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Oligarchy and Democracy in Indonesia

From: Indonesia
Number 96, October 2013
pp. 11-33 | 10.1353/ind.2013.0017



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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