To the surprise of many, Indonesia's five Islamic parties captured a combined 33% of votes in April 9th legislative polls, and now look to wield influence in the presidential race.
"Islamic parties are still popular in many regions in Indonesia, but this is a big surprise. The number is higher than most people had predicted earlier," IndoStrategi Executive Director Andar Nubowo told Khabar Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-- expected to win big-- garnered less than 19% of the vote, according to an Antara news agency and Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) quick count.
Though PDI-P led all 12 national parties, its relatively low vote tally dealt a setback to its presidential hopeful, Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Indonesia's electoral rules require a party capture either a quarter of the national vote or a fifth of the House of Representatives (DPR) 560 seats, to nominate one of its members as a July 9th presidential election candidate. Since April 9th, Jokowi's party has been busy allying itself with one or more other parties to meet that threshold.
Compared to 2009 election in which a combined eight Islamic parties garnered 29%, even fewer faith-based parties gained 33% this time around. This year's Indonesia's Islamic slate comprises the National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP), National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Crescent Star Party (PBB).
"This success is because of the loyal support from Indonesia's largest Muslim organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah," Andar said.
As Jakarta Islamic cleric Ahmad Zaki described it, the strong performance by the five parties reflects how Indonesia's Muslim majority grew fed up with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's secular government.
"Muslims are disappointed with the ruling government because of its inability to fight wrong-doing against Islamic values, such as corruption," Ahmad told Khabar. "We want to have a clean government and peace. Future leaders will need to weigh this in their future policy."
Alliances take shape
Since April 9th, the slate's 12 parties discussed forming coalitions and having their candidates share the presidential ticket.
"Our party will certainly do the same thing, but we are not yet certain with which party," PKS chief Anis Matta told Khabar on April 10th. His party received nearly 7% of the vote.
PKB, the front-running Islamic party that won 9% of the vote, reportedly was in talks with Jokowi's PDI-P about a coalition in exchange for fielding his running mate.
Already, PDI-P secured backing of the ruling National Democratic Party (NasDem) that got 6.6% of the vote. A PDI-P alliance with NasDem pools slightly more than 25%, according to Antara's April 9th quick count breakdown.
At a Jakarta news conference, NasDem chief Surya Paloh pledged full support to PDI-P and hoped to soon continue discussions with PDI-P Chairman Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Minister of Manpower and Transmigration and PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, said there had been no coalition talks thus far about forming a coalition of Islamic parties.
"We will see the developments," Antara quoted him as saying.