Ms Jennifer Frentasia1
1University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States
Why do some Indonesian legislators visit their constituents in a non-election year but not others? In most legislatures, legislators are elected to represent their constituencies and constituency visits are a minimum job requirement. But in 2012, 70 percent of Indonesian legislators (DPR) did not visit their constituencies, despite a large government funding disbursed to cover those visits. I argue that legislators will not make those trips unless they are able to claim credit in their districts; they will not waste time if they cannot differentiate themselves from their competitors. Credit claiming ability is shaped by the district’s “clarity of responsibility”, an institutional arrangement that enables voters to monitor, identify, and reward/punish politicians. Without such clarity of responsibility, voters find it difficult to differentiate their legislators, making the legislators’ credit claiming ability poor. I argue that legislators facing clarity of responsibility claim credit more effectively, therefore they are more likely to visit than those who do not face such condition. I test my argument using an original individual-level dataset on DPR legislators’ personal attributes and their constituency visits in 2012. I find initial support for my theory. My finding helps explain the dissonance between Indonesian voters’ demands and legislators’ behaviors.
Jennifer is a PhD candidate in political science studying electoral politics and distribution of goods in new and developing democracies. She is interested in how electoral system and rules affect politicians’ and voters’ behavior, and how the voter-politicians relationship affects electoral accountability, governance and development outcomes. She is from Indonesia.