Authoritarian Populism in Indonesia: The Role of the Political Campaign Industry in Engineering Consent and Coercion

Inaya Rakhmani, Muninggar Sri Saraswati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


All around the globe, populism has become increasingly prominent in democratic societies in the developed and developing world. Scholars have attributed this rise at a response to the systematic reproduction of social inequalities entwined with processes of neoliberal globalisation, within which all countries are inextricably and dynamically linked. However, to theorise populism properly, we must look at its manifestations in countries other than the West. By taking the case of Indonesia, the third largest democracy and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, this article critically analyses the role of the political campaign industry in mobilising narratives in electoral discourses. We use the Gramscian notion of consent and coercion, in which the shaping of populist
narratives relies on mechanisms of persuasion using mass and social media. Such mechanisms allow the transformation of political discourses in conjunction with oligarchic power struggle. Within this struggle, political campaigners narrate the persona of political elites, while cyber armies divide and polarise, to manufacture allegiance and agitation among the majority of young voters as part of a shifting social base. As such, we argue that, together, the narratives – through engineering consent and coercion – construct authoritarian populism that pits two crowds of “the people” against each other, while aligning them with different sections of the “elite.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
JournalJournal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • Indonesia
  • authoritarian populism
  • political campaign industry
  • power struggle
  • social media


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