Explaining party fragmentation at district-level Indonesia

05 Jul 2022

While predominant views within party fragmentation literature suggest the importance of the
sociological and institutional hypothesis, the Indonesian case provides a new perspective on the issue at hand. Using district-level elections, this article recognizes the weight of existing perspectives, but posits the need to empirically assess the effect of certain seat apportionment methods in the proportional representation system—a much under-explored argument within the literature. This article shows that Indonesia’s methods for allocating seats, the Hare and Sainte-Laguë methods, have been relatively benign in creating party fragmentation. Yet the latter method has been more favorable for small parties due to its deeper bent toward the disproportionality of votes. Additionally, given that major parties often perform unevenly across district elections, the nature of party competition at local politics has greatly diverged from that of the national arena. This article argues that this diversity has been driven partly by the strong influence of ethnic and geographical dispersion, making it hard for major parties to preside over local politics. Thus the concept of party nationalization hardly exists, and party fragmentation could be the default of the party system at local politics in Indonesia for years to come.

disproportionality, Hare quota, major parties, party fragmentation, Sainte-Laguë

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