Do voters from marginalised groups choose candidates for subnational executive and legislative positions on the basis of performance or anticipated performance in public service delivery that are relevant to their particular needs? In what ways, if any, have successful strategies been used by marginalised groups to ensure candidates for election and elected officials pay attention to their concerns, and how have these differed from strategies used by non-marginalised groups?
This report provides an overview of the literature on the voting behaviour of marginalised groups in subnational elections and whether this is based on performance in service delivery that meets their particular needs. Particular emphasis is placed on Indonesia. The report also looks at successful strategies that have been used by marginalised groups worldwide to ensure candidates for election and elected officials pay attention to their needs.
While there is limited evidence on the voting behaviour of individual groups living in conflict-afflicted provinces, the literature provides some information about the voting behaviour of people living in ethnically and religiously diverse conflict-afflicted/post-conflict provinces in Indonesia.
This rapid literature review found very little evidence on whether other marginalised groups vote on the basis of performance in service delivery in subnational elections. Contacting experts in this field also produced very little evidence on this subject, although there is some work currently being undertaken which is relevant to the topic of this review. In the Indonesian case the lack of evidence could possibly be attributed to the fact that, as one expert notes, election campaigns in Indonesia tend to be run on populist issues, rather than on the basis of service delivery issues (Expert comment – Claire Smith). The expert notes that this is due to the fact that Indonesia has “a relatively immature party and electoral system” (Expert comment – Claire Smith).
There also appears to be limited evidence to suggest that marginalised groups use different strategies to non-marginalised groups in order to ensure candidates for election and elected officials pay attention to their concerns. Here the search was also broadened to include examples from other countries which may be relevant to the situation in Indonesia. Many members of marginalised groups may have multiple identities, and as a result their voting behaviour and strategies will depend on what they consider to be their primary identity. It will also depend on whether they opt for a middle path between their competing needs or priorities.
Strachan, A.L. Voting behaviour of marginalised groups in Indonesia (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1076). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 7 pp.