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Marcus Mietzner

The author focuses on Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and largest Muslim nation. From the Dutch colonial era to the tyranny of Suharto, corruption became deeply interwoven with the Indonesian state. Aristocratic families came to view the state as a personal cash machine. The author examines the important issue as to why democratization there has not led to a concomitant decline in corruption, and lays blame at the expensive and inefficient system of funding political campaigns. Rather than swirling around the presidency, corruption became multi-tiered and decentralized. Corruption has not been uncontested however; the Corruption Eradication Commission has arrested hundreds of politicians, mayors, judges and others, although the actual prison time served is typically minimal and some convicted officials have been re-elected. However, the author emphasizes throughout that corruption persists in Indonesia because the likely gains exceed the costs.