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Trade Union Politics and Elections in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Nawawi, (2019) Trade Union Politics and Elections in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Nawawi PhD Thesis Approved and Submitted 13 March 2020 PDF.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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Abstract Political reforms since 1998 changed the ways in which Indonesian trade unions are organised and operate, as well as the extent to which unions have developed their political strategies to compete in legislative elections. Trade unions were controlled and depoliticised for almost 32 years under Suharto’s authoritarian New Order regime. They have since re-emerged in the post-1998 democratisation era, following an alteration in the political policies that were used to curb the political freedom and independence of the labour movement. This thesis provides new insights into the political dynamics of trade union politics in post-authoritarian Indonesia, with consideration given to the changing roles and positions of trade unions toward electoral politics, and the ways in which union elites are vying for power and mobilising organisational resources. The thesis also questions the impact of the unions’ new political roles in policy-making. Empirical data for this thesis is gathered from in-depth interviews involving trade unionists, union legislative candidates, politicians, union members and workers, as well as from direct observation of union political activities during field research in the districts of Bekasi and Serang and the city of Medan. The core chapters of this thesis find that the process of union engagement in electoral politics is evolving. Unions have endeavoured to overcome their lack of financial resources by developing their organisational capacity and strategically channelling resources into election campaigns. Unions are learning from their failure of previous elections, giving rise to new political identities and interests, and using their roles in parliament to influence policy-making. In response to the complex structural and organisational constrains that exist, however, a more consolidated movement, a strong, programmatic and sustained political alliance with well-established parties, and enhancing worker understandings of their political identity and strategic role in elections are crucial to determine the success of union electoral engagement in post-authoritarian Indonesia. In developing these arguments, this thesis offers a way forward for a better understanding on the varied possibilities for, and limitations of, union electoral engagement and explicates the prospect of political unionism in the Indonesia’s future democracy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Trade Unions, Elections, Indonesia
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds) > Centre for International Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Nawawi Nawawi
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 16:45
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2020 09:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26387

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