Think Tank (May to June 2019)
Panel discussion on the 2019 Indonesia General Elections
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The 2019 Indonesian General Elections: Impact and Implications
23 May 2019
Made Ayu Mariska

On 23 May 2019, the Indonesia Programme at RSIS held a panel discussion on the impact and implications of the recent Indonesian presidential and parliamentary elections. The panelists were Dr Alexander R. Arifianto (Research Fellow), Dr Syafiq Hasyim (Visiting Fellow), Andar Nubowo (Associate Research Fellow), Jonathan Chen (Associate Research Fellow) and Dedi Dinarto (Research Associate). The panelists highlighted the role of identity politics and the political dynamics outside Java.

The seminar started with a summary from Dr Arifianto on the results of both the presidential and parliamentary elections and their aftermath. The seminar continued with Dr Hasyim and Mr Nubowo underlining the strong role of identity politics during the campaign. In particular, the Islamic card had been played for over six months during the long campaign period, resulting in a deep polarisation within Indonesian society, especially among Muslims themselves. Mr Nubowo noted that the growing tide of Islamic piety (or conservatism to some), signified by the emergence of a remarkable 212 Islamic movements, was not a one-off phenomenon. Instead, he said, it had considerably shaped the Indonesian Muslim narrative and the political behavior of Muslims during the recent presidential election, and in the future it may have a significant role in shaping Indonesia’s public policy.

According to Mr Chen, case studies outside of Java showed different political dynamics at work in different regions. For instance, in West Kalimantan politics was characterised by four elements: the coat-tail effect, the vast aliran (streams) within Islam, ethnicity and religious divisions (the Muslim vs non-Muslim divide), and ideological competition. In South Sulawesi, on the other hand, politics was strongly determined by just ethnic or religious divides. Mr Dinarto noted that identity politics are looming and inextricably related to the particular historical, cultural, ethnic, and social contexts of each province.

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