Islamic parties win big in Indonesia

Contrary to widespread expectations, Islam-based parties surprised to capture a combined one-third of the vote in legislative elections.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

April 17, 2014
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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.

  • Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) supporters attend a pre-poll rally in Sidoarjo, East Java on March 30th. [Juni Kriswanto/AFP]

    Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) supporters attend a pre-poll rally in Sidoarjo, East Java on March 30th. [Juni Kriswanto/AFP]

"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.

Reader Comments
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    • Silamet
      May 26, 2014 @ 01:05:35PM
    • The devil based parties are still fractured which is a sign that the Dajjal still exists in those Islamic parties.
    • m.rhama al-qamary
      May 24, 2014 @ 10:05:55PM
    • Make this country into a country that is loved by Allah, not a country that will have to bear Allah's wrath.
    • hans mandowen
      May 11, 2014 @ 06:05:50AM
    • The president must be a nationalist and abide by the Pancasila.
    • Mohamad Amin
      May 11, 2014 @ 05:05:37AM
    • I would give my full support if Islamic parties unite in the upcoming presidential election. May Allah approve and that the elected president be truly Islamic so that their leadership will follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad SAW. This is what I have always wanted and prayed for.
    • santi febrianti
      May 9, 2014 @ 02:05:31AM
    • Wow, very good.
    • CECEP
      May 23, 2014 @ 11:05:55AM
    • Yes, for sure. #AWESOME
    • siox
      May 6, 2014 @ 10:05:27AM
    • Long live religion (including the parties), long live the Unified Republic of Indonesia, make the people prosper, make Indonesia strong and competitive.
    • h.muhiddin
      May 6, 2014 @ 06:05:26AM
    • Insya Allah, Islamic parties will unite towards the establishment of a prosperous society.
      May 12, 2014 @ 08:05:53AM
    • If the people would unite Islamic parties will certainly win. This is like coming out of a mosque, one by one so we become targets. Get rid of differences of opinion and only then can we become great. Come back to the Quran and As-Sunnah of Allah's Prophet Muhammad SAW. I guarantee that Muslims in Indonesia especially will win.
    • anangrahman
      May 5, 2014 @ 09:05:51AM
    • I support the formation of a coalition of Islamic based parties. Insya Allah, it will be stronger than other parties. Elect candidates who are truly trustworthy to lead the country.
    • gan
      May 8, 2014 @ 02:05:28PM
    • It's difficult, bro. The thing is, even the PKS leadership were involved in the corruption case involving imported beef. So, a religious background cannot guarantee that someone is clean.
    • chaky
      May 4, 2014 @ 07:05:59AM
    • Whether they are from a Muslim party or a nationalist party, it doesn't matter as long as the Indonesian president has good morals and prioritize the people's interests before his own. If necessary, Muslim parties should support on presidential candidate from a Muslim party such as Prabowo or Mrs. Any Yudhoyono.
    • Delmizar
      May 3, 2014 @ 05:05:35AM
    • Islamic parties should form a coalition and lead this country according to the Quran so that our Muslim majority country will be free of hypocrisy. Insyaallah, a rich and prosperous country will be established.
    • m. nahyan zulfikar
      May 3, 2014 @ 03:05:55AM
    • Assalammualaikum insyaallah, the black flag will be established in Indonesia. Fellow friends of faith, let us restore the Islamic ties in Indonesia and insyallah, Islamic sharia will be established in Indonesia. We will reflect from Aceh and will be followed by other provinces that want Islam to triumph and carry out sharia so that we will be saved in this world and the afterlife. Amin, allahu akbar..allahu akbar...allahu akbar.
    • ASMU'I
      May 2, 2014 @ 03:05:54AM
    • Yes, but it is a shame that Islamic parties do not yet have presidential candidates who are prominent in the public eye. Also, there is also doubt that they will be able to take on national problems. The most likely option is for the unification of Islamic parties to support a capable presidential candidate to championing the aspirations of Islam. Hopefully this would be realized, Amin.
    • aris ali
      April 30, 2014 @ 06:04:58PM
    • It doesn't matter who leads this country, what matters is that they will be able to advance and enrich the people, in body and soul. After accumulative analysis we find that between 2009 - 2014, most party members who become entangled in corruption come from Islam-based parties, not non Islam-based parties. It is embarrassing; they know it is Haram but they eat it anyway!
    • suratmin
      April 29, 2014 @ 08:04:15PM
    • If Islamic parties unite, it would be possible for them to be number one.
    • jaki
      May 5, 2014 @ 06:05:23AM
    • Yes.
    • M.Abd.Kholiq
      April 29, 2014 @ 03:04:29AM
    • The Great Indonesia coalition suggested by Amien Rais makes a lot of sense.
    • abu Khalid
      April 28, 2014 @ 08:04:20PM
    • If their intentions are for the good of the faithful, the parties aligned with Islam would prevail. I suggest to Mr. Joko that if we are indeed Muslims then we must first deliver on our promise and satisfy Allah.
    • jaki
      May 5, 2014 @ 06:05:27AM
    • Dubious.
    • thania
      April 27, 2014 @ 03:04:36AM
    • The president must be an observant Muslim. Don't forget to visit Face Islam.
    • mamae hayya
      April 26, 2014 @ 01:04:51AM
    • This country needs its Muslims to unite so that Islamic law can be established in our homeland. Examples include cases of murder and rape; if Dutch law is still used, people would make light of ending the life of another because the punishments are minor.
    • jaki
      May 5, 2014 @ 06:05:38AM
    • Yes.
    • Abu Hakim
      April 25, 2014 @ 09:04:17PM
    • Can Jokowi really lead Indonesia well? It is still a question. Is Jokowi truly free from the interests of Mega and foreigners? Remember what happened before, Mega was president for only a short while but how many national assets fell into foreign hands?
    • Nosetan1003
      April 24, 2014 @ 10:04:35PM
    • What this nation owes God is the promise that it will put values of faith at the forefront in the management of the country (read the independence text and the meaning of belief in the almighty God). This nation has been avoiding and even rejecting it and therefore the country along with its blessings in natural resources has never been a benefit to this nation.
    • jumasengrafini
      April 23, 2014 @ 10:04:10AM
    • Thank you to everyone.
    • Kangmas Sarjono
      April 22, 2014 @ 10:04:19PM
    • Fractures are forming within PPP itself, how can they form coalitions with other Islamic parties? If they are able, they should show restraint and let go of their selfishness for this period. They should not nominate their own presidential candidates but should nominate candidates from other parties.
    • lukman
      April 28, 2014 @ 05:04:29AM
    • God willing, the movement to merge Islamic parties will unite them under one law of their God, and will move away from the movements of devils.
    • muhammad al fadhil
      April 22, 2014 @ 09:04:20AM
    • Good.
    • supriyadi
      April 22, 2014 @ 08:04:44AM
    • We must work together to eradicate corruption so that our nation is secure and comfortable.
    • adi
      April 22, 2014 @ 03:04:55AM
    • It is time for Jokowi to lead this country.
    • zaenal
      April 24, 2014 @ 09:04:24AM
    • No, bro.
    • irwan endy mirza
      April 21, 2014 @ 12:04:57PM
    • I like this article.
    • Saiful Anwar
      April 20, 2014 @ 11:04:05AM
    • I approve of Islamic parties joining together, perhaps they would be able to lead this nation of Indonesia, Amin.
    • Iwan gondrong
      April 19, 2014 @ 06:04:55AM
    • They seem big but are still partitioned, unable to unite. It is a shame.
    • Basari
      April 18, 2014 @ 07:04:48PM
    • Insya Allah, the leader of the nation this time will come from a coalition of Islamic parties.

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