Policies and Polls: Elections and Land Conflicts in Paser, Indonesia

Laurens Bakker


This paper deals with the impact of direct bupati (district head) elections on local politics with regard to land confl icts in the district of Paser, Indonesia. I discuss the position and infl uence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in this process and their usage of adat-based land claims. The paper is concerned with the internal political context of government-NGO power relations as well as with the position and profi ling of these parties in Paserese society at large. The subject is approached through a discussion of two ‘land’ occupations (one in fact being a sea occupation) by groups claiming adat rights, and of the measures taken by the local government and NGOs alike. The new importance of regional politics and local responsibility of those in power in Paser are reviewed against the background of Indonesian political reform. I argue that results are likely to be determined by a specifi c local context and momentum rather than by nationwide developments.


Adat-based Claims; Conflicts; Politics; Governance, Indonesia

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Note from the author: For Kompas and the two East Kalimantan newspapers, the online archive sections have become ‘members only’ which means that direct links to the articles no longer work. However, interested readers can register with each archive free of charge. The material will then become accessible. I have listed the dates of my own downloads of the articles and hold copies on file.

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