Australia Awards in Indonesia

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21 Apr 2016

Reform Movements and Local Politics in Indonesia

Luky Djuniardi Djani, 2013
Murdoch University

This thesis analyses the factors that have shaped conflicts over corruption in post-Suharto Indonesia and the processes by which corruption has been contained or entrenched. Contrary to mainstream theories it is argued here that institutional reforms in themselves are not sufficient factors in transforming behaviour or incentives for corruption. Most important, democratic reforms and decentralization programs introduced in the aftermath of the political reformasi do not in themselves results either in the containment of corruption or its continued entrenchment. Nor, it is proposed, institutional reforms in public administration and governance the decisive factors.

Rather, it is argued here that the success or failure of reformist movements is contingent upon a range of factors that influence the relative power of contending alliances involved in the conflicts over corruption. Among these factors, it is argued that the following are critical. One is the degree to which interests and coalitions that dominate government are able to secure a degree of monopoly over access to resources and revenues. This can provide decisive economic and political leverage in their attempts to protect predatory forms of authority against reformers. A second factor is related to the way such interests distribute public resources and budgetary expenditure and how effectively these consolidate social and political support. The third factor is related to the ability of reformers to build political alliances and coalitions. These may not always include opponents of corruption or the institutions of clientalism but may include some of those currently excluded from the existing benefits of corruption.

Using four case studies, the thesis examines how these factors influence the resolution of specific conflicts between reformers and incumbents. The four cases are selected to represent different ways in which elites are able to exert control over resources and how they distribute them as well as different patterns of reformist alliances. In other words, the thesis presents an argument that corruption reform is decided, not in the design and construction of institutions but in the context of constant struggles over power and how it is organised and resources are distributed.

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