Blog: ‘Indonesia’s bureaucracy is a campaign tool—but not for the president’

Blog by Ward Berenschot on the big role of bureaucrats in Indonesian election campaigns –

Indonesia’s home affairs minister, Tjahjo Kumolo, made quite some headlines last month when he suggested that Indonesia’s civil servants could “socialise” government programs during Indonesia’s current election season. He did hasten to add that civil servants should remain “neutral” and avoid taking sides for either incumbent president Joko Widodo or his challenger Prabowo Subianto. Yet Tjahjo’s pronouncement was met with anger from Prabowo supporters. They felt that any publicisation of government programs would give Joko Widodo an unfair advantage. Tjahjo’s comments fed into a long-standing fear that incumbent politicians use bureaucrats to canvass on their behalf. This would advantage the president, as a challenger like Prabowo does not have a structural connection with local bureaucracies.

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Photo: Jokowi with civil service corps (KORPRI) leadership, Istana Merdeka, 29 February 2019. By Kemensetneg on facebook.

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