Identity Politics in Transition: Political Islam and Democracy in South Kalimantan

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This paper discusses the shift in electoral politics of political Islam in the context of democratic consolidation in Indonesia after Reformasi, particularly in South Kalimantan where 94% of the voters are Muslims and considerably religious. It examines the thesis of fading sectarian politics (politik aliran, sectarian identity-based politics) in Indonesia (Liddle and Mujani, 2004; Hamayotsu, 2012) in the midst of growing oligarchy (Hadiz and Robison, 2005; and Winters, 2011) which led to rationalism and pragmatism in electoral politics, in contrast to sectarian politics. Qualitative methodology was employed by using in-depth interviews with local elite Muslim politicians in South Kalimantan. Perceptions and motives on power, political transactional cost, coalition formation, and sharia law were elaborated and analyzed. This research argues that the political Islam adapted to the changing landscape of the electoral politics, both in elite and mass level. In disagreement with other research which concluded that the political Islam plays important role in a 'religious-democracy' in Indonesia (Tanuwidjaja, 2010), this paper argues that they adjusted their vision and strategy to make the most in the electoral politics in the changing context. Islamic norms and culture, are interpreted in harmony with nationalism and democracy, not particularly distinctive and exclusive. Islamic symbols and networks are considered advantages during election campaign and mobilization, although the Muslim politicians are pragmatic when it comes to electability, popularity, and political transaction in coalition formation and policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 2nd International Multidisciplinary Conference - ID, Jakarta, Indonesia
Duration: 1 Jan 2017 → …


ConferenceThe 2nd International Multidisciplinary Conference
Period1/01/17 → …


  • democracy
  • symbolic capital
  • political Islam
  • electoral politics


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