Lecture 5.2

Vote Buying

Emmanuel Teitelbaum

Public Goods

What is a Public Good?

  • Non-excludable: can’t restrict use once provided

  • Non-rival (jointly supplied): once available, can be consumed by others at no additional cost

  • Opposite of a private good, distinct from “club goods” and “common pool resources”



  • Public goods associated with programmatic politics
  • Clientelism associated with club goods and private benefits

Geography of Clientelism

Social Spending in SE Asia

Embedded Liberalism

  • Embedded liberalism: spending on social programs to generate and maintain popular support for liberal economic policies
  • 1990s—emphasis on neoliberal “Washington Consensus” policies
    • Get the macroeconomics right, rest will follow
    • “Trickle down” economics
  • This consensus was challenged by Asian Financial Crisis of 1997

Asian Financial Crisis

  • Showed that even in rapidly growing region, poor remained vulnerable to economic shocks
  • In Indonesia, half the population was vulnerable to food price shocks and rising unemployment
  • Since the turn of millennium, policymakers have focused on building safety nets for the vulnerable
  • Shift in thinking affected policy affected almost every region: Latin America, Africa, South and SE Asia

Welfare States in Developing Countries

  • Noncontributory social assistance
    • Direct transfers, frequently conditional
  • Social insurance
    • Protection against loss of employment
  • Health care schemes
  • Labor market policies
    • Minimum wage, terms and conditions of work, resolution of industrial disputes, etc.
  • Education spending

Southeast Asia Examples

  • Indonesia
    • Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN)
    • Universal healthcare scheme introduced in 2014
    • Covers > 200 million people, largest single payer scheme in the world (Augustina et. al. 2019)

Vote Buying in Indonesia


  • What is a “success team”?
  • How does clientelism in Indonesia differ from clientelism in Latin America?
    • What changed in 1999?
  • What is a “ground war” and how is it fought?
  • When is vote buying successful? What does it achieve?

Electoral Systems

Closed and Open-list PR

  • PR versus SMD
  • Closed-list PR (most systems)
    • Party controls who is on list, and ranking of candidates
    • Generates loyalty to party
  • Open-list PR (Indonesia)
    • Vote for individuals not parties
    • Candidates with most votes get seats

Ballot Example

2014 DPR (People’s Representative Council) ballot for Bali. One punch for party and one for a candidate

Election Results

Source: Aspinall, 2014


Tim Sukses

  • “Success teams”
  • Important due to general weakness of parties
  • Hierarchical, pyramid-like structures
  • Brokers are notoriously unreliable
    • Predation, defection, duplicity


  • Base areas
    • Tim sukses, vote buying more effective
    • But required to stay relevant
  • In non-base areas
    • Community gifts and become more important
    • Success depends on influence of community leaders
    • Quid pro quo is expected but difficult to enforce


  • Argentina
  • India
    • North vs. South
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Similar variation
  • Hypothesis: clientelism is stronger where parties are weaker

Geography of Clientelism


  • Split up into groups
  • Plan a ground war for Arief Wismansyah
  • What are your targets and expected results?
  • How would you…
    • Organize success teams
    • Decide on number of brokers to recruit
    • Pay and manage brokers
    • Choose level of funding and types of gifts



  • Public goods
  • Social spending in SE Asia
  • Indonesia case
    • Electoral system
    • Vote-buying vs. club goods
    • Success of clientelist strategies
  • Discussion/Q&A