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Political Islam in Indonesia: Present and Future Trajectory

By Anies Rasyid Baswedan Abstract This article examines the dynamics of political Islam in the world's largest Muslim democracy. It analyzes the changes that have taken place in an increasingly pious electorate, the performance and organizational strength of six Islam-friendly political parties, and predicts the likely future trajectory of political Islam in Indonesia.

Since the early days of independence in 1945, Muslim leaders and Islamic political parties have struggled for the adoption of Syariah (Islamic divine law) into the Indonesian constitution.1 Their efforts have been met with persistent failure. For almost half a century, the debate between proponents and opponents of Syariah and constitutional change in the world's most populous Muslim nation has been largely static with few new arguments from either side. The latest attempt to adopt the Syariah occurred during the 2002 Annual Session of the Peoples Consultative Assembly. Once again it failed. This raises the questions: Will the struggle for Syariah subside? What will be the future objective of political Islam in Indonesia? What is the pattern of political Islam in Indonesia? Which of the Islamic political parties is most likely to succeed through the ballot box? These are essential questions for the world's largest Muslim democracy. To address those questions, this article will (1) describe political Islam in Indonesia, (2) outline what constitutes Islam-friendly political parties, (3) explain why a secular, nationalist party also represents political Islam, (4) analyze the dynamic of political Islam over the last five decades, (5) explore the changes that have taken place outside the political parties, and (6) examine the performance and organizational strength of political parties. This should give bases for generating some hypotheses regarding the likely form and trajectory of political Islam in the future.

Political Islam in Indonesia

Indonesian Muslims are heterogeneous and they comprise nearly 90 percent of 213 million Indonesians. They can be grouped into devout/practicing Muslims (santri) and nominal/nonpracticing Muslims (syncretist).2 Devout Muslims can be further sub-divided into traditionalists and modernists.3 Political Islam is a general term that has been applied to diverse phenomena. In this article it refers to efforts that promote "Muslim"4 aspirations and carry Islamic agenda into the laws and government policy through the electoral process and representational institutions (legislature). As 1

there is no consensus on what constitute "Muslim" aspirations and Islamic agenda, this article defines these as political aspirations and agenda ranging from the States moral foundation to policies produced by the State. These encompass the efforts to achieve formal-inclusion of the Syariah into the constitution as well as the efforts to promote government policies that are particularly supportive toward the progress and empowerment of "Muslim" society. In the early years after independence, Indonesia went through a period of liberal democracy. Political parties flourished and energized the young nation. In 1955, Indonesia held its first national election for the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Assembly. There were ten political parties based primarily on Islam that competed in both elections.5 Two Islamic political parties gained significant votes in the Constitutional Assembly election: the Consultative Assembly of Indonesian Muslims (Masyumi, Majelis Syuro Muslimin Indonesia) with 20.6% of the votes and the Revival of Islamic Scholars Party (NU, Nahdlatul Ulama) with 18.5%. On the other hand, the Indonesian National Party (PNI, Partai Nasional Indonesia) and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI, Partai Komunis Indonesia) won 24% and 16.5% respectively. The absence of a clear majority in the Constitutional Assembly resulted in prolonged and unresolved debate over the state's ideological basis. The secularists led by Sukarno (the first President of Indonesia and leader of PNI) promoted the Five-Principles (Pancasila6), the Islamists led by Muhammad Natsir (former Prime Minister and leader of Masyumi) promoted Islam as the state's foundational principle.7 Liberal democracy was short-lived. In 1959, Sukarno dissolved the Constitutional Assembly and established "Demokrasi Terpimpin" (Guided Democracy) which lasted until 1965. During this period, NU was the only Islamic party that continued to navigate through the shoals of domestic politics, while other parties were practically frozen. After the fall of Sukarno in 1966, followed by the emergence of Suharto and the Indonesian Army in the country's political leadership, Islamic political parties began to reorganize themselves. However, soon after taking power in 1966, Suharto's New Order indicated that it intended to contain political Islam. It prevented the reestablishment of Masyumi which had been the largest Islamic party in the 1950s. In 1973, political parties were simplified. Four Islamic political parties were "forced" to merge into a single party named the United Development Party (PPP, Partai Persatuan Pembangunan). In the early 1980s, the regime significantly increased its campaign to contain Islamic parties by requiring that all organizations adopt Pancasila as their asas tunggal (soleprinciple). This means all religiously oriented organizations were required to exchange their religious principles with the (secular) Pancasila. After PPP complied, adopting Pancasila as its sole principle and replacing the party's symbol of Ka'bah (the holy-house in Mecca) with a star, it started losing its attractiveness to "Muslim" constituents. On the other hand, the government party, Golkar, increasingly won "Muslim" votes. The policy of ideological homogenization8 and the withdrawal of NU support,9 resulted in PPP losing significant numbers of "Muslim" votes in the New Order's subsequent, managed elections.

Major Political Parties

After the fall of the Suharto in May 1998, new electoral laws were passed and political parties mushroomed. The sole principle policy was lifted and many organizations claimed Islam as their 2

ideology. Among 141 new political parties, 42 or nearly one-third were Islamic, defined as parties that either explicitly claim Islam as their ideology or that draw support mostly from Islamic organizations. This number was subsequently reduced as only 20 Islamic parties qualified to compete in the 1999 election.10 The result of the 1999 election indicated that only seven parties are major players in the political arena. First is the Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle (PDIP, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan). It is a secular and nationalist party that won a plurality of votes (34%) in the 1999 election. PDIP is chaired by Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno. The other six parties, can be considered "Islam-friendly" political parties. With the term Islam-friendly, I mean parties that do not necessarily adopt Islam as their ideology but they welcome, uphold, and are sensitive to the aspirations of Indonesian "Muslims". In all of these six parties, their leaders as well as their representatives in the Indonesian legislatures are predominantly from santri background. Below is a brief description of these six Islam-friendly parties. 1. The United Development Party (PPP, Partai Persatuan Pembangunan). It was founded in 1973 through a forced merger of the four Islamic parties: NU, the Indonesian Muslims Party (Parmusi, Partai Muslimin Indonesia), the Indonesian Islamic United Party (PSII, Partai Syarikat Islam Indonesia), and the Islamic Education Movement Party (Perti, Partai Pergerakan Tarbiyah Islam). In 2001, Hamzah Haz, the chairman of PPP, was elected Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia. 2. The Moon and Star Party (PBB, Partai Bulan Bintang). It was founded in July 1998 and resembles the largest Islamic party of the 1950's, Masyumi. After Sukarno banned Masyumi in 1960, the party transformed itself into the Islamic Predication Board of Indonesia (DDII, Dewan Da'wah Islamiyah Indonesia) in order to maintain its members and its leadership network. Some former members of Masyumi, Keluarga Bulan Bintang (the Moon and Star Family), were prime movers in the establishment of PBB. 3. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera). It was founded with the name of Justice Party in July 1998.11 It is a completely new party that emerged from the University Students' Body for Islamic Predication (LDK, Lembaga Da'wah Kampus) beginning in the early 1980s. Since the suppression of the student movement in 1977-1978, Islamic student activists have "escaped" to the mosques and focused their activity on predication. Inspired by the Ikhwanul Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) movement in Egypt, the LDK grew rapidly since the early 1980s and its alumni entered the political arena by establishing the Justice Party. 4. The National Awakening Party (PKB, Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa). It was founded in July 1998 by the NU leadership. As there were four parties affiliated with NU, the role of Abdurrahman Wahid (Chairman of NU in 1984-1999 and the President of Indonesia in 1999-2001) was vital in making PKB the "official" party of NU.12 Although, it relies largely on the support of the countrys largest Islamic organization, PKBs official party ideology is Pancasila. 5. The National Mandate Party (PAN, Partai Amanat Nasional). It was founded in August 1998 by activists involved in opposing the Suharto regime and led by Amien Rais (Chairman of Muhammadiyah 1995-1998 and leader of the 1998 reform movement to overturn Suharto). PAN has been closely associated with members of Muhammadiyah.13 Initially it espoused ideological pluralism but shortly after the 1999 election, for reasons to be discussed shortly, its Islamic coloration has strengthened. 3

6. The Golkar Party (Golkar, Partai Golkar). It was founded in 1964 and was the ruling party during Suharto's New Order. It won six consecutive "managed" elections during Suharto's tenure. Golkar leaders in the post-Suharto era have had Islamic credentials. The current chairman and House Speaker, Akbar Tandjung, is a former leader of the Islamic University Students Association (HMI, Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam). In addition, Golkar supported B.J. Habibie, former Chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI, Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia) for the Presidency during the 1999 general and presidential elections. The group of Islam-friendly parties is intrinsically diverse. PBB, PPP, and PKS are Islamist parties and explicitly refer to Islam as their platform. The other two parties (PKB and PAN) implicitly refer to Islam and appear inclusive. The last of these six Islam-friendly parties is Golkar, a secular and nationalist party but upholds and welcomes "Muslim" aspirations.

Distinguishing Golkar from PDIP

Scholars have rarely associated Golkar with Islam. Most observers classify Golkar as a nationalist, secular, and pluralistic party, similar to PDIP. Therefore, before discussing the variation and dynamic of political Islam, I will explore more on why Golkar, and not PDIP, is included in the group of Islam-friendly parties. Two factors that distinguish Golkar from PDIP: (1) response toward "Muslim" aspirations, and (2) party recruitment and leadership. The first factor is regarding their response toward "Muslim" aspirations. Their difference can be traced to the discourse in the 1980s. Proponents of secular state divided into two camps in viewing to the relationship between "Muslim" aspiration and the sustainability of Pancasila as non-religious philosophy of the country.14 Here, I introduced the terms "Secular-exclusive" and "Secularinclusive". The former refers to the view that strictly excludes any Islam-inspired agenda, and the latter refers to the view that Islam-inspired agenda is welcome to the extent that it corresponds with and does not contradict with Pancasila. This categorization is helpful in analyzing the competing views among secularists in Indonesia. One camp perceived Pancasila as compatible with Islam; therefore "Muslims" should not pursue the establishment of an Islamic State but pursue the development of Islamic society. This secularinclusive view was promoted by Nurcholish Madjid, former leader of HMI and vocal proponent of de-linking the formal relation between the State and Islam. He argued that the development of Islamic society "should be considered in exactly the sense that United States is a Christian society imbued with Judeo-Christian values."15 This camp also claimed that it is natural and legitimate for "Muslims" to expect the government to reflect the moral values of Islam while maintaining its nonreligious based State. The other camp shared the view on the compatibility of Pancasila with Islam but perceived the development of Islamic society and the accommodation of Islamic moral values and "Muslim" aspirations by the government as the beginning of Islamization of the State. Therefore, it is dangerous to the existence of the secular state and to the existence of tolerance toward minorities groups (religious and ethnic).16 This secular-exclusive view was promoted by Abdurrahman Wahid.

By late 1980s, after the sole principle policy had already been accepted widely by Islamic organizations, Suharto began shifting his politics from secular-exclusive into secular-inclusive. He started to view the development of Islamic society and accommodation of "Muslim" aspirations as acceptable,17 and to take great advantage of it. Suharto's shift and the emergence of ICMI into politics in the early 1990s polarized the political stage along these different interpretations. On one side, secularist leaders of the Indonesian Armed Forces, Golkar, the bureaucracy, as well as a large portion of activists for democracy adhered to the secular-exclusive idea. This group formed mild opposition toward Suhartos shift and his patronage with "Muslim" activists. On the other side, "Muslims" in the bureaucracy, portions of Golkar, and the ICMI leaderships adhered to the secular-inclusive ideas, and they supported Suharto. The latter group stayed on Suhartos side and succeeded in nominating B.J. Habibie to become vice president and eventually become president after Suharto's resigned in May 1998. Today, these two secularist views are represented in the two major secular parties of Golkar and PDIP. Golkar continues what Suharto had set out to do in the last few years of his presidency: adhering to the inclusion of Islamic moral values and welcoming "Muslims". Whereas PDIP--given its leadership makeup of exclusive-secularists, nationalists, and non-Muslim--retains the second view which prevents the inclusion of religious (Islam) inspired ideas in government. The second factor is party recruitment and leadership. In the 1950s and early 1960s HMI was closely linked to Masyumi. HMI was the driving force behind student movements in the 1960s and 1970s. It attracted an extensive membership and established chapters in almost every university. HMI competed, often fiercely, with the National Student Movement of Indonesia (GMNI, Gerakan Mahasiswa Nasional Indonesia) for the leadership of university student bodies throughout Indonesia. GMNI was closely linked to Sukarno's PNI. In 1973, the PNI was forcefully fused with four other nationalist, Christian, and secular parties, becoming the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia).18 Hence the HMI and the GMNI had very distinctive ideologies. HMI was based on Islam and linked to various Islamic organizations while GMNI was based on Sukarno's Nationalism and secularism. During the Suhartos New Order, there was a general pattern of former student activists entering partisan politics: HMI alumni commonly entered PPP or Golkar, while GMNI alumni joined PDI. Helped by Suhartos political shift, a large number of HMI alumni who previously were marginal players in Golkar began to play more dominant roles in early 1990s and were able to gain control of Golkar since 1998. One should note that HMI alumni play dominant roles in all Islam-friendly political parties, except in PKB.19 Today, legislators from Golkar are 83% Muslim, largely with Santri background and almost half of them have had experience in HMI or ICMI. On the other hand, legislators from PDIP are 62% Muslim20 and more than one-third are former GMNI activists.21 The fact that a large proportion of Santri in the Golkar party leadership and in its legislators cannot be separated from the schism that took place during the national convention of Golkar in August 1998. At that convention, the election of the party leader was extremely competitive and polarized along the secular-inclusive vs. the secular-exclusive line. The secular-exclusive wing of the party led by General Edy Sudrajat, former Chairman of the Indonesian Armed Forces, failed to secure the leadership position. This resulted in a fracture in Golkar. Sudrajat and his supporters left Golkar 5

and established a new party, the Justice and Unity Party (PKP, Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan). The secular-inclusive wing of Golkar (predominantly former HMI and ICMI members) gained control over the partys leadership. These distinct characteristics of Golkar could surface when it faced bold "Muslim" aspirations. A good example is when the House of Representatives debated the contentious National Education System Bill in early 2003, a bill that incited heated debates throughout the country. Religious course, which is mandatory in public and private schools, is now required by this bill to be taught according to the students religion and by a teacher of that faith. It means a religious course in a religious affiliated private school can be different from that of the schools religious affiliation.22 Here Golkar sided with the Islamist and Islam-inclusive parties to support the bill while PDIP was the only major party opposed to the bill, and the bill was eventually passed.23 PDIPs persistence on this issue indicates the dominance of secular-exclusive view in the party despite the fact that the share of "Muslim" votes in PDIP was high.24 This also shows how PDIP still relies on its traditional constituents, namely secularists, non-Muslims, and ethnic minorities, while Golkar had already acknowledged the importance of its "Muslim" electoral support.25 This case shows how the mixture of (1) secular-inclusive view, (2) Santri in the leadership, and (3) "Muslim" constituents reveals an overlooked side of Golkar. This is why Golkar is included in the group of Islam-friendly parties. However, as a result of being historically identified with Suharto's regime, hence heavily supported by the armed forces and the bureaucracy, and being formally pluralistic, the secular-inclusive character of Golkar is often veiled.

Diversity of Political Islam

In the 1950s political Islam was identical with Islamic parties. They pursued the establishment of an Islamic State with the formal adoption of Syariah, although they varied in their level of commitment, e.g. Masyumi was more committed than NU on those Islamist agendas. However, dynamic interactions between "Muslim" aspirations and the politics of secular Pancasila during the 1950s and during Suhartos tenure have resulted in the pluralism of political Islam, not only in the electorates but in the parties official platforms as well. Today, even the views of Islamic organizations such as NU and Muhammadiyah have become pluralistic. They have departed from their position in the 1950s, as they no longer share the agenda of formally adopting the Syariah into the constitution. This does not mean that NU or Muhammadiyah are no longer Islamic or are no longer articulating "Muslim" aspirations. Their views simply reflect the realization among many "Muslims" and their leaders that even without formal adoption of Syariah in the constitution and formal Islamic political parties, "Muslim" aspirations can be fulfilled by the State. The focus is no longer on how to bring Islam into the foundation of the State, but how to bring Islamic coloration into policies produced by the State. By adhering to Pancasila and not focusing on the incorporation of Syariah into the constitution, "Muslims" have been able to promote an Islamic agenda like the Basic Law of Religious Justice in 1989 (Law No. 7, 1989) and the Compilation of Islamic Law in 1991 (Presidential Instruction No. 1, 1991).26 Both are based on Syariah. This success changed the status of Syariah in the Indonesian legal system. As M.B. Hooker observed, until the early 1990s, "the 6

status of Syariah in the Indonesian legal system was as much as the Dutch had left it."27 This departure shows that "Muslims" have become more pragmatic in their politics by focusing more on policies level than on the State's philosophical foundation. In light of these developments, any analysis of political Islam and political parties should not overlook these dynamics, nor should one assume that political Islam has been static and united in focused on Syariah and the ideological basis of the State. Instead, in the post-Suharto era there is an interesting spectrum of political Islam in Indonesia. Political Islam is now represented by parties that are more diverse in platform. It comprises those who still support the formalization of relationship between the State and Islam and those who support a non-religious-based State but welcome the incorporation of Islamic values and "Muslim" aspirations into government policy. (See Figure 1).

Today, the six Islam-friendly parties represent the transformation of political Islam. These parties are not only varied in their commitment to Islamist agenda but they are strongly divided on this agenda. Yet, they all welcome and uphold "Muslim" aspirations. Among these six Islam-friendly parties, three parties (PBB, PPP, and PKS) clearly adhere to Islam as their ideology. PPP and PBB pursue somewhat similar platforms as Islamic parties did in the 1950s. PKS does not elevate Islamic State and Syariah in its current political agenda. These three 7

parties are Islamist and they fit what most scholars commonly understand as Islamic parties. PKB and PAN derive support from Islamic organizations while appearing pluralistic. PKB formally espouses the ideology of Pancasila, but actually serves as the political arm of NU. PAN is similar to PKB in promoting a pluralistic ideology. Although PAN has been closely associated with Muhammadiyah through its leader, Amien Rais, and through many local Muhammadiyah officials, who serve as PAN functionaries, it has maintained its pluralism by accommodating nonMuhammadiyah and non-Muslim members. Only after PAN's National Congress in February 2000 did the Islamic wing of the party prevail over the secular wing. One can see that PAN and PKB are Islam-Inclusive parties as their platforms do not explicitly focus on pursuing an Islamic agenda; rather, they draw support from Islamic leaders and from Islamic organizations. The last of my Islam-friendly parties is Golkar. This party has no formal relationship with any Islamic organization and claims to be a non-sectarian party. But, as explained earlier, through its secular-inclusive view and its leadership that is predominantly santri, it welcomes "Muslim" aspirations.

What is unique in Golkar, PAN, and PKB is that they welcome "Muslim" political aspirations, but they all are in opposition to the formal adoption of Syariah in the constitution. The variation among Islam-friendly parties and the aforementioned distinction between Golkar and PDIP shows that categorical division of political parties into secular and Islamic camps, on the basis of the party's formal ideology, is inaccurate. The seven major parties in Indonesia represent a continuum of secular-exclusive on one end, and Islamist on the other. This argument that political Islam has been transformed is also supported by the fact that patterns of electoral support for political parties in 1999 can be linked to the 1950's. A comparison of the 1955 and the 1999 elections by Dwight King revealed that there are continuities in the two free elections. His study showed that these Islam-friendly political parties derived support from localities which previously supported Islamic political parties in the 1955 election.28 This means areas that voted heavily for Islamic parties in 1955 tended to support Islam-friendly political parties in 1999.

Source: The General Election Commission (KPU, Komisi Pemilihan Umum) * Discrepancy due to rounding.

In the 1955 election for the House of Representatives, Islamic parties combined won 44% of votes. In 1999, Islam-friendly parties combined won 56% of votes, a clear majority (See figure 3). It is true that Islamist parties combined (PBB, PPP, and PKS) won only 14% of votes. But to argue that political Islam is only represented by this 14% of votes is empirically misleading. Given the colorful spectrum of today's political Islam, any analysis of parties representing political Islam in 1999 should also include Islam-inclusive parties of PKB (12.6%) and PAN (7.1%), and the SecularInclusive party of Golkar (22.4%). Furthermore, by looking at the 1955 and 1999 elections, one can see that the support for political Islam is not only growing, but with more than half of Indonesian voters voting for Islam-friendly political parties, political Islam has the potential of dominating Indonesian politics.

Changes in the Political Environment

The potential of dominating Indonesian politics might materialize given the various significant changes in the political environment that have taken place since the 1999 election. There are at least four changes: First is greater political awareness. Through their experience during the 1999 election, "Muslim" voters acquaintance with the new political parties was enhanced. Therefore, it is possible that voters may cast their vote in future elections differently than they did in the 1999 election. In 1999, the electorate voted heavily for established political parties; political parties that have been around for some time, like Golkar, PPP, and PKB29, secured almost half of the votes (45%). Both Golkar and PPP were established early in Suhartos New Order. PKB is basically as familiar as NU, and in addition to that NUs ulama (religious scholars) retain strong influence over the electorate in certain regions.

These inferences are consistent with the 2002 survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM, Pusat Pengkajian Islam dan Masyarakat). PPIM survey found that 81% of voters cast their votes based on general familiarity with a party. Of those respondents, 47% said that they voted based on general party recognition, 17% voted for a party leader, and 17% voted for religious affiliation. Only 11% of voters actually cast their vote based on the partys platform and agenda.30 Now as "new" political parties (i.e. those that emerged less than one year prior to the 1999 election) will no longer be "new" in the next elections, it is therefore reasonable to expect increased voter familiarity with these parties. This could result in some change in the distribution of votes among Islam-friendly political parties. Although the distribution of votes among these new parties is yet unclear, some hypotheses will be ventured below. A second change in the environment is the impact of staggered elections. The recent changes to the Electoral Law allow the Presidential and the general elections to be held separately. A staggered election could result in changes in voters behavior. In 1999, the president was elected indirectly. The legislative election was under the cloud of the presidential election as voters cast their votes for a party with a presidential candidate in mind. The larger the number of legislative seats, the more control over the votes for a particular candidate. Legislative candidates at the national, regional or district levels were very often free riders as they benefited from the popularity of their partys presidential candidate. PDIP, for instance, attracted large votes in part because of its support for Megawati's presidential candidacy. With the new electoral law, voters will be able to separate their vote for president and for members of legislatures. In the election of legislators, voters may vote for the party whose candidate they trust without worrying about its affect on the presidential election. This means that reliance on the presidential candidate may not necessarily be helpful in gaining votes for that party's candidates for the legislature. Third, Decentralization. Decentralization that has taken place since 1999 has been a powerful force in shaping local politics. However, based on my own field observation the recent explosion in political participation occurred before the implementation of new decentralization policies,31 unlike many developing countries.32 It was the fall of Suharto's regime that indeed sparked dramatic increase in political participation at the regional and local levels. However, now that decentralization is being implemented, this political participation is increasingly focused less on national issues and more on local issues. Parties and the district legislatures are under pressure to improve their performance. Islamic organizations operating at the grassroots level are now able to voice local political issues. A party that has extensive local networks and has underaken advocacy at the local level would likely gain more votes. In addition, political parties that engage their members constantly--unlike parties during the New Order era which engaged their members only during campaigns and elections every five years--will be more likely to gain supporters. Thus, political party engagement at the local level might bear fruit (votes) in the next elections. Fourth, Muslim voters agreement with the general idea of Islamic government and Syariah. 10

According to the 2002 PPIM nationwide survey, 67.0% of Muslim respondents agree that Islamic government is best for Indonesia and 70.8% of Muslim respondents agree that the state should require Indonesian Muslims to follow the Syariah. However, this is balanced by low percentages in favor of the State's enforcement of fasting (12.9%) and of five daily prayers (9.9%).33 This reflects ambiguity of Muslim respondents: they conform on the general idea of adopting Syariah but they dispute over how it should be implemented. However, this is nothing new. One should note that even in the 1950s when "Muslim" leaders and the elite of Islamic political parties converged on promoting Islamic State and the adoption of Syariah, their views on the details of how those would be implemented were diverse.34 Concerned over disagreements, these "Muslim" leaders opted to avoid elaborating on the details but emphasized the bigger and more general term of the Islamic State and Syariah where all parties can agree. This shows that there had been ongoing discourse and difference over how Islamic government and Syariah be implemented, and that is reflected in this survey as well. Yet, as with the elite of Islamic parties in the 1950s, Muslim respondents today can agree upon the acceptance of the Islamic Government and Syariah in their general term. This is contrary to the situation in national politics since 1945, where establishment of the Islamic State and adoption of Syariah into the constitution--even in its general terms--has always been unacceptable. This survey shows that "Muslim" voters, in principal, do not differ with the classical agenda of Islamic parties: the establishment of Islamic state and Syariah. It suggests a potential opening for Islamist political parties to pursue the classical agenda of establishing an Islamic state and of the adoption of the Syariah. However, during the 1999 election Syariah was not a popular issue. Despite the fact that the majority of "Muslim" voters agree on the idea of an Islamic state and on the adoption of Syariah, their voting behavior did not reflect this agreement, which shows that these issues were not at the top of "Muslim" voters preferences. Apparently, "Muslim" voters agree with the ideas in principle, but they differ on how these ideas should be implemented and they do not see the urgency of adopting them. The aforementioned four factors are bases for claiming that fertile ground exists for Islam-friendly political parties to attract considerable support from "Muslim" voters in the future. Comparing Political Parties There are at least three approaches to studying and comparing political parties, namely sociological, institutional, and competitive.35 This article uses the sociological approach and develops eight variables to undertake a comparative analysis as shown in Table 1. Although my focus of analysis in this article is solely on the six Islam-friendly political parties, I include PDIP in this table to provide a larger picture of the current posture of the Indonesian political parties. The inclusion of PDIP is a useful baseline for predicting electoral shift that may take place in future elections.


The first variable is a partys base. PKB is the only regionally based party. It relied on voters from East and Central Java where NU has an extensive and solid grassroots base as reflected in the 1999 election where 83% of PKB votes was gained in these two provinces. Only Golkar and PDIP that clearly were able to gain significant support nationwide. The other parties gained a more or less equal share of votes from various regions across the country. Some parties may perform better in certain regions, but their electoral support did not entail certain patterns of regional support. In the long run, parties with non-regional based support will have the advantage as they are not perceived as being parties of a certain region and they should be able to capture new votes. The second variable is a partys reliance on the appeal of its leader. PAN and PKB are the two 12

parties that rely heavily upon their key figure: PAN depends on Amien Rais while PKB relies on Abdurrahman Wahid. PPP was not relying on its leaders during the 1999 election. Similar to PBB, today PPP to some degree is more dependent upon its leader to gain mass support given that they are holding key government positions (Vice President of Indonesia and Cabinet Minister). However, they are not as dependent on party leader's appeal as PDIP, PKB and PAN. In 1999, Golkar relied on the nomination of Habibie for presidency to gain votes in the eastern islands of Indonesia, but it no longer relies much on its leader. Since its creation in 1998, PKS has not relied on certain individuals to appeal to the public. In the long run, dependence on a prominent party leader or on certain key figures may not be helpful, as support for the party may simply be a response to personal charisma and may not be sustainable. Party support that relies less on a prominent figure may be more sustainable in the long run. The third variable is internal party conflict. All parties, except PKS, experienced some degree of conflict. PKS has been able to contain its internal differences and to prevent internal schism. Golkar has recently experienced two major conflicts: the National Meeting in 1998 resulted in the departure of the secular-exclusive wing led by Edy Sudrajat. And second, after the loss of Habibie in the 1999 presidential election, some factions continuously and openly challenged Tandjungs leadership. PKB had two contending leaders after the fall of President Abdurrahman Wahid: Mathori and Alwi Shihab. Within PPP, a split occurred between a wing led by Hamzah Haz and a wing of Zainuddin MZ. The PBB split with one faction under the leadership of Yusril Ihza Mahendra and another under Hartono Mardjono. The 2000 PAN congress resulted in the departure of the pluralist and secular wing led by its Secretary General, Faisal Basri. Here two factors play crucial roles: party discipline and party homogeneity. Fragmentation and break-ups indicate the inability of party elites to put party interests over their factions interests. Ability to contain differences and retain party solidarity is key to predicting its long-term sustainability. The fourth variable is relation with past political power. Golkar is carrying heavy baggage in being identified with the New Order although recent polls showed increasing nostalgia for "the good old days." PPP is less tinted than Golkar yet its politicians were also domesticated by the New Order. PBB is a new incarnation of Masyumi with its classical political agenda. Among parties that attempted to revive Masyumi, PBB is the biggest and the one supported by former leaders of Masyumi in DDII. PKB is also a revival of an earlier political party of NU. Indeed, as King indicates these six parties cultivate votes from districts that in 1955 voted favorably for Islamic political parties; among Islam-friendly parties only PBB and PKB can be considered as continuation of Masyumi and NU respectively. PBB was formed by those who retain the spirit of Masyumi through DDII, and PKB was formed by leaders of NU. PAN and PKS were the only parties that emerged in 1998, which had no substantial historical-political baggage. As new generations of Indonesians emerge, parties of the past may become less attractive. Here, PAN and PKS have the advantage of not being associated with the past and of having emerged after the fall of Suharto. The fifth variable is affiliation with major religious groups. The devout Indonesian Muslim modernist and traditionalist camps are reflected in the two mainstream religious organizations: Muhammadiyah and NU. Muhammadiyah is often associated with urban "Muslims" while NU retains strong influence over their rural members.36 Unlike NU, which officially supported PKB, in 1999 Muhammadiyah did not officially endorse any political party.


Among these Islam-friendly parties, PKB is clearly identified with NU, while PAN is closely associated with Muhammadiyah. Golkar, PPP, PKS, and PBB37 are more neutral. These more neutral parties have the advantage of being able to cultivate votes from either Muhammadiyah or NU members, and from "Muslims" who belong to neither of these organizations. Unlike half a century ago, frictions between theological interpretations are becoming less contentious and might eventually diminish. Here, Golkar, PPP, PBB and PKS have the advantage, as each is perceived as unrelated with or not representing one of the two mainstream Islamic organizations. The sixth variable is emphasis on the partys activities. Almost all parties emphasize the importance of the legislative process. They try to compensate for the lack of peoples voice in the governance process during Suhartos New Order by offering avenues for articulating people's concerns. Even Golkar, that was previously conservative, reached out to appear populist.38 Islamic parties as well emphasize their activities on producing laws that fulfill the aspirations of their "Muslim" constituents. These parties emphasize the peoples agenda, appearing populist, and focusing their activities on election and the legislative process. PKS takes a different strategy, given that it controls only a small number of legislature seats; it is not emphasizing procedural legislature but public service.39 In many recent crisis situations (e.g. ethnic/religious conflicts, natural disaster), PKS set-up so-called "Justice Post" (Pos Keadilan) to provide assistance which was institutionalized into Pos Keadilan Peduli Umat [Justice post concerning Muslim society]. Later, it included assistance to farmers in selling their under-priced crops. Other parties occasionally come with direct assistance through symbolic aid-giving of the party leaders covered by the mass-media but these assistances were temporary and un-institutionalized. In the wake of deep economic crises, any party that focuses not only on democratic representation, but also on providing direct public services should be perceived positively. This direct service should contribute to the making of the partys image as caring for the people's affairs, and it may be reflected in electoral support. The seventh variable is members engagement in the party. All parties except PKS and--to a certain extent--PKB operate somewhat according to periodic mobilization format. Perhaps this is left over from the New Order. In Golkar, PPP, PBB, and PAN, party members are heavily involved during campaigns and elections, be they national, regional or local. Although there is wider liberty for party leadership to engage extensively in grassroots political activities, members' engagement is still limited to certain celebrations. One should note that PKB is somewhat different from the aforementioned four parties. As an extension of NU, PKB benefits from numerous mass gatherings conducted by ulama [religious scholars] in various regions. This is not regular and year-round members' engagement but these gatherings provide an avenue for PKB to engage more intensely with its members. Only PKS maintains year-round activities for its members. PKS and the Tarbiyah [Islamic education] movement are inseparable. The Tarbiyah movement engages its members through hundred, if not thousands, of regular, often weekly, gathering where each gathering is attended by small number of members. These are not meetings of party elites; in fact, they are attended by the masses. This means PKS has access to thousands of its member regularly. These meetings of PKS members do not necessarily focus on political issues, often they are geared 14

more toward advancement of religious understanding. However, they become catalysts for members' continuous engagement, new member recruitment, and establishing party's discipline. Given its extensive and regular engagement, PKS has political machinery so well-oiled that it can mobilize its members quickly, as a result, it will not need a jump-start at election time. The eighth variable is Syariah. Among the three political parties that explicitly refer to Islam as their ideology, PBB and PPP advocate the formal adoption of Syariah into the constitution. Their latest attempt to adopt Syariah was made during the 2002 Annual Session of the Peoples Consultative Assembly. While PKS abstained from the vote, the other Islam-friendly parties, namely Golkar, PKB, and PAN, voted against the adoption of Syariah. On the importance of Syariah, PBB, PPP, and PKS share similar view but they differ on the way of to promote it. PBB and PPP choose to take a short cut by using a constitutional amendment to incorporate the requirement for Muslims to practice Syariah, regardless of the actual level of understanding and acceptance by Muslims in general. PKS does not focus on the formal adoption of Syariah into the constitution but on the da'wah (Islamic predication), that is to educate the masses on Syariah and if this effort were successful then eventually, it would be reflected in the electorate. Here one may see that PKS views Syariah as a long-term agenda while PBB and PPP view Syariah as a short-term agenda. This is an important distinction among Islamist political parties that is often overlooked. As discussed earlier, electoral support for the adoption of Syariah is still small. Given this low electoral support, it is disadvantageous for Islam-friendly political parties to continue focusing on this issue if they want to gain wider voters support.

The argument presented here is that political Islam in Indonesia has been transformed and diversified. Political Islam is no longer equivalent with Islamist aspiration. Unlike during the liberal democracy in the 1950s and early years the New Order where political Islam meant advocating Islamist agenda, today diversity and pragmatism in "Muslim" aspirations characterize political Islam. Political Islam is not only represented by political parties with Islam as their formal platform but by Islam-friendly political parties that are multi-colored: Islamist, Islam-inclusive, and Secularinclusive parties. Future electoral support will be affected by four changes that are now underway, namely, 1) the greater electorate's acquaintance toward new the Islam-friendly parties, 2) the adoption of staggered elections, 3) the increased attention on local issues, and 4) the diminishing popularity of the classical Islamist agenda. These changes will give voters greater opportunity to engage in strategic voting in the presidential and general elections. In the future elections, we should begin to see the effects of this strategic voting. We can expect changes in the distribution of electoral support among political parties. These changes should reflect the effects of the eight aforementioned variables as follows (see Table 1). In a staggered election, the reliance on a presidential candidate will be less valuable (Variable 2). Internal party conflicts and schisms will dampen party support (Variable 3). Strong association with certain religious organizations (Variable 5) and with political power of the past (Variable 4) will limit political parties from gaining more extensive and inclusive support. As local issues become more dominant, political parties with inter-regional network (Variable 1) and with more intensive 15

members' involvement (Variable 7) should attract new recruits and voters. Furthermore, emphasis of party activities on direct public service will be attractive (Variable 6). Given the fact that electoral support for Islamist agenda remains low, parties which do not prioritize the adoption of Syariah into the constitution will likely gain wider support (Variable 8). Electoral shift from parties that lack a comparative advantage on these variables should benefit other parties that maintain a comparative advantage. Four variables (see Table 1) seem particularly significant in shaping future electoral support; they are 1) independence from certain national figures, 2) emphasis on partys activities, 3) members' engagement, and 4) a partys position on Syariah. The interactions between these four major variables that result in electoral shifts will shape future patterns of political Islam in Indonesia. Today, Islam-inclusive and secular-inclusive parties are still dominant. Yet, the above comparative analysis indicates that PKS has the potential to emerge as a major player as well, provided that it is able to connect with pious but pluralistic electorates. However one should note that a partys possession of organizational strengths is one thing, but attracting a significant block of votes to become a major player and thereby shifting the current balance between Islamist, Islam-inclusive, and Secular-inclusive, is another. The latter will depend on how voters reaction toward these eight variables affects all political parties (including PDIP). In other words, the potential for shifting the balance exists but, as in any other democracy, voters will decide whether and when the shift can take place. Lastly, if Islam-friendly parties are able to retain their majority in the future elections, we can predict that there will be more Islam-inspired laws and policies (similar to the National Education System Law). These Islam-inspired agendas should exclude the formalization of the relationship between the State and Islam, provided that Islam-inclusive and Secular-inclusive parties still maintain their dominance among Islam-friendly parties.

This article is forthcoming in Asian Survey and is based on a paper presented at the conference on "Political Islam in Southeast Asia" at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, March 25, 2003. The author is a Ph.D. student in political science at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115. He wishes to thank Professor Dwight Y. King for the invaluable advice and discussions, and an anonymous reviewer for the constructive comments. E-mail: <>.



The agenda was to make constitutional amendment to require Muslims to practice Syariah (Law that is explicitly prescribed in the Qur'an and the Sunnah [traditions, sayings, and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad]). [return to text] Some scholars have argued that the recent Indonesian Muslim dynamics have made these 16


distinctions less apparent than when first formulated by Clifford Geertz five decades ago; they are no longer accurate in describing the religious pattern of Indonesian society, as all Muslims have become increasingly pious. However, I would argue that, while these distinctions might have melted down in everyday Indonesian life, they are still operating in Indonesian politics. This categorization is still useful for understanding the polarization of the political elite and for analyzing political Islam in Indonesia. [return to text]

These are definition in regard to Fiqh [jurisprudence or understanding of the Syariah as expressed in concrete rules]. Traditionalists in Indonesia follow the Syafi'i school of jurisprudence. Modernists advocate personal and direct approach to Qur'an and Sunnah to interpret God's intention. Both adhere to the Sunni tradition. [return to text] The term "Muslim" (with quotation marks) refers only to the devout/practicing Muslim. The term Muslim (without quotation marks) refers to all Muslim (the devout/practicing and the nominal/non-practicing).[return to text] In 1955, there were two elections: the House of Representatives election was on September 29 and the Constitutional Assembly election was on December 15. [return to text] Pancasila is the Indonesian State philosophy. Pancasila means "five principles" which are 1) belief in the one and only God, 2) the just and civilized humanity, 3) the unity of Indonesia, 4) democracy guided by the inner wisdom of unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives, and 5) social justice for the whole people of Indonesia.[return to text] Graham Fuller defined an Islamist as "anyone who believes, and actively attempts to implement the notion that the Qur'an and the tradition of the Hadith should be used to help guide the way societies and governments are run." <> Drawing from this definition, the term Islamist in this article refers to those who promotes formalization of the relationship between the State and Islam (e.g. establishing an Islamic State or adopting Syariah into the constitution) through the democratic process. For analytical purposes, an "Islamist" differs from a "Muslim" in the sense that the former refers to "Muslim" with the aforementioned political agenda. These terms serve for their analytical meaning, not theological or normative. [return to text] Robert W. Hefner, Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization In Indonesia, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) p. 121. [return to text] NU was a non-political Islamic organization founded in 1926, became a political party in 1952, and participated in 1955 and 1971 elections. In 1973, NU was merged into PPP. In 1984, NU declared kembali ke khittah [return to origin] as a non-political religious movement, and officially retreated from partisan politics. NU remained neutral until it made a return into partisan politics by establishing PKB in July 1998.[return to text] Arskal Salim, Partai Islam dan Relasi Agama-Negara [Islamic Party and State-Religion Relationship], (Jakarta: Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih Untuk Rakyat, 1999). [return to text] The election law only allows parties with more than 2% of the seats in the House of Representatives to compete in the subsequent election. The Justice Party controls only 1.4% of the seats; therefore, on July 3, 2003 it was renamed the Prosperous Justice Party, passed the verification process, and was eligible to run in the 2004 election. The acronym PKS in this article refers to both, its old and new names. [return to text] 17










Four parties attempted to cultivate votes from NU members: the National Awakening Party (PKB), the People's Awakening Party (PKU), the Nahdlatul Ulama Party (PNU), and the United Indonesian National Solidarity Party (SUNI). The NU National Board declared PKB as the official party of NU. See "Partai Peserta Pemilu 1999" [Parties in the 1999 general election], Harian Kompas [Kompas daily newspaper] (Jakarta, Indonesia), March 6, 1999. [return to text] Muhammadiyah founded in 1912 by Ahmad Dahlan, in Yogyakarta. It is the second largest Islamic organization and is often associated with Muslim modernism. [return to text] For extensive analyses regarding the discourse on Muslim's aspiration and Pancasila see Dauglas E. Ramage, Politics in Indonesia. Democracy, Islam and the Ideology of Tolerance, (London: Routlege, 1995). [return to text] Ramage, Politics in Indonesia, p.81. [return to text] Ramage, Politics in Indonesia, p.64 [return to text] Among them are the opening of non-interest banks and ICMI, acknowledgment of the equality of the religious (Islamic) court with the civil court, and discontinuing the ban on wearing Jilbab (girl's veil) in public schools. See Hefner, Civil Islam, pp. 18-19. [return to text] Megawati Sukarnoputri was elected chair of PDIP in the 1993 National Congress in Surabaya. Suharto's New Order rejected her. It led to the break-up of the party into PDI and PDIP. PDI was led by Suharto's pick, Budi Harjono. PDIP is led by Megawati Sukarnoputri. PDI is now defunct, while PDIP enjoys popular support in the 1999 election.[return to text] Proportion of HMI alumni in the House of Representatives: Golkar 31%, PPP 22%, PAN 53%, PBB 85%, and PKS 43%. HMI alumni in PKB is only 6%. Calculated based on the data provided by the Office of the Corps of HMI Alumni (KAHMI, Korps Alumni HMI). [return to text] PDIP's original list of 575 candidates for the House of Representatives was comprised of 244 (42.4%) Muslim candidates. See "Mayoritas Caleg PDI Perjuangan" [Majority of candidates from PDI Perjuangan], Harian Republika [Republika daily newspaper] (Jakarta, Indonesia), June 2, 1999. The religious make-up of PDIP candidates sparked protests from Islamic organizations, claiming that Muslims, 88% of the Indonesian population, were under-represented. In response, PDIP increased its proportion of Muslim candidates, and now 62% of PDIP legislatures are Muslims. [return to text] Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, Wajah Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, Republik Indonesia: Pemilihan Umum 1999 [Face of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia: 1999 general election], (Jakarta: Penerbit Harian Kompas, 2000). [return to text] Private Islamic schools are mostly attended by Muslim students, but private Christian schools also have large portions of Muslim students. When it comes to religious courses, this law requires Christian schools not to teach Christianity to their Muslims students but to have a Muslim teacher to teach Islam. This bill is called "Undang-Undang Nomor 20 Tahun 2003 tentang Sistem Pendidikan Nasional" [Law No. 20 Year 2003 on National Education System]. [return to text] 18



15. 16. 17.







On June 11, 2003, all legislators from PDIP walked-out to protest the approval of this bill. See "DPR Menyetujui RUU Sisdiknas Jadi UU" [The House of Representatives Approved The Draft of The National Education System Into Law], Harian Kompas [Kompas daily newspaper] (Jakarta, Indonesia), June 12, 2003. [return to text] See R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani, "Politik Aliran Memudar, Kepemimpinan Nasional Menentukan Pilihan Partai Politik" [Stream politics faded, national leadership influenced the choice for a political party], Harian Kompas [Kompas daily newspaper], (Jakarta, Indonesia), September 1, 2000. [return to text] This is affirmed by a Golkar legislator that Golkar acted with electoral interests in mind. See Hari Kurniawan, "House Passes Education Bill," The Jakarta Post (Jakarta, Indonesia), June 12, 2003. [return to text] The Compilation consists of three books: (1) Marriage Law, (2) Inheritance, and (3) Wakaf [charitable trust]. It is a guide for Judges in the Religious Court in solving the cases submitted to them.[return to text] M.B. Hooker, Indonesian Islam: Social Change Through Contemporary Fatawa [religious edicts issued by persons with recognized authority/Islamic scholars], (University of Hawai'i Press, 2003), p.20. [return to text] In the same election PDIP derived support from localities which in 1955 supported secularist parties (nationalist, communists, and socialist parties). For further discussion about similarities and continuities between 1955 and 1999 elections, see Dwight Y. King, Half-Hearted Reform: Electoral Institutions and The Struggle For Democracy In Indonesia, (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2003), pp. 129-131. [return to text] Although PKB was officially founded only in 1998, many PKB functionaries are former party activists of NU, which participated in the 1955 and 1971 elections as well as in the 1977 and 1982 elections as part of PPP. Although NU officially retreated from partisan politics in 1984, many of its activists remained active in PPP until PKB was founded. PKB was simply a new name for NU partisan politics.[return to text] PPIM, 2002, Kinerja Pemerintah, Partai Politik and Presiden Pilihan Rakyat 2004 [Government Performance, Political Party, and People's Preference For President In 2004], summary of the finding presented by Saiful Mujani, research team leader, November 2002. [return to text] In the provinces of Central Java, East Java, Yogyakarta, East Kalimantan, and West Nusa Tenggara. [return to text] James Manor, The Political Economy of Democratic Decentralization, (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1999). [return to text] PPIM survey results can be found in R. William Liddle, "New Patterns of Islamic Politics in Democratic Indonesia," in Piety and Pragmatism: Trends in Indonesian Islamic Politics. (Washington: Woodrow Wilson International Center, Asia Special Report No. 10, 2003), Table 2, p. 9. [return to text] See Hefner, Civil Islam, pp. 94-95. [return to text] Alan Ware, Political Parties and Party Systems, (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). [return to text] 19











34. 35.


There is no accurate data on the size of Muhammadiyah and NU membership but the conventional wisdom holds that Muhammadiyah and NU members are no less than 25 and 35 million, respectively. [return to text] PBB is closely associated with DDII. DDII is simply a modernist Islamic organization supported by former Masyumi activists and sympathizers. It has closer relationships with modernist Islamic organizations, such Muhammadiyah and the Unity of Islam (Persis, Persatuan Islam), than with NU. [return to text] Golkar actively opposes any increase in energy price (gasoline, electricity) and telephone fees. [return to text] See interview with Anis Matta, the Secretary General of the Justice Party, in Tim Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kompas, Partai-Partai Politik Indonesia: Ideologi, Strategi, dan Program [Indonesian Political Parties: Ideology, Strategy, and Program], (Jakarta: Kompas Media Nusantara, 1999). [return to text]