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Oligarchy and Democracy in Indonesia

Jeffrey A. Winters
No. 96, Special Issue: Wealth, Power, and Contemporary Indonesian Politics (October 2013), pp. 11-33
DOI: 10.5728/indonesia.96.0099
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Page Count: 23
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Oligarchy and Democracy in Indonesia
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Winters examines the impact of oligarchic power on Indonesia's political economy. Defining oligarchs materially, he argues that extreme inequality in wealth among citizens necessarily leads to extreme political inequalities. Central to this approach is the changing politics of wealth defense by oligarchs spanning the Sukarno era, the New Order, and the electoral—democratic period since 1998. He emphasizes that the power of oligarchs in Indonesia is especially dominant and distorting because the country's legal infrastructure is debilitated, and because organization and mobilization among other actors in civil society is weak. Particular attention is paid to oligarchic influence in Indonesia's media.

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