The Political Geography of Voters and Political Participation: Evidence from Local Election in Suburban Indonesia

By Yandri, Pitri | The Indonesian Journal of Geography, June 2017 | Go to article overview

The Political Geography of Voters and Political Participation: Evidence from Local Election in Suburban Indonesia


Yandri, Pitri, The Indonesian Journal of Geography


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1.Introduction

Currently, Indonesia is known as one of the most liberal democracy countries in the world [Anwar, 2010], and in Southeast Asia as well, apart from Timor-Leste and the Philippines [Peou, 2014]. Therefore, what is a liberal democracy? Bollen [1993] tries to compile it into the following parameters: freedom of broadcast and freedom of print media, civil liberties, freedom of group opposition, political rights, competitiveness of nomination process, a chief executive elected, and effectiveness oflegislative body. However, Plattner [2010] states that the definition has a complexity. Nevertheless, Carter and Stokes [2002] provide a straightforward model for the basic elements of a liberal democracy. One of these elements includes a government accountable to its citizens by means of regular elections. Additionally, there should be a parliament that can exercise control over the government, and all this happens within a framework of the rule of law, and individual freedom that allows popular participation by means of free debate, freedom of association and the right to protest.

In the effort to concretize the academic discourse, Freedom House [2008] then introduces five categories that can be aggregated into Democracy Index: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture. Afterwards, the Indonesia Government then compiles since 2009 its own Democracy Index, which consists of three indicators: civil liberty, political rights and institution of democracy [Rauf et al, 2011].

In the case of Indonesia Democracy Index, although it is still categorized as a flawed democracy- rank 49 with performance value of 7.03 [The Economist, 2015]-the performance was rated better than countries in Southeast Asia, and even better than in 2014 with a value of 6.95 [The Economist, 2014]. Nevertheless, political scientists believe that democracy in Indonesia is still an electoral-procedural [Hadiz, 2004; Slater, 2006; Abdulbaki, 2008; and Soebagio, 2009]. In many aspects it is often counterproductive to the spirit of democracy [Ida, 2014] and it causes backwardness because it is not supported by strong democratic institutions [Hillman, 2011].

However, the deep and sharp academic debate simultaneously shows that scientists' attention to the situation of democracy in Indonesia is still preoccupied with micro-electoral democracy issues [Darmoval, 2006]. It also happens in an instant analysis of political scientists during the selection process, as carried out by a number of quick surveys with the support of national televisions.

Tragically, scientific discourse and empirical studies of geographic democracy in Indonesia apparently has not received serious attention. Their analysis focuses only on the voice and participation of voters, without concerning themselves with aspects of geographic space. In this case, theoretically O'Loughlin [2003] expresses the need to enter and even integrate spatial analysis in political science to this context; an explanatory analysis equipment to reduce deficiencies in the micro analysis is urgently needed. That fact motivates Darmoval [2006] to believe that macro level perspective can give more attention to the issue of the political dimensions of political participation. With that in mind, the perspective describes at the same time the collective responsibility of the actors in the process of electoral democracy, the political elite and citizens, as well as the quality of democracy itself.

Moreover Darmoval [2006] explains that the benefits of macro-level approach in investigating the voter turnout are important in the context of democratic development, especially its geographical implications. Cox [2002] states that political geography is concerned in territory, state, social, cultural and people who are in the scope of the territory. For others, political geography is the study of political process, differing from political science only in the emphasis given to geographical influences and outcomes, as well as in the application of spatial analysis techniques [Kasperson and Mingi, 1969; Burnett and Taylor, 1981] in Jones, et al [2004]. …

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