Publication | Report/Paper

Money Politics: Regulation of Political Finance in Indonesia, 1999


Indonesia's transition to an open and multi-party democracy is burdened by the legacy of widespread corruption that supported the prior authoritarian one-party rule. Indonesians call the broad issue of corrupting influences upon government "money politics." This term encompasses more than the giving of financial aid to candidates and parties during election campaigns. The expression includes the actual buying of voter support during elections, the less direct exchange of favorable government benefits or treatment for political support and the direct bribing of government officials throughout the processes of administration and governance.

Therefore, to analyze "money politics" in Indonesia, it is first necessary to distinguish separate manifestations of corruption or improper influence upon the political process, while recognizing their interrelationship. It is then possible to consider particular means for control and deterrence of each element. Some practices within the larger meaning of "money politics" are difficult to control by regulation, such as inherent advantages of incumbent public officials who can make promises or initiate policy or public works projects favored by the public. More direct forms of money's influence upon politics can be subject to administrative regulation or criminal sanction, or can at least be made more transparent and subject to political constraints.

The focus of this report is regulation of political finance in elections in Indonesia. At the outset, however, IFES notes the closely related issues of both election-related bribery and ethics rules for public officials.