Islamic hard-liners may be potential voters
Paper Edition | Page: 4
As pollsters predict a grim outlook for Islamic parties in the 2014
legislative election, some parties are making an effort to appeal to
fringe Muslim groups in the country.
The United Development Party
(PPP) recently decided to nominate Munarman, controversial spokesman of
the vigilante Islam Defenders Front (FPI), as one of its legislative
In February, PPP chairman Suryadharma Ali, who is
also the religious affairs minister, went so far as to announce that his
party was open to members of the Islamic Dakwah Indonesia Institution
(LDII) and the Al-Zaytun boarding school, two institutions that are seen
by many as radical.
The party’s goal was to translate Islamic principles into an Islamic constitution, PPP secretary-general M. Romahurmuziy said.
“Therefore, for instance, we do not accept non-Muslim legislative candidates,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He admitted that the presence of prominent Muslim figures would enhance the electability of Muslim-based parties.
we shift to the center or to the left, people will perceive us as
inconsistent in upholding our values,” he said. “And, if they [the
fundamentalist groups] have no place to channel their aspirations, they
will become more savage.”
He later criticized pollsters for being “premature in assuming Islamic parties face a bleak future”.
said that although Islamic parties had seen their support fluctuate, an
average of 30 percent of the country’s voters would be ready to vote
for them in an election.
In 1999, Islamic parties collectively
won around 36 percent of the vote. They obtained 38 percent in 2004, and
25 percent during the 2009 election.
Political analyst Arie
Sujito from Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University (UGM), however, said
it would not be easy for Islamic parties to win votes from hard-line
“It’s a political strategy, but these Islamic parties
must realize it won’t be easy to win votes from hard-liners as
corruption has damaged their credibility,” he said.
Ary said that when it came to corruption, both secular and Muslim-based parties were in the same quandary.
said that some parties, like the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), were
aware of the difficulties in shifting completely to become
“They are trying to build an Islamic
image while at the same time launching pragmatic programs. For instance,
the party [PKS] once declared itself an open party at a meeting in Bali
[in 2008],” he said.
Senior PKS politician Hidayat Nur Wahid had
earlier said that the party would now focus on improving the party’s
image following the arrest of former chairman Luthfi.
However, the party has also made overtures to some of the country’s hard-line groups.
PKS is now leaning toward conservative Islamic groups in the ongoing
deliberations of the Mass Organizations Bill, a move interpreted as an
attempt to attract new voters.
The PKS said that the current
draft of the bill needed amending to better protect Muslim organizations
in the country and to lessen the influence of foreign groups and their
Not all Muslim parties are attempting to make themselves more attractive to fringe groups, however.
National Mandate Party (PAN), which is affiliated with the country’s
second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, said it planned to be
more inclusive to get more voters in the 2014 political campaign
season. The National Awakening Party (PKB), which is connected with the
country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, has also said
it aimed to increase the number of its non-Muslim members.
central board member Bima Arya Sugiarto said his party would only focus
on promoting the ideas of its chairman, Coordinating Economic Minister
“He has good ideas that we believe can reach all elements of society; perhaps even the fundamentalists,” he said.
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