Election or Bust – The Cost of Politics in Bali

Those ugly banners by the roadside (see several posts below) hide an even uglier story. All Bali, and perhaps other parts of Indonesia are abuzz in advance of legislative elections. The number of parties is so high that there are scores of candidates for each seat.

What makes the coming attrition so sad is the fact that many of these candidates have spent a small fortune in Rupiah to finance their ‘campaigns’. And where did many of them get the money? By hocking their land and houses to rich loan sharks, who lay down drastic terms (no pun) for a stab at a spell in parliament. Interest reportedly runs many times higher than the going bank rates and timelines are equally dire – apparently as short as 5 months.

Basically not only does this mean that candidates are going to lose their homes if they don’t get elected, and of course many won’t, but even if one does get elected it is clear that there will be a spike in corruption. How does a member of parliament pay back a loan with such draconian terms on the wages paid to members?

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