Are political parties the weak link in Indonesia’s young democracy? More pointedly, do they form a giant cartel to suck patronage resources from the state? Indonesian commentators almost invariably brand the country’s parties as corrupt, self-absorbed, and elitist, while most scholars argue that they are poorly institutionalized. This book tests such assertions by providing unprecedented and fine-grained analysis of the inner workings of Indonesian parties, and by comparing them to their equivalents in other new democracies around the world. Contrary to much of the existing scholarship, the book finds that Indonesian parties are reasonably well institutionalized if compared to their counterparts in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and other parts of Asia. There is also little evidence that Indonesian parties are cartelized. But there is a significant flaw in the design of Indonesia’s party system: while most new democracies provide state funding to parties, Indonesia has opted to deny central party boards any meaningful subsidies. As a result, Indonesian parties face severe difficulties in financing their operations, leading them to launch predatory attacks on state resources and making them vulnerable to manipulation by oligarchic interests.