First, we sought to examine the modes of campaigning employed by these candidates and what these tell us about rural elites. We found pervasive vote buying, and provide detailed evidence that such patronage politics means that only the wealthiest villagers can compete for office. However, we also show that money politics does not make these elections uncompetitive, and that villagers evaluate candidates according to a range of other criteria. Second, we examined links with higher state officials, showing that these remain important for rural elite formation, with one key to political success being elites’ ability to obtain projects for their village from higher government offices.
However, the nature of these linkages has changed. Rather than being incorporated as subordinates in a hierarchical bureaucratic structure, village elites are now akin to true rural brokers, and they have considerable leverage in their relations with higher authorities. Thus, while we find continuities in patterns of rural elite power, the modes through which that power is exercised have changed significantly.
Edward Aspinall (Australian National University, Canberra) is a specialist of the politics of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. His current research interests include ongoing research on Indonesian national politics and democratisa-tion, as well as a comparative project on peace processes in the Asia-Pacific.