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In Session: Civil Society and Policy-Making in Contemporary Indonesia
5: How Do Ethnic Groups Compete for a New Province in a Decentralised Indonesia?
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Graduate School of Public Administration (STIS-LAN Jakarta), United States
How do ethnic groups compete in a decentralised Indonesia? How do their political competitions to claim a new province lead to open conflict? The Indonesian government devised its massive territorial autonomy (TA) strategy, regional proliferation or pemekaran, as part of expansive decentralisation reform in 1999. While scholars are generally ambiguous about the relationship between regional proliferation and conflict (Barron et al.,2016), many districts still experience small-scale episodic conflict with some potentially fuelled by ethnic-group competition after pemekaran (Bazzi and Gudgeon, 2018). This study aims to investigate ethnic groups' political competition during the initiation stage of non-successful new province campaigns. Using four cases of two new province aspirations, I argue that ethnic groups' political competition can emerge into the level of a localised small-scale episodic conflict. The evidence suggests that political competition among ethnic groups may temporarily escalate due to the new province capital location and the future bid of a new gubernatorial position. This study fills the scholarly gap in the discussion behind the global ethnic groups’ politics and conflict (e.g., Cederman et al., 2015; Cunningham, 2014). Furthermore, this study finds support on the effectiveness of a moratorium policy such as buying-time tactics to reduce the conflict.