Bare-Chested Politics in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia: The Dynamics of Local Elections in a 'Post'-Conflict Region.


This paper examines how far the 2005 direct Pilkada (District Head Elections) in Poso, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia - where there has been widespread ethno-religious violence in the past - were indicative of a move towards a more 'positive' peace. Using a two-level conceptualisation of peace at the elite and the grassroots level, we examine various interventions during the election and voting patterns, to discern to what extent positive peace has been achieved. A positive peace is one which promotes a mutual vision for the future, civic identities, a bridging of ethno-religious identity cleavages, and endeavours to address some of the underlying problems of the conflict. The results of the election indicate a strong negative peace. During the election, there were interventions in place and close monitoring of the implementation to ensure that the elections were peaceful. In some but not all quarters in Poso, the results of the Pilkada indicate there are small movements at the elite level to promote local civic identities and bridge ethno-religious cleavages. However, this did not translate into grassroots voting patterns in favour of slates which were representative of new local civic identities and a bridging of ethno-religious cleavages, which in turn could reduce the incentives to mobilise along ethno-religious lines. Instead, voting patterns indicate that people were reverting to religious affiliations when casting their vote in order to protect their interests. Since the elections, however, there is evidence to suggest that cross-group collective peace building processes are emerging from the grassroots through civil society activities. This has at the very least been evidenced by the restrained reaction of the populace in not engaging in riots or inter-group clashes at the time of the execution of three Christians charged with committing atrocities during the conflict and the sporadic bombings which occurred prior to and following the executions, the murder of three school girls, and other similar incidents which have taken place following the elections.

Read the id21 Research Highlight: Peace through elections in Sulawesi, Indonesia


CRISE Working Paper No.37, 20 pp.

Bare-Chested Politics in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia: The Dynamics of Local Elections in a ‘Post’-Conflict Region.

Published 1 January 2007