Though most governments in Southeast Asia are widely described as authoritarian, elections have been a feature of politics in the region for many decades. This volume, bringing together eleven separate studies by leading authorities, examines the countries that have conducted multi-party elections since the 1940s and 1950s—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar, and Singapore. It identifies the common and distinguishing features of electoral politics in the region. The contributors to this volume, unlike most earlier students of politics in Southeast Asia, conclude that it is not something peculiar to the political culture of the region that shapes its political behavior. It is, rather, the same political forces and structures that shape politics in North America and Europe.


Introduction: The Study of Elections in the Politics of Southeast Asia
R. H. Taylor

1. Elections and Participation in Three Southeast Asian Countries
Benedict R. Anderson

2. A Useful Fiction: Democratic Legitimization in New Order Indonesia
R. William Liddle

3. Elections Without Representation: The Singapore Experience Under the PAP
Garry Rodan

4. Elections’ Janus Face: Limitations and Potential in Malaysia
K. S. Jomo

5. Malaysia: Do Elections Make a Difference?
Harold Crouch

6. Contested Meanings of Elections in the Philippines
Benedict J. Tria

7. Kerkvliet Elections in Burma/Mynmar: For Whom and Why?
R. H. Taylor

8. Elections and Democratization in Thailand
Suchit Bunbongkarn

9. A Tale of Two Democracies: Conflicting Perceptions of Elections in Thai Politics
Anek Laothamatas

10. The Cambodian Elections of 1993: A Case of Power to the People?
Kate G. Frieson

Dan S. Lev


“By ignoring culture as an explanatory variable and self-consciously adopting a systematic comparative approach, this book represents a major contribution to the study of politics and elections in contemporary Southeast Asia and in other regions and historical periods as well.”—Crossroads

“This volume serves as a useful reader to the ongoing debate about elections and their (mis)use in Southeast Asia.”—James Chin, Journal of Asian Studies