Incumbency Advantage as a Basis of Party Coalition in Regional Heads Candidate Selection

Caroline Paskarina, Rina Hermawati, Nuraeni Suparman


Studies on the incumbency advantage have proven that incumbents remain strong candidates in the elections. However, these studies focused more on the incumbent figures as the main capital in winning votes. This article analyzes the incumbency advantage from different perspective as the basis for the formation of parties coalitions in local elections. Using a qualitative method, this article compares three regions in West Java, namely City of Cimahi, City of Tasikmalaya, and Regency of Bekasi to show how incumbent use their advantages in influencing the dynamics of candidate selection within political parties, especially in determining who will become their vice mayor/regent and mobilization strategies during the campaign period. Data is collected through in-depth interview with parties’ elites who were involved in candidate selection. Although not all incumbents in the three regions won, but the results of this research proved the dominance of incumbent in the formation of party coalitions due to their structural position in the party and their access to public resources. This finding confirms the importance of criticizing the practice of transactional politics in selecting the candidates in a figure-based political era.


incumbent advantage, candidate selection, local election

Full Text:



Ahmad Malik, F., & Ahmad Malik, B. (2014). Politics of Coalition in India (Vol. 2). Online. Retrieved from

Aragon, F. (2013). Political Parties, Candidate Selection, and Quality of Government. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 13(2), 783–810.

Ashworth, S., Bueno De Mesquita, E., & Friedenberg, A. (2017). On the Incumbency Advantage *. Retrieved from

Aspinall, E., & As’ad, M. U. (2016). Understanding family politics: Successes and failures of political dynasties in regional Indonesia. South East Asia Research.

Carey, J. M., & Shugart, M. S. (1995). Incentives to cultivate a personal vote: A rank ordering ofelectoral formulas. Electoral Studies, 14(4), 417–439.

Carson, J. L., Engstrom, E. J., & Roberts, J. M. (2007). Candidate quality, the personal vote, and the incumbency advantage in congress. American Political Science Review, 101(2), 289–301.

Cheibub, J. A., Przeworski, A., & Saiegh, S. M. (2004). Government coalitions and legislative success under presidentialism and parliamentarism. British Journal of Political Science.

Close, C., Kelbel, C., & Kern, A. (2015). Party crashers? How Belgian citizens view democratic innovations within and beyond political parties (pp. 1–27).

Cover, A. D. (1977). One Good Term Deserves Another: The Advantage of Incumbency in Congressional Elections. American Journal of Political Science.

Cox, G. W., & Katz, J. N. (1996). Why Did the Incumbency Advantage in U.S. House Elections Grow? American Journal of Political Science.

Dettman, S., Pepinsky, T. B., & Pierskalla, J. H. (2017). Incumbency advantage and candidate characteristics in open-list proportional representation systems: Evidence from Indonesia. Electoral Studies, 48, 111–120.

Erikson, R. S. (1972). Malapportionment, Gerrymandering, and Party Fortunes in Congressional Elections. American Political Science Review.

Feinstein, B. D. (2010). The dynasty advantage: Family ties in congressional elections. Legislative Studies Quarterly.

Fiva, J. H., & Smith, D. M. (2018). Political Dynasties and the Incumbency Advantage in Party-Centered Environments. American Political Science Review, 112(03), 706–712.

Gherghina, S., & Volintiru, C. (2017). A new model of clientelism: Political parties, public resources, and private contributors. European Political Science Review, 9(1), 115–137.

Gordon, S. C. & Landa, D. (2009). Do The Advanteges Of Incumbency, Advantage Incumbent? The Journal of Politics, 71(4), 1481–1498.

Hazan, R. Y., & Rahat, G. (2010). Democracy within Parties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johannes, J. R., & McAdams, J. C. (1981). The Congressional Incumbency Effect: Is It Casework, Policy Compatibility, or Something Else? An Examination of the 1978 Election. American Journal of Political Science.

Lundell, K. (2004). Determinants of Candidate Selection: The Degree of Centralization in Comparative Perspective. Party Politics, 10(1), 25–47.

Manor, J. (2013). Post-clientelist Initiatives. In K. Stokke & O. Tornquist (Eds.), Democratization in the Global South: The Importance of Transformative Politics (pp. 243–254). New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.

Martin, L. W., & Stevenson, R. T. (2010). The conditional impact of incumbency on government formation. American Political Science Review, 104(3), 503–518.

Mayhew, D. R. (2008). Incumbency advantage in U.S. presidential elections: The historical record. Political Science Quarterly, 123(2), 201–228.

Paskarina, C., Hermawati, R., & Yunita, D. (2019). Combining Clientelism and Incumbency Advantage : Political Strategy in Candidate Selection for the 2017 Local Head Election in Bekasi Regency. Politik Indonesia: Indonesian Political Science Review, 4(January), 21–41.

Rahat, G., & Hazan, R. Y. (2001). Candidate Selection Methods: An Analytical Framework. Party Politics, 7(3), 297–322.

Rahat, Gideon. (2007). Candidate Selection: The Choice Before the Choice. Journal of Democracy, 18(1), 157–170.

Saputra, M. B. (2018). Politics in Indonesia: It’s Business As Usual. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from

Shapiro, R. Y., Miller, W. E., & Shanks, J. M. (2006). The New American Voter. Political Science Quarterly.

Shin, J. H. (2017). The choice of candidate-centered electoral systems in new democracies. Party Politics, 23(2), 160–171.

Shomer, Y. (2014). What affects candidate selection processes? A cross-national examination. Party Politics, 20(4), 533–546.

Smith, D. M., & Martin, S. (2017). Political Dynasties and the Selection of Cabinet Ministers. Legislative Studies Quarterly.

Spahn, B. T. (2011). Toward a Fuller Understanding of the Incumbency Advantage in State Legislative Elections: A Quasi-Experimental Approach. Wesleyan University.

Stone, W. J. (2011). Incumbency Reconsidered: Prospects, Strategic Retirement, and Incumbent Quality in U.S. House Elections. The Journal of Politics, 72(1), 178–190.

Sukmajati, M. (2017). Calon Petahana. Surat Kabar Kedaulatan Rakyat.

Sulistiyanto, P. (2009). Pilkada in Bantul District: Incumbent, Populism and Decline of Royal Power. In M. Erb & P. Sulistiyanto (Eds.), Deepening Democracy in Indonesia: Direct Election for Local Leader (Pilkada) (pp. 190–210). Singapore: ISEAS Publishing.

Trounstine, J. (2011). Incumbency and Responsiveness in Local Elections, 1–38.

Williams, R., & Paun, A. (2011). What works in candidate selection? Party Conferences, (October).



  • There are currently no refbacks.

MIMBAR : Jurnal Sosial dan Pembangunan is licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License