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Rice Imports and Electoral Proximity: The Philippines and Indonesia Compared

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This article attempts to explain why the pattern of rice imports in Indonesia and the Philippines, two countries that share many similarities, differ as their respective presidential elections approach: rice imports tend to increase in the Philippines yet fall in Indonesia. The mainstream agricultural political economy literature can only help provide partial answers because it overly stresses the influence of material factors within institutional frameworks. To more fully come to grips with this contrasting pattern, we also need to understand how ideas impact politics and where these influential ideas originate. I find that Indonesia’s more pro-peasant, economic nationalist history, as compared to its Philippine counterpart, acts as a constraint on that country’s politicians. It compels them to reduce rice imports as elections approach in order to appear more populist.
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Keywords: Indonesia; agricultural political economy; agricultural protectionism; corruption; food politics; presidential elections; rice imports; the Philippines

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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