Bibliography on Party Politics in INDONESIA, 1950-1962

Richard Hula

There exists a large body of well written scholarly material on Indonesian politics during period 1950-1962, but the amount of attention Indonesian political parties receive in this literature is not uniform. During the 1950-1958 period political parties played a key role in the political system of Indonesia. Literature which deals with this period often examines the parties in great detail. In 1958 however, the army, Sukarno, and perhaps the parties themselves brought a virtual end to the party system. In contrast literature on the 1958-1962 period tends to be more interested in the new centers of power. By 1961 many of the parties had been banned. Those which had not were reduced to small groups of men courting Sukarno for personal gain. The Communist party was the only exception, as reflected in the literature.

Several sources proved to be particularly useful in the study of Indonesian political parties. Herbert Feith's The Decline of Constitutional Government in Indonesia and Daniel Lev's The Transition to Guided Democracy provide an excellent framework for understanding the political developments in Indonesia during the period under study. The Communist Party is well described in Donald Hindley's The Communist Party of Indonesia and Justus M. Van Der Kroef's The Communist Party of Indonesia. The Moslem Scholar Party is treated intensively in Naim's The Nahdltula Ulama Party" (M.A. Thesis, Georgetown University). Noer supplied valuable information concerning the Musjumi in "Musjumi: Organization, Ideology, and Political Role in Indonesia" (MA. Thesis, Cornell University). Myers "The Development of the Indonesian Socialist Party" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago) gives a most comprehensive examination of the Indonesian Socialist Party.

This great interest in Indonesia is understandable, for the country is vast in terms of size and population, and the potential of its underdeveloped natural resources. Interest in Indonesia also has been sparked by its role in the East-West conflict. During the time period under study, Indonesia showed a progressively anti-Western orientation. Because the Communist Party of Indonesia became the largest non-ruling party in the world, Western observers devoted much effort to the study of communist strength, strategy, and prospects.

Since there seemed to be so much literature available on Indonesian political parties, it was decided that information used in the ICPP files would be restricted to English material. This step should not be taken as a judgment against non-English sources. It was rather a decision of convenience.

 Material Processed into ICPP Information Files

Information processed into the ICPP information files includes 3082 pages from 83 sources. The frequency distribution of indexing codes in the first table indicate that although some categories were used more often than others, only the theory codes (0--) show a disproportionately low frequency. Although there is a great deal of good descriptive material available on party politics very little theoretical work has been done in this area.

The high frequencies of the "party composition" (3--), "party goals" (5--) and "political environment" (6--) codes can be explained in terms of the type of information they contain and the political system they describe. The party composition codes primarily identify discussions of "party leaders" (code 360). In Indonesia the leadership really defined the party as was particularly true in the 1958-1962 period. This code also refers to many excellent discussions of party support throughout the country. The "party goal" codes index the numerous discussion issues (530) and ideology (540). The political environment code includes references to political elites (660). This code is often used in reference to Sukarno, who--unaffiliated with any political party--became the key political leader in the country.

Although all the major code categories (except the theory codes) have fairly high frequencies, there are some gaps in the information included in the files. Information is lacking about how the parties chose candidates (200) and how they intercede in government on behalf of citizens (280). Indonesian parties seldom participate in these activities, thus accounting for the low frequencies in these codes. There is also little information in the file on party workers (330) and party candidates (340), and the legislative organization (450) of parties has been largely ignored in the literature.

Observations on the State of the Literature

It is clear from the code frequency table that an abundance of descriptive material exists on Indonesian political parties. Unfortunately, the discussions are not guided by theoretical interest in parties per se. Moreover, the lower frequencies of the "party organization" codes (4--) and "party activity" codes (2--) represent the decay of the party system during the period 1958-1962 when there was a general decline in party activity and organization.

The statistics in the data quality table apply to 82 documents analyzed according to our set of data quality codes. Because the table refers to documents rather than pages, it may downgrade the quality of the information in the ICPP file, as many of the shorter articles reveal the lowest quality ratings. Nevertheless, the quality of the literature indexed is fairly high, even if it is not very theoretical.

Most of the material comes from journal articles or books rather than newspapers, and most of the authors are academics. Although the literature overwhelmingly neglects quantitative analysis and theoretical treatment of its subject, about half of the documents account for sources through footnotes. Many of the documents were limited in scope to a single party, and there was considerable evidence of field research. Finally, most of the authors were rated as objective, and the ideological biases in the literature were judged to be minimal.