Disability and Elections: The Experience of Disabled Candidates in Indonesia’s 2019 Legislative Elections

Dr Thushara Dibley1, Dr Elisabeth Kramer1

1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

In the 2019 elections in Indonesia there were 42 candidates with a disability, but not one of them won a seat. Drawing on interviews with 31 of these candidates, this paper focuses on their experiences, motivations and challenges of running for a political seat. The paper interrogates how individual candidates negotiate their personal motivations for running against the requirements of being part of a political party and engaging in a political system that has traditionally excluded them. We argue that those candidates who choose to participate in the formal political process embrace the risks and challenges involved in participating in formal politics because of the opportunity to raise awareness about and change attitudes towards disability.


Thushara Dibley is a Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on social movements in Indonesia and Timor Leste. Her recent work has focused on disability activism in Indonesia. She is the co-editor of Activists in Transition: Progressive Politics in Democratic Indonesia (Cornell, 2019).

Elisabeth Kramer is a Deputy Director at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and an affiliate of the School of Languages and Culture at the University of Sydney. Previous research has focused on elections and political identity in Indonesia. In 2019 she held a Cheung Kong Research Leadership Award from Endeavour Awards Australia.




The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd