The Madurese nobility has disappeared after centuries of foreign domination. Presently there are formal leaders, members of the village councils, as well as informal leaders, including Islamic clergy like the kiyai. The kiyai educates the children and advises adults. The authority of both types of leader depends on their ability to gain the respect of the people. Formal leaders tend to have less authority than the informal Islamic leaders; this was reflected in the 1971 elections, in which 67 percent of the Madura vote went to Nahdatul Ulama, the orthodox Islamic political party.
Blood revenge is a feature of Madurese life, especially when adultery, cattle theft, and public loss of face are involved. This is done through the practice of carok , in which the victim is attacked from behind with a sickle-shaped knife. The carok attack is usually fatal, and one common result of a successful attack is a blood feud between the families of the parties involved. To avoid a carok attack, one may consult a kiyai.