- Discover Indonesia Online

You are currently in > Just a blog about Indonesia > Islamists go mainstream in election

Islamists go mainstream in election SEMARANG - As the band launches into the popular 1980s song "The Final Countdown" by rock group Europe, several thousand Indonesians at an election rally in central Java start cheering. They join in as a speaker on stage exhorts them to chant -- not the words of the song -- but Allahu Akbar (God is greatest). Welcome to a rally for one of Indonesia's most conservative Islamist parties, the Prosperous Justice Party. Instead of pushing Islamic issues, party leaders promise to tackle graft and the economy. Along with Islamic prayers and strident condemnation of Israel, there is Western music.
As parliamentary polls on April 5 draw closer, parties that want to implement Islamic Sharia Law or turn Indonesia into an Islamic state have largely dumped their conservative platforms in public and are campaigning on issues that surveys show most people care about, such as corruption and the price of food. Predictions have proven off the mark that support for Islamist parties would spike at a time of growing disenchantment with secular rule in the world's most populous Muslim nation since the downfall of autocrat Suharto in 1998.
"Indonesian society is more Islamic than at any time in the past, but this hasn't flowed through to mean we have more Islamist politics," said Greg Fealy, an expert on Indonesian Islam at the Australian National University. "For Indonesians it's all very well to be more Islamic, more devout, more self-consciously Islamic in private life, but it's not necessarily a determining factor in how they vote or in how they think the state should be configured." Added Azyumardi Azra, rector of the State Islamic University in Jakarta, the country's most prestigious centre of Islamic learning: "The dominant parties will be those which do not base their ideology on religious dogma."

Islam blended with other beliefs

Conservative Islamist parties won 14 percent of the parliamentary vote in 1999. Polls show this will not change much on April 5, with only the Prosperous Justice Party tipped to make any gains, partly because of its reputation for cleanness. Indeed, at its rally in the Central Java capital Semarang, supporters said they would choose the party because of its integrity and anti-graft stance, not its Islamic base.
Two big secular-nationalist parties won 56 percent of the vote in 1999. Two moderate Muslim-oriented parties, which do not use Islam as their foundation, took most of the rest. Recent polls show little support for Sharia in Indonesia, where Islam arrived with Arab traders centuries ago and blended with a range of other beliefs including mysticism and animism. Fighting terror also ranks low, even though Muslim militants have launched a spate of attacks in recent years, including bomb blasts on Bali island in 2002 that killed 202 people.
That is where Islam is playing a subtle role in the election campaign, some analysts say, pointing to the lack of attention major parties are giving to fighting terror or curbing Islamic militancy because of concerns Muslim voters could be offended. The Supreme Court's recent move to halve the jail term of militant preacher Abu Bakar Bashir, accused spiritual leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah network who is serving time for immigration offences, gave the impression Indonesia was trying to appease conservative Muslim voters.
Others say it is not Islam, but fear of being branded a U.S. stooge that has kept politicians quiet on terrorism. Muslim parties could also play a key role in deciding who wins Indonesia's presidential election in July, as no candidate is expected to triumph without support from other parties.

Secular parties become greener

Another factor keeping voters away from the Islamists is that the two big secular-nationalist parties, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle and Suharto's former ruling vehicle Golkar, have taken Islam more seriously. In Megawati's party, surveys show growing numbers of members are pious Muslims, said Robert Hefner, an author on Indonesian Islam at Boston University. As for Golkar, its leadership is increasingly filled by Muslim intellectuals.
"There are some basic cultural changes that these (two) parties have responded to, tapping Islamic sentiment while steering clear of the hot-button issues, namely Sharia and the establishment of an Islamic state," said Hefner. Besides the Prosperous Justice Party, the United Development Party of Vice President Hamzah Haz and the Crescent Star Party are the most identifiable Islamist parties in Indonesia. All eschew the violence of the fringe militant groups.
Such conservative Islamist agendas were banned under Suharto, and to many Indonesians, hold little sway today. Sitting at his home in Jakarta, Afifudin Sultani, a retired school teacher who prays five times a day, shows party platforms from newspaper clippings he has collected. What matters is the economy and boosting funds for schools. "We don't need to mix religion and the state. Religion here is a personal thing," he said.

Posted in Elections @ 29 March 2004 00:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

There are no reactions on this blog entry yet. Be the first one to give a reaction here!

Log in to write a reaction

You are not logged in to the website. You have to be logged in to write a reaction on this blog entry.

· If you already have an account, please login.
· If you have lost your password, please retrieve it.
· If you don't have an account yet, you can create one.

Add this blog entry to your email, your own blog, MySpace, Facebook, or whatsoever via AddThis:
Bookmark and Share

e-mail updates for this blog article

Login if you want to receive emails for reactions on this blog entry. You will receive an update as soon as a reaction on this blog entry is posted.

Your website for tickets in Indonesia!
Looking for e-tickets for flights in Indonesia? Here's your solution! Order your e-tickets at
· 2015, 28 entries
· 2014, 591 entries
· 2013, 750 entries
· 2012, 1061 entries
· 2011, 792 entries
· 2010, 644 entries
· 2009, 916 entries
· 2008, 504 entries
· 2007, 725 entries
· 2006, 1014 entries
· 2005, 723 entries
· 2004, 558 entries
· 2003, 525 entries
· 2002, 375 entries
· 2001, 162 entries
· gigolo
· jakarta
· blogger
Automatically generated every hour
· General (1205 entries)
· Economy (643 entries)
· Politics (574 entries)
· Accidents (561 entries)
· Terrorism (541 entries)
· Earthquake (539 entries)
· Volcanoes (387 entries)
· Crime (357 entries)
· Corruption (349 entries)
· Flooding (278 entries)
· Elections (276 entries)
· Travel (268 entries)
· Bird Flu (254 entries)
· Religion (242 entries)
· Tourism (239 entries)
· Oddly enough ... (219 entries)
· Violence (198 entries)
· Drugs (196 entries)
· Health (192 entries)
· Aceh conflict (191 entries)
· Environment (185 entries)
· Weather (171 entries)
· Military (168 entries)
· Protests (157 entries)
· Culture (106 entries)
· Garuda Indonesia (91 entries)
· C. Sulawesi conflict (86 entries)
· Human rights (82 entries)
· Forest fires (78 entries)
· Sidoarjo mudflow (71 entries)
· Power supply (64 entries)
· Ramadan (63 entries)
· PT Freeport (55 entries)
· Picture guess (48 entries)
· Maluku conflict (47 entries)
· Dengue Fever (37 entries)
· History (37 entries)
· Infrastructure (36 entries)
· Polio (35 entries)
· Mexican flu (35 entries)
· Website (25 entries)
· Media (22 entries)
· Nuclear power (21 entries)
· Sports (20 entries)
· Sexy (16 entries)
· SARS (15 entries)
· Nightlife (10 entries)
· Others (5 entries)
· Lippo Cikarang (5 entries)
· Close smallest categories
EUR-IDR: 16,590 · 16,620  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 18:12 CET
JPY-IDR: 126.83 · 126.95  The Rupiah rate improved since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 21:58 CET
MYR-IDR: 3,545 · 3,549  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 15 May 2018 08:42 CET
SGD-IDR: 10,479 · 10,501  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 07 May 2018 07:48 CET
THB-IDR: 439.14 · 439.41  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 16 May 2018 09:18 CET
USD-IDR: 14,097 · 14,157  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 00:46 CET
Go to 'exchange rates' 
·  At 20 September 2018 06:54 erik12 reacted on Fuel prices lowered, again
·  At 19 October 2015 17:17 imambudianto5 reacted on Bank Indonesia maintains benchmark interest rate at 7.75%
·  At 04 March 2015 19:18 merdekaSah reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 04 March 2015 13:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 26 February 2015 13:02 Irena reacted on Sexy, a young woman with candy
·  At 08 May 2014 09:51 jstar reacted on No alcohol should be sold in warung
·  At 01 May 2014 10:07 jstar reacted on Indonesia to be among the top 10 peacekeeping contributors
·  At 27 March 2014 05:50 harlys reacted on PPP leader voices concern over Islamic parties' future
·  At 10 March 2014 06:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 09 March 2014 00:11 Yerun reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 08 March 2014 20:33 nicknick reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 18 February 2014 04:17 Yerun reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 16 February 2014 05:41 Amed East Bali reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 14 February 2014 22:27 Anne Mieke reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 14 February 2014 22:22 beritaislam reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 16 January 2014 15:37 Anne Mieke reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 15:21 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 15:05 Anne Mieke reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 14:48 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 14:41 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
Go to 'forum topics' 

Created by · feedback & contact · © 2000-2020
Other websites by · · ·

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional 129,831,001 pageviews Discover Indonesia Online at