Accepted paper:

Performing transparency and generosity: managing conflicting ideals in Javanese local politics

Author:

Heikki Wilenius (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation discusses how the ideal of transparency collides with the ideal of generosity in Javanese local politics. Depending on the context of political practice, the ideals can either remain contradictory or mediated partially. This is an ongoing moral dilemma for most politicians.

Paper long abstract:

A central challenge of political practice in Java is facing the contradiction between the ideal of transparent politics and the ideal of a generous community leader. This contradiction is rarely verbalized, but manifests itself differently in various contexts. This presentation discusses ways of reconciling and mediating between these ideals, based on data gathered during a year-long fieldwork that was conducted in 2013 and 2014. A key theme in Reformation Era Indonesian politics (1998-) has been the opposition to corruption. In the lead-up to the general elections in 2014, it is the main campaign theme of most parties. One example of a practice that is seen as corrupt is how politicians gather support for themselves by paying their potential voters, or giving them gifts. However, these same practices, depending on their context, can also be regarded as adhering to traditional values of hospitality and generosity. When looking at campaigning at the grass roots level, the challenge of candidates is how to embrace the ideal of abstract and transparent politics, while on the other hand fulfilling an ideal of a community leader who concretely gives back to the community and is genuinely taking care of its interests. This presentation analyzes this contradiction, discussing how it is negotiated in electoral committee meetings, how the candidates draw the moral boundary personally, and how the contradiction is mediated in practice during campaigning.

panel P009
The intimacy of corruption as a conundrum of governance: secrecy vs inflated rhetoric