Rethinking the 1955 election: Political struggle and abandoned optimism

Faishal Hilmy Maulida, Abdurakhman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The 1950s were a period with great optimism towards the improvement of socio-economic life and political stability. When all the high hopes did not come into being at the beginning of the liberal democracy, the elections were made to be the way out of all political impasse. However, there was failure in taking advantage of the emerging optimism As the 1955 Indonesian election actually shows disintegrative elements. This study aims to not only provide an overview of political struggles between parties and elites during the carried out election along with issues which entailed, but also analyze the impact of the election for the following period. This research uses historical research method, which consists of 4 steps, namely (1) heuristics; (2) source critism; (3) interpretation; (4) historiography. In particular, it should be explained that in the heuristic stage (data search), the authors explore primary data sources in the National Archives of the Republic Indonesia, the National Library of Republic Indonesia, and ancient book traders and collectors in Greater Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Malang, and Semarang. The result was a collection of archives, newspapers, and rare books that were hardly ever used in previous research. The results showed that the 1955 Indonesian election was a trigger of political tensions which were disintegrated and led to an orientation among electoral districts. The election results, which showed the victory of nationalist-communist parties in Java and religious parties outside Java, caused rising polarization among groups. In addition, problems that arose during the election, such as security disturbances and the constellation between tapering political parties resulted in another impact on the continuity of the parliamentary results of the election in the following period. To conclude, the domination of parties raises the adventures of the political elite in utilizing the people power to seize or strengthen power, as the fight between parties to gain voters actually led to national disintegration. If the previous research was limited to analyzing the results of the election, this research also includes description and analysis of problems that occurred during the election, providing a supporting source for the conclusions made by previous researchers on the same issue.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissecting History and Problematizing the Past in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781536193992
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Disintegrative
  • Optimism
  • Political struggle
  • The 1955 general election


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