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Fluctuating Populism: Prabowo’s Everchanging Populism Across the Indonesian Elections

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posted on 2024-04-08, 04:20 authored by Ihsan YilmazIhsan Yilmaz, Hasnan Bachtiar, Chloe Smith, Kainat Shakil
This paper introduces an interesting aspect or variant of populism which we call ‘fluctuating populism’ through a case study of Prabowo Subianto Joyohadikusumo, the winner of the 2024 Indonesian presidential election, and a career politician for over three decades in the country. We define ‘fluctuating’ quality of populism as the strategic adjustments made by populist leaders to their rhetoric and ideological messaging across different political campaigns in pursuit of electoral victory. Based on the Indonesian presidential elections of 2009, 2014, 2019, and 2024, the paper demonstrates the dynamic nature of populism. It reveals that over just a decade, Prabowo has undergone shifts in ideological stances, rhetorical appeals, and electoral strategies in each election cycle. He has evolved from an ultra-nationalist, chauvinist, and Islamist populist to a technocratic figure with a much softer side. We also find that within these election periods, he never fully prescribed an ideology or rhetoric, but instead fluctuated according to the political landscape. Prabowo’s success in the 2024 election underscores the effectiveness of ‘fluctuating populism’ in navigating Indonesia’s political landscape. This case study shows that this concept offers a framework for understanding the strategic adjustments made by populist leaders and warrants further examination in comparative studies of political leadership.

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Language

eng

Research statement

Background - Contribution - Significance -

Publication classification

A6 Research report/technical paper

Publisher

European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS)

Place of publication

Brussels, Belgium

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