Identification politics looms over Indonesia’s presidential election

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Identity politics looms over Indonesia’s presidential election


Creator: Deasy Simandjuntak, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

The 2019 Indonesian presidential election can be a two-horse race between the present President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and his 2014 contender, former normal Prabowo Subianto. Amid speculations that the 2019 election can be extra concerning the economic system than identification politics, the Islamic rallies in numerous Indonesian towns during the last few weeks display that the possibility of spiritual campaigning and sectarian mobilisation remains to be lurking.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shakes hands with his vice-presidential running mate for the 2019 presidential election Islamic cleric Ma'ruf Amin while greeting supporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside).

Those rallies, dubbed ‘Protecting the Tauhid Motion’ had been organised via the Nationwide Motion to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF). They had been brought on via an incident in October 2018, the place contributors of the early life wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s greatest Islamic organisation and a supporter of Jokowi, burnt a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of religion. All through the rallies to protest the flag’s burning, there have been calls of ‘ganti presiden’ (trade the president) as some protesters tried to glue the rallies to the election marketing campaign.

Each presidential applicants take the possibility of identification politics that includes within the marketing campaign very critically. Jokowi has appointed the conservative and senior Islamic pupil Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidential candidate. And in mid-September 2018 Prabowo signed a pact with conservative Islamic students and Muslim activists at a congregation of the GNPF, the organiser of the new rallies.

With Amin at the price tag, Jokowi has a powerful device to mobilise identification politics must he select to take action. Till lately, Amin was once each the rais ‘aam (very best chief) of the NU, a champion of average Islam, and chairman of the extra conservative-leaning Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Amin was once at the back of the 2005 fatwa in opposition to Indonesia’s Ahmadiyah Muslim minority staff and was once key knowledgeable witness in an ordeal that despatched Jakarta’s former Chinese language-Christian governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama — then Jokowi’s closest best friend — to prison for blasphemy in 2017. The blasphemy fatwa turned into the raison d’être for the GNPF and consolidated an enormous Islamist mobilisation in opposition to Ahok. This mobilisation — supported via Prabowo’s camp, which championed Ahok’s opponent Anies Baswedan within the April 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election — marked the fruits of identification politics in Indonesia’s post-reform generation.

It’s transparent that the President hopes that Amin’s nomination will protect him from the chance of Prabowo’s camp launching a sectarian marketing campaign in opposition to him and save you conservative citizens from overwhelmingly siding with Prabowo.

Somewhat than actively mobilising non secular sentiments, Amin’s first strikes as vice-presidential candidate were geared at proscribing the opposite camp’s alternatives for a sectarian marketing campaign. Regardless of being instructed to renounce from each the NU and the MUI, Amin simplest resigned from the NU and didn’t surrender his MUI chairmanship. That is most likely since the NU (save for the ones within the organisation’s conservative ‘NU true trail’ or garis lurus faction) is already rather cast in its make stronger for Jokowi. The MUI is extra nuanced in its political stance, with some leaders to begin with being concerned within the GNPF and attached to events that make stronger Prabowo. Amin’s resolution to retain his MUI chairmanship may well be geared toward curtailing the Council from leaning against Prabowo’s facet.

Amin may be pushing for the Islamic thought of wasatiyyah (center method), which in Indonesia refers back to the observe of average Islam. NU’s doctrine of Islam Nusantara — the applying of Islam inside Indonesia’s socio-cultural context — upholds an identical average values. However Islam Nusantara’s branding as a predominantly NU doctrine would possibly make it unattractive to non-NU contributors. The wasatiyyah is deemed extra accommodative to Indonesian Muslims from more than a few traditions.

Amin will center of attention his marketing campaign in areas the place Jokowi misplaced in 2014. Those come with the religiously homogenous Aceh, West Sumatra and West Java, that are identified to be Prabowo’s strongholds. In West Java’s 2018 gubernatorial election, the fewer widespread candidate subsidized via the Wealthy Justice Birthday party (PKS) and Nice Indonesia Motion Birthday party (Gerindra) nearly received because of religiously charged campaigning. North Sumatra’s 2018 gubernatorial election was once additionally ruled via identification politics and received via applicants supported via PKS and Gerindra. Jokowi’s camp hopes that Amin will have the ability to draw in non secular citizens in those provinces.

The hot rallies display that in spite of Amin’s nomination, Jokowi remains to be at risk of ‘assaults’ via Islamic teams that experience pledged allegiance to his opponent, such because the GNPF. The friction between the opposing teams, when irritated, may doubtlessly result in a sour sectarian marketing campaign subsequent 12 months.

Any other necessary query is whether or not partnering with a modern president will regulate Amin’s ideological viewpoint past the marketing campaign season. Regardless of Amin’s efforts to intensify moderatism — for example via visiting church buildings whilst campaigning in North Sumatra — there are issues that Amin’s destructive stance on Muslim minorities just like the Ahmadiyah and Shia stay unchanged.

Fresh circumstances such because the blasphemy fees in opposition to a lady who complained concerning the quantity of the loudspeakers at a mosque and the compelled closure of church buildings via hard-line teams proceed to problem the rustic’s dedication to spiritual tolerance. Whether or not Amin will in reality attempt to do something positive about Indonesia’s long-standing factor of non secular discrimination is one thing to keep watch over because the marketing campaign heats up.

Deasy Simandjuntak is an Affiliate Fellow within the Regional Strategic and Political Research Program on the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.



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