Ongoing Projects

(1) Testing the Implications of Concurrent Elections: Evidence from Indonesia (intended submission March 2021)

Although the media and academics have paid considerable attention to the recent presidential and legislative elections in Indonesia – which were held across the archipelago on 17 April 2019 – their focus is restricted to the aftermath of the fierce competition between two electoral coalitions in the context of democratic consolidation in post-Suharto Indonesia. In fact, the 2019 elections were institutionally significant because voters for the first time would choose their parliaments at multiple levels and their president simultaneously at the ballot box. Considering the findings from previous studies on other presidential systems, I expect that the unprecedented concurrent elections in Indonesia also had a profound impact on Indonesian politics. Thus, using an original dataset that covers data of two recent elections (2014 and 2019) at the district (kabupaten) and city (kota) level, I will examine whether and how the change in institutional setting affected the contours of electoral competition in Indonesia. Specifically, I will first focus on testing the two previously hypothesized effects of the concurrent elections: 1) presidential coattails, representing electoral advantages to the president-elect party and its coalition partners in the legislative elections, and 2) nationalization, referring to a decline in the significance of local political contexts in voter choice. Additionally, I will check whether loyal party members of a coalition that lost in the presidential election were more likely to benefit in the parliamentary elections than those who gave lukewarm backing to the coalition.

(2) In the name of minjoo: The roles of pro-democracy parties in contentious politics and democratic progress in South Korea (participation in a book project sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)

South Korea is one of few Asian countries in which democratic transition initiated by popular pressure has been durable and has not undergone a retrogression to authoritarianism. Interestingly, when it comes to understanding South Korea’s the growing democratic resiliency, far less scholarly attention has been paid to the role of political parties than to other factors, such as working and middle class mobilization, economic development, and rise of civil society. In this chapter, I argue that a family of pro-democracy parties that stemmed from the New Korea Democratic Party (NKDP) and have customarily retained the “minjoo” (democracy) label plays a vital role in promoting and sustaining contemporary democracy in South Korea. The NKDP’s formation and its surprisingly good performance in the 1985 legislative election, which was held amid severe authoritarian repression, provided considerable momentum for building a well-institutionalized anti-government front that ultimately achieved a political opening in 1987. Although factional infighting and splits resulted in the NKDP’s demise, the successor minjoo parties have contributed to robust growth in democratic stability by institutionally curtailing authoritarian legacies and enhancing transparency in state agencies’ decision-making. More importantly, as indicated by the recent peaceful power transition following the presidential impeachment in 2016-17, politicians from former and current minjoo parties were crucial to preventing the political crisis from becoming a larger threat to the existing democratic system.