Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia
University at Albany
University of Michigan
Location: Virtual Event
Sponsor: Harvard University Asia Center
Via Zoom; registration required at: https://bit.ly/HVDSEANOV8
Across Southeast Asia, as in many other regions, politicians win elections by distributing cash, goods, jobs, projects, and other benefits to supporters. But they do so in ways that vary tremendously—both across and within countries. In this talk, and in our forthcoming book, Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia (also with Edward Aspinall and Paul Hutchcroft), we present a new framework for analyzing variation in patronage democracies, focusing on distinct forms of patronage and different networks through which it is distributed. We do so by drawing on a massive, multi-country, multi-year research effort involving interactions with hundreds of politicians and vote brokers, as well as surveys of voters and political campaigners across the region. We explore how local machines in the Philippines, ad hoc election teams in Indonesia, and political parties in Malaysia pursue distinctive clusters of strategies of patronage distribution—what we term electoral mobilization regimes. In doing so, we demonstrate how and why patronage politics varies, how it works on the ground, and how the status quo might change.