The Paradox of Incumbency: Patronage, Clientelism, and Incumbent Defeat in Village Chief Elections

Norin Mustika Rahadiri Abheseka(1*)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(*) Corresponding Author


This article examines the practices of  patronage and clientelism during village elections. Examining Mekarsari Village, Yogyakarta, this study finds that patronage strategies such as programmatic politics, vote buying, club goods, and individual gifts were used by all candidates during village elections owing to the lack of  strong social bonds between candidates and voters. The incumbent with all advantages and access to material resources also used patronise and clientelism as strategy, but in fact, it cannot guarantee they win the election. This suggests that the societal relationships and practices of  patronage and clientelism continue to affect voter’s preference. Applying sociological, psychological, and rational approaches to understanding voter behaviour especially in Java, the study found that, apart from the instrumental and social distance considerations, territorial representation also influenced voter’s preference at Village.


village elections, patronage, clientelism, incumbents, voter behaviour.

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