikmat Tomet (died 2013)
Atut’s husband
Golkar MP in national
parliament (DPR)
(2009-2013)
Head of Golkar provincial
branch of Banten
(2009-2013)
Ratu Tatu Chasanah
Haji Chasan’s daughter
Deputy Regent of Serang (2010-
2015)
Head of Golkar provincial
branch of Banten
(2014-present)
Tubagus Chaeri Wardana (aka
Wawan)
Haji Chasan’s son; head of
the family since 2011
-
Head of Kadin Banten
Airin Rachmi Diany
Wawan’s wife
Mayor of South Tangerang
(2011-2016)
-
Tubagus Khaerul Jaman
Haji Chasan’s son
Deputy Mayor of Serang City
(2008-2013)
Mayor of Serang City
(2013-2018)
-
Lilis Karyawati
Haji Chasan’s daughter
-
Head of Golkar district
branch of Serang
Aden Abdul Khaliq
Lilis’ husband
Golkar MP in DPRD Banten
(2009-2013)
-
Andika Hazrumy
Atut’s son
Member of DPD
(2009-2014)
Golkar MP in DPR
(2014-2019)
-
Ade Rossi Khaerunissa
Andika’s wife
Golkar MP in Serang City
DPRD (2009-2014)
Golkar MP in Banten DPRD
(2014-2019)
-
Andiara Aprilia Hikmat
Atut’s daughter
Member of DPD (2014-2019)
-
Tanto W. Arban
Andiara’s husband
Golkar MP in Banten DPRD
(2014-2019)
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2013. When he died in 2013, the position was transferred to Ratu Tatu Chasanah (one of Atut’s
sisters). Additionally, another of Atut’s sisters, Lilis Karyawati, is the head of Golkar district
branch of Serang.
The Rau Dynasty and Golkar seem inseparable. On the one hand, Golkar needs the Rau
Dynasty to maintain the party’s domination in Banten. It is proven that total votes to members of
political dynasty can be extremely high. On the other hand, the Rau Dynasty needs Golkar as the
family’s political vehicle, particularly prior to the local direct election period. Members of the
family do not necessarily need Golkar as their party machinery, but they need the party to fulfill
administrative requirements for the local elections.
Despite the formal positions held by Atut and her family members, the real power holder
is not Atut. When he was alive, it was Chasan Sochib who made all the important decisions,
including for coordinating the jawara, distributing development project contracts, and deciding
promotions within the bureaucracy. When Chasan died in 2011, the de facto position of power
holder was transferred to his son Tubagus Chaeri Wardhana (Wawan; Atut’s brother).115 Wawan
also inherited the position as the head of local Kadin from his father.
Analysis of the Rau Dynasty’s victory
By looking at the pattern in Table 2, the Rau Dynasty dominates the politics in four
districts/municipalities, including: Serang city, Serang district, South Tangerang, and
Pandeglang.116 These areas are the backbone of electoral support for Atut and her family
115 Tempo (2011, pp. 12-15)
116 The dynasty failed to capture elected office in Lebak, Tangerang district, Tangerang city, and Cilegon. Initially,
Pandeglang was under control of Dimyati Natakusumah, the district regent from 2000 to 2009. In 2009, however,
Dimyati was implicated in a corruption case and acquitted only in October 2011. The case that implicated Dimyati
was heavily impacted his wife Irna Narulita’s nomination in the 2010 direct local election in Pandeglang. As a
consequence, Irna was able to secure only 41.27 percent of the total vote and lost from the pair of Erwan Kurtubi-
Heryani (Atut’s stepmother), with 49.62 percent.
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members. The family’s domination in these areas is not surprising; three factors explain the
superiority of the Rau Dynasty. First, these areas are under the control of the jawara. It has been
reported that opposition candidates, supporters of the opposition, officials of the local election
management body, and local bureaucracy who did not support family members of the Rau
Dynasty have received various forms of intimidation by unknown parties, allegedly the jawara.
For instance, one of the competing candidates in the 2011 gubernatorial election, Wahidin
Halim, received an intimidating letter from Atut’s father Haji Chasan and was attacked by
unknown men when he was in his car.117
Second, financial backup has played a crucial role in supporting Atut’s winning election.
Based on Atut’s official report to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2006, the
governor’s wealth was Rp. 41.9 billion (US$ 3.2 million).118 In addition, the late Atut’s late
husband owned Rp. 33.8 billion (US$ 2.57 million), while Atut’s son Andika Hazrumy owns Rp.
19.6 billion (US$ 1.49 million).119 The reported amounts, however, are allegedly much smaller
than what the family really owns. To avoid KPK’s suspicion, most of the money that came from
illegal sources goes to Atut’s brother Wawan. Wawan acts like a Chief Financial and Operating
Officer, where he manages the collection and distribution of the family’s wealth. It is difficult to
get the actual data on how many assets that Wawan owns because he is not a public official and
thus does not have to report his assets to the KPK. To illustrate, based on KPK’s raid on
Wawan’s house, the Agency found two Ferraris, a Lamborghini Aventador, a Nissan GTR, a
117 The Indonesian Constitutional Court (2011, pp. 10, 23)
118 JPNN.com (2013)
119 Vivanews (2013)
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Bentley, and 200 land-ownership certificates.120 This family is extremely richer than most of the
Bantenese population whose total spending was about Rp. 828.735 (US$ 63) per month.121
Allegedly, most of the family’s wealth was generated from illegal sources. As mentioned
earlier, the Rau Dynasty has an informal monopoly over government projects in Banten. A
preliminary finding by the ICW and Banten Transparency Society (MTB) found that the Rau
Dynasty managed to secure 175 government projects worth IDR 1.148 trillion (approximately
US$ 88.3 million).122 These projects were distributed to at least ten companies owned by the Rau
Dynasty and 24 companies owned by Atut’s cronies.123
Additionally, Atut’s position as an incumbent has provided her with more flexibility than
her competitors. She controls a Rp. 6.052 trillion (US$ 461 million) provincial government
budget. She is not only able to distribute government projects to her family firms, but as a
governor she also has the flexibility to illegally exploit the state budget to support her campaign,
through preferential aid allocation directed to various social organizations under the Rau
Dynasty’s patronage (see Table 3). Allegedly, most of the money from these various social aid
programs was used to finance Atut’s campaign.124 With the family’s wealth and the ability to
manipulate the government budget, it is easy for the dynasty to finance the campaigns of its
family members. The family wealth is particularly useful for securing support from political
parties and financing the campaign operation of Atut and her family members, including for vote
buying and other illegal methods.
120 Vivanews (2013)
121 Based on 2013 data, retrieved from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) of Banten Province (2015)
122 Berita Satu (2013)
123 Kompas (2013c)
124 Liputan 6 (2015); Suara Pembaruan (2015)
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Table 3. Allocation of Provincial Budget to Some Social Organizations
Under the Control of the Rau Dynasty
Member of the Rau Dynasty
Organization
Provincial Budget Allocation
Ratu Tatu Chasanah
The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI)
Banten Chapter; the Integrated
Health Service (Posyandu) Forum
Banten Chapter; National Movement
for Social Welfare (GNKS) Banten
Chapter
Rp. 7.5 billion (US$ 572.725)
Tubagus Chaeri Wardhana
The Indonesian Chamber of
Commerce (Kadin) Banten Chapter
Rp. 9 billion (US$ 688.315)
Andika Hazrumy
Disaster Preparedness Cadets
(Tagana) Banten Chapter; Youth
Group (Karang Taruna) Banten
Chapter
Rp. 10 billion (US$ 763.452)
Adde Rossi Khaerunissa
Himpaudi Banten Chapter; BKOW
Banten Chapter; P2TP2A Banten
Chapter
Rp. 5.6 billion (US$ 428.220)
Unknown, but related to the Rau
Dynasty
Majelis Taklim Al-Choisiyah;
Darussolichin Foundation; Welfare
Charity Foundation
Rp. 6.6 billion (US$ 504.233)
Source: Tempo.co (2013a, 2013b)
According to Levitsky and Way (2010, p. 28), this kind of organized corruption
represents the importance of informal institutions in competitive authoritarianism. Informal
institutions become a vital feature of competitive authoritarianism because the incumbent is
unable to achieve his/her objective (for instance, raising money for an election campaign)
through formal mechanisms, and changing the rules of the game is practically impossible due to
the existence of a more superior law that regulates the limits of donations in elections. Moreover,
the organized corruption by the Rau Dynasty signifies the disparity of access to resources by the
incumbent that can “seriously hinder the opposition’s ability to compete.”125
Third, Atut’s status as an incumbent has helped her to manipulate the playing field to
support her winning. Based on the Indonesian Constitutional Court (MK) proceeding related to
gubernatorial election in Banten, the incumbent has been charged of conducting a “massive,
systematic and structured” electoral manipulation. The accusations include: manipulation of the
125 Levitsky and Way (2010, pp. 9-11)
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voters’ list by the local election management body (KPUD); an implicit message from KPUD to
support the incumbent; manipulation of the vote counting software; partisanship of local
bureaucrats; misuse of government facilities; partisanship by the local election supervisory body
(Panwaslu), and many more. MK proved that some of these accusations were valid.126 MK did
not find, however, that the putative manipulation was “massive, systematic, and structured,” the
prerequisite to cancel the election result. By using this loophole, Atut and her team were still able
to win the election.
These findings show that the incumbent was able to manipulate the playing field to
support her campaign. She faced tough competition from her competitors and won the election
with less than a ten percent margin. Nonetheless, by manipulating the playing field, the
incumbent was able to secure her victory against her competitors. As argued by Levitsky and
Way (2010), a competitive authoritarianism is marked by a “meaningful competition” but the
playing field is uneven. The unevenness seriously undermines the opposition’s competitiveness
in the election.
The strategy of manipulating the playing field is also indicated in the victory of Atut’s
family members, particularly those who have won the executive local elections.127 For example,
in the 2010 South Tangerang election, the opposition charged that there was a sudden and
systematic reorganizing of local public officials by the provincial government directed at
supporting the governor’s sister-in-law (Airin) in the election. The reorganization was part of the
elections strategy to smoothe Airin’s chance to occupy the leadership in South Tangerang.
Additionally, in many provincial governmental events, Airin was included as an official guest at
126 The Indonesian Constitutional Court (2011)
127 This paper has not yet found data on electoral manipulation in legislative elections involving Atut’s family
members.
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which she could subtly promote herself as a candidate in the upcoming election and coordinate
with local officials. Airin was also able to install her campaign materials and conduct meetings
with her campaign team on government premises. In short, government officials were
systematically mobilized and government facilities were misused to support Airin’s campaign.
Furthermore, the opposition found a strong indication that the integrity of the local electoral
management body was compromised by favoring Airin in the election. Finally, the opposition
also accused Airin of using money politics to support her campaign.
These kinds of accusation were limited not only to Airin. Similar manipulations also
occured in other places where family members of Atut competed, including in Serang district
and Serang municipality, as well as in Pandeglang district. Nevertheless, as with other electoral
manipulations, it is difficult for law enforcement agencies and the Court to prove a direct
connection between the governor’s support and the success of her family members in local direct
elections due to various reasons such as lack of evidence and limited capacity of the state
apparatuses to investigate the manipulations. The difficulty in proving a direct connection allows
members of political dynasties to keep manipulating elections. Additionally, in cases where the
Court found electoral manipulations, there were no strong punishments to the perpetrators. More
importantly, as shown below, when the Court’s integrity is compromised, proving electoral
manipulation by members of political dynasties becomes even more difficult.
Finally, the success of Atut’s relatives in the district-level direct elections and legislative
elections helped Atut to further strengthen her power, particularly during her reelection
campaign. She won her reelection with 49.65 percent of the total votes. The opposition charged
that in areas where Atut’s relatives held official positions, there were systematic and structured
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electoral manipulations such as violent and non-violent intimidations, kidnapping, money
politics, collusion with local KPUD, and mobilization of local state apparatuses.128
These irregularities show that Atut’s family networks operate in two ways in
consolidating and expanding the family’s power base. First, as incumbent, Atut has the ability to
help her family members who seek office at the district level. By utilizing provincial state
apparatuses, public facilities, and possibly public funding, the governor helped her family
members during the campaign period. Second, after these family members won the local
election, in return they helped Atut to further strengthen her political power to win the reelection
campaign by mobilizing the state apparatuses at the district level as well as using public facilities
and public funding.129 Controlling district-level government is particularly important because, as
previously mentioned, executive leaders at this level have more power to control district-level
state apparatuses, to appropriate the state budget, and to generate more rents (legal and illegal)
for their personal interests. The aggregate of these processes is self-perpetuation of power by the
Rau Dynasty, where Atut’s power produces more power to the family. This is an example of
power-begets-power as coined by Dal Bó, Dal Bó, and Snyder (2009).
The limit of dynastic consolidation and expansion
Despite dynastic domination in subnational politics, apparently there is a limit on
political dynasties’ power to consolidate and to expand their territorial supremacy. This paper
argues that dynastic consolidation and expansion depend on a dynasty’s ability to fully exploit
informal family networks, to accumulate material wealth, and eventually to manipulate the
playing field in order to provide electoral advantages for family members. It is worth noting that
128 The Indonesian Constitutional Court (2011)
129 Additional data on total votes recapitulation per district are needed to strengthen this claim.
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in several areas, a political dynasty’s ability to fully exercise its power also may be limited by the
existence of other political dynasties. Finally, dynastic consolidation and expansion may also be
limited when political actors and authorities at the national level intervene or impose a new
regulation that reduces the opportunity for local dynastic politicians to compete in subnational
elections.
Regarding the ability to exploit informal family networks fully, examples from two
districts in Banten shed some light on the limitation of the Rau Dynasty’s family networks. Two
members of the Rau Dynasty have attempted to capture the office of the regent of Tangerang
District in 2008 and 2012. A sister-in-law of Atut, Airin Rachmi Diany (now mayor of South
Tangerang), initially lost against the incumbent Ismet Iskandar, in 2008. Nonetheless, the Rau
Dynasty, through Airin, was later able to capture the regional office in the Tangerang area after
the district was divided into two subnational administrations—Tangerang District and South
Tangerang Municipality. In a subsequent election in Tangerang District, Ismet’s son, Ahmed
Zaki Iskandar, defeated Atut’s brother-in-law Aden Abdul Khalik, signifying another loss for the
Rau Dynasty. The Iskandar family’s superiority in Tangerang obstructed the Rau Dynasty’s
ambition to expand its power base in Banten Province. In this district, the Iskandar family was
able to exercise effective “border control” because the district head had more access to local
bureaucracy and the local budget which prevented the Rau Dynasty from penetrating this area.130
The power of the Rau Dynasty was also in jeopardy when the Corruption Eradication
Commission (KPK) arrested Atut and Wawan in 2013 for their involvement in a bribery case
which also implicated the then Constitutional Court Justice Akil Mochtar. KPK arrested them for
conspiring to manipulate the Court’s ruling in one district-level election in Banten. Atut and
130 Ismet Iskandar was implicated in a corruption case regarding the procurement of a firefighter mobile unit in
2003. This case, however, never got into the Court (Sindonews, 2012)
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Wawan were sentenced to jail for seven and five years respectively. Furthermore, this case
revealed that Atut and Wawan were implicated in various other corruption cases in Banten,
particularly regarding procurement in health facilities. Some of the cases took place in Atut’s
jurisdiction (Banten) and in Wawan’s wife Airin’ jurisdiction (South Tangerang).131
Atut’s and Wawan’s involvement in this corruption saga is significant in two ways. First,
it proves that dynastic networks can be used by political elites to accumulate wealth by tapping
state resources via various methods such as government project allocation. The money they
receive from this process may be used to support the consolidation and expansion of the family’s
territorial control. Second, continuation of a political dynasty might be threatened when a
national-level agency intervenes in local issues, potentially disrupting the balance of power at the
subnational level (but not automatically leads to a regime change). In this context, this paper
shows that the power of local dynasty to control its territory is not unlimited.
These limitations, in part, may explain why some political families in some regions
succeed to build and to maintain their dynastic domination, while others fail. If a very strong
family like the Rau Dynasty is unable to overcome the enormous challenges that limit their
ability to consolidate and expand their power, then it is understandable why other political
families or incumbents with smaller resources tend to be less successful in building and
expanding their own political dynasties. This explanation, however, is not yet complete. There
are many other potential explanatory variables that may present a better understanding about
why political dynasties occur in some places and not in others.
131 Others of Atut’s relatives, Lilis Karyawati and John Chaidir, were also implicated in various corruption cases in
Banten (Merdeka, 2013).
Arryman Fellow Research Paper
47
5. Conclusion and Future Direction
This analysis has shed some light on what causes political dynasty, how incumbents build
political dynasty, and what are the limits on dynastic expansion and consolidation. Institutional
changes that give more power to the regional leaders and the introduction of direct local election
provide an arena for local elites to capture public office and to consolidate and expand their
power base by utilizing the family networks. Informal family networks, material wealth, and the
ability to make the playing field uneven are important for politicians’ capacity to build their
dynasties. Additionally, the ability of the local political dynasties to prevent
"unfortunate" intervention by central authorities (parties and government agencies) play an
important role for dynastic expansion and consolidation.
The case study of this paper shows that the Rau Dynasty is able to dominate local politics
in Banten precisely because the dynasty can tilt the playing field by exploiting the family
networks and material wealth to support the incumbent’s relatives. The ability of the Rau
Dynasty to self-perpetuate its power relies on informal “menu of manipulation,” rather than its
brand name advantage. Additionally, this paper shows that dynastic consolidation and expansion
of the Rau Dynasty and the ability to control its territory is not unlimited. The existence of other
political dynasties and the intervention from national political actors and central authorities may
hinder the family’s ambition to multiply its power bases.
The arguments of this paper, however, need to be tested with more cases. Other areas that
show dynastic prevalence, such as South Sulawesi, South Sumatera, and Central Kalimantan,
would be good places to further test the argument of this paper. Cross-country and cross-region
comparisons would also be beneficial for further strengthening the current argument.
Arryman Fellow Research Paper
48
Additionally, this paper only partially reveals why dynasties exist in some places and not
in others. More research is required to answer this question. An incumbent’s political ambition
may be a plausible hypothesis worth exploration. It is premature to conclude that all politicians
want to build political dynasties; some incumbents may not be interested in building political
dynasties after they finish their term limits. Additionally, using the rentier theory in explaining
dynastic variance across the subnational level is also worth exploration.132 It is too early to say
that areas with natural resources are more prone to dynastic capture. Initial observation suggests
that political dynasties may occur in resource-rich areas like Kutai Kartanegara and in areas that
lack natural resources such as Bantul.
Another promising line of research is investigating why citizens vote for dynastic
politicians. This paper’s arguments imply that the ability of a political dynasty to skew the
playing field might also be influential in shaping voter preferences, regardless of the reputation
of a political dynasty. Nevertheless, arguments proposing that cultural factors play an important
role in shaping voter preference toward a particular family are also worth investigation. In short,
there is room for further exploration to obtain a more complete picture of the rise of political
dynasties in consolidating democracies. ***
132 See for example Gervasoni (2010b)
Arryman Fellow Research Paper
49
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... Democratic elements-such as competitive elections, respect for civil liberties, and actors' commitment to democracy as the only viable channels for political transition [1]. Democratization should be understood not solely as a national-level phenomenon, [2] has been argued that each country has a varying degree of democratic contestation and inclusiveness even in national and subnational level for state and also in the social organizational levels. ...
... In Indonesia, the fall of Suharto in 1998 has led to various institutional changes and remodeling the relationship between central and regional government. In a very short period of time, Indonesia has been remodeled from very centralized to one of the most decentralized countries in the world [1]. In the period of 1999-2004, the rule of law number 22/1999 has been order that the local head of government (governor and regent/ mayor) was selected by the local DPRD. ...
... The superior power of the DPRD to elect the local government had bring another problem like money politics, less of accountability to people and lack of legitimacy to local government. In 2004, to improve the accountability and the legitimacy of the local leaders, the Megawati administration introduced direct local elections for head of government at the provincial and district/ municipal levels by the rule of law number 32/2004 [1]. ...
... Money politics is one of the impacts of the existence of the existing political elite because they have more economic resources. A political dynasty will strengthen its role with the economic resources it has so that family interests that have been owned do not shift to others (Kenawas, 2015). Raharjo (2018) tries to investigate the symptoms of the formation of political dynasties that are increasingly being found in Indonesia, as recorded in the Kompas.com ...
... At the local level, democracy is sometimes only focused on government institutions. According to Kenawas (2015) democracy contains four elements: 1) political participation competition, 2) political recruitment competition, 3) executive recruitment openness, and 4) challenges faced by the executive. This opinion should also include other dimensions, because the existence of the executive in the regions cannot be separated from the process and results of elections that involve a number of political actors. ...
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The presence of political dynasties in power struggles from regional to national level is inseparable from the role of political parties and the regulation of the regional head elections. Oligarchy on the body of a political party can be seen from the tendency of candidates nominating by political parties based more on the wishes of party elites, not through democratic mechanisms by considering the ability and integrity of the candidates. Simultaneously, political dynasties continue to establish solid networks of power so they can dominate and kill democracy within political parties. In the context of society, there is also an effort to maintain the status quo in the region by encouraging families or people close to the head of the region to replace the incumbent. Weak regulation to trim political dynasties has contributed to the widespread political dynasty in the regional head elections. The practice of dynastic politics is also suspected to make the weakness of checks and balances function to the effect of corruption acts committed by the head of the region and their relatives. The regional head elections system is new, but the old faces that are nothing but the continuity of the political dynasty characterize this Pilkada event which is feared could threaten the phase of democratic transition towards consolidation of democracy.
... The increase in the number of regional heads tied to political dynasties is not without reason. There are several political factors that can explain how political dynasties emerge, as stated by Yoes C. Kenawas in The Rises Of Political Dynasti in Social Society: (1) political parties tend to choose popular candidates in order to increase their popularity and increase the possibility of winning the regional head elections; (2) the selected candidate is a candidate with access to resources such as money, either as a 'political dowry' or funds that will be used for running political campaigns ahead of the election (Kenawa, 2015). Consequently, political recruitment in a political party prioritizes families and descendants of government officials. ...
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This research aims at breaking down the dynamics of dynastic politics after the 2020 simultaneous general election and the dynamics between the nomination of regional heads and dynastic politics following the issuance of the Constitutional Court decision no. 33/PUU-XIII/2005. The research found that this local politics phenomenon is triggered by the policy on regional autonomy and decentralization after reformation in bringing about new groups with family ties at local levels who occupy positions in the government. Going by the excuses of freedom and human rights, the groups in this dynastic politics have seen a gradual increase in quantity overtime. This increase happened after the Constitutional Court decision no. 33/PUU-XIII/2015 ruled in their favour. In the ruling, the Court took human rights into their main consideration for reversing the ruling against the ban on the dynastic politics law, which in Article 7 (r) UU 1/2015 may give the impression that the right to political participation is removed.
... Political dynasties have long been present in democracies (Dal Bó E, 2009). (Kenawas Y, 2015); (Barkov S, Et.al., 2020). ...
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An information system is absolutely necessary in making logical decisions so that the policies developed are in accordance with the applicable law. This article discusses political dynasties from state constitutional law and human rights, whether constitutional or unconstitutional. This article uses a normative research method, which examines the law, the state constitution, and the Constitutional Court decisions related to political dynasties in the implementation of general elections. Political dynasties are a familiar thing in organizing general elections; political dynasties certainly reap the pros and cons. Still, as a legal state, Indonesia must also provide legal certainty regarding how the law views political dynasties. Basically, in this study, based on the rule of law and the state constitution, political dynasties are not unconstitutional; political dynasties do not violate the state constitution; with the prohibition on political dynasties, it is an unconstitutional act and violates human rights. The provisions of the Law on Human Rights prohibit the existence of political dynasties that do not prioritize human rights values, which are regulated in the Law on Human Rights; provide legal protection for every citizen has the right to vote and be elected in general elections. And stated firmly that political dynasties are prohibited, because they are not in line with the constitution and also the values of human rights.
... • Direct election (Kenawas, 2015;Purwaningsih, 2015) • the poor institutionalization of political parties in political recruitment (Purwaningsih&Subekti, 2017) ...
Presentation
This presentation is about research on political dynasties in Indonesia. Studies in a broad scope have led us to the assumption that political dynasties have beneficial resources in elections. However, can political dynasties always strive in local politics in Indonesia? This research argues that, in addition to local oppositions and problems faced by a political family, the involvement of national political elites can be a competitive obstacle for political dynasties to maintain their power in local politics. Political dynasties can be at risk when national political elites (1) form coalitions with local opposition or (2) participate in a local political contestation. I found, in the 2018 South Sulawesi Regional Election, three findings that support this argument. First, the political power of the Yasin Limpo family weakened, both before and during the election. Second, the local conflict in South Sulawesi attracted national political elites’ attention and led them to get involved in the Regional Election. Third, the distribution of capital after the national political elites’ involvement intensified the elites’ competition in the Regional Election.
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In contrast to accounts that explain increases in women’s political representation by reference to structural and institutional factors, this article draws attention to the agency of women candidates. The number of women elected in the Eastern Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara ( Nusa Tenggara Timur, NTT) increased markedly in 2019. To explain this increase, this article highlights the remarkable persistence of women candidates, many of whom succeeded in 2019 only after competing in multiple prior elections, slowly building their personal political skills and reputations. The article also draws attention to the effects of positive female role models – showing how a female candidate in a gubernatorial race inspired other women politicians – and the positive effects that can arise from co-operation among women candidates. It shows that, despite the emphasis on male dominance and dynastic power in much of the literature on Indonesian politics, there are still pathways to power for women with origins in the grassroots.
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Artikel ini mengeksplorasi praktek dinasti politik di Sulawesi Tenggara. Pemilu yang semestinya merupakan kontestasi demokrasi yang sehat, justru menjadi ajang para elit lokal di Sulawesi Tenggara untuk membangun dan memperkuat dinasti politik sejak Pemilu 2014. Para anggota legislatif terpilih pada Pemilu 2019 di Sulawesi Tenggara banyak berasal dari keluarga politik—keluarga bupati, walikota dan ketua partai. Sebanyak sepuluh kepala daerah dari tujuh belas kabupaten/kota di Sulawesi Tenggara, sukses meloloskan keluarga mereka sebagai anggota legislatif mulai dari DPRD Kabupaten/Kota, DPRD Provinsi, hingga DPR dan DPD. Keterpilihan kerabat elit politik lokal ini menjadi ancaman dalam mewujudkan demokrasi yang subtansial, kompetitif dan berkualitas. Pengumpulan data dalam penelitian ini menggunakan studi kepustakaan dan pengamatan. Hasil penelitian ditemukan, dinasti politik berkembang di Sulawesi Tenggara dalam dua model yaitu dinasti yang tumbuh dari keluarga governing elite dan keluarga non governing elite. Keberadaan dinasti politik ini ditopang oleh empat hal: pertama, pragmatisme dan praktek oligarki partai politik; kedua, tumbuh suburnya politik uang dan politisasi birokrasi; ketiga, lemahnya pengawasaan Bawaslu dan jajarannya; keempat, budaya politik yang kolutif dan paternalistik.
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During the 1990s, international democracy promotion efforts led to the establishment of numerous regimes that cannot be easily classified as either authoritarian or democratic. They display characteristics of each, in short they are semi-authoritarian regimes. These regimes pose a considerable challenge to U.S. policymakers because the superficial stability of many semi-authoritarian regimes usually masks severe problems that need to be solved lest they lead to a future crisis. Additionally, these regimes call into question some of the ideas about democratic transitions that underpin the democracy promotion strategies of the United States and other Western countries. Despite their growing importance, semi-authoritarian regimes have not received systematic attention. Marina Ottaway examines five countries (Egypt, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Croatia, and Senegal) which highlight the distinctive features of semi-authoritarianism and the special challenge each poses to policymakers. She explains why the dominant approach to democracy promotion isn't effective in these countries and concludes by suggesting alternative policies. Marina Ottaway is senior associate and codirector of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment. © 2003 Carnegie Endowmentfor International Peace. All rights reserved.
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In many democracies a small subset of individuals enjoys a de facto electoral advantage. The existence of political dynasties, where individuals from a narrow set of families obtain larger vote shares and are more likely to access office, illustrates this phenomenon. In this paper, I study political dynasties in the Philippines and provide evidence of dynastic persistence. More precisely, I provide evidence that incumbency has a causal effect on the probability of having future relatives in office. Using a regression discontinuity design based on close elections, I find that candidates who barely win their first election by a small margin are around 5 times more likely to have a relative in office in the future than individuals who barely lose their first election and never serve. I discuss alternative channels that may explain dynastic persistence in the Philippines. I argue that access to office and public resources — important in clientelistic democracies like the Philippines — allows incumbents to give relatives an electoral advantage if they first run while they are still in office. Occupational choice, while plausibly important, is less likely to be the main driver of dynastic persistence.
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This article discusses the 2014 presidential elections in Indonesia, which saw a strong populist challenge launched against the country’s young democracy. Prabowo Subianto, the former son-in-law of longtime autocrat Suharto, promised to roll back many of the democratic reforms of the last 15 years. Prabowo came within a hair’s breadth of winning the presidency, but ultimately lost out to Joko Widodo, a political newcomer from Central Java. The article evaluates what Widodo’s victory (and Prabowo’s strong campaign) tell us about the state of Indonesian democracy, and about the challenges that Widodo will face in leading Indonesia into the next phase of democratic strengthening.
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As a part of a larger study of Louisiana's political families from statehood to the present, this article seeks to demonstrate that the family influence on political recruitment is not just an historical phenomenon but a current reality. Over one-fourth of 785 state and parish officials in office in 1983 were found to have at least one officeholding relative. One-half of these 209 leaders had two or more kinsmen in office at some time, and almost one-third “inherited” their position from a relative. The article analyzes the structure of these families (size, generations, kinship connections), successions, and kinship networks. The last topic, networks, delineates the connections between and among families with 1983 officials and other families whose political experience occurred before 1983. The largest of the networks includes twenty-two families with 107 officials from several states. A principal conclusion is that the family continues to exert considerable influence on its members’ decision to enter the political arena. Evidence is presented indicating that Louisiana is not unique in this regard.