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Indonesian Election: Muslim Parties Seen Losing Votes

2 min read
Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia

Thousands of Indonesian muslims congregated during Eid ul Fitr mass prayer at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata.

Established Islamic parties are likely to lose votes to their nationalist counterparts in next week’s elections in Indonesia, analysts said, despite perceptions of growing religious conservatism.

Several recent polls suggest that nationalist parties will dominate the 575-strong House of Representatives (DPR), with the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) expected to win the most votes in the April 17 election.

Indonesia’s main faith-based party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), is not expected to repeat its 2014 performance, when it won 6.8 percent of the votes, while the more moderate United Development Party (PPP) and National Mandate Party (PAN) may not secure enough votes to pass the 4 percent threshold required to hold a seat in parliament, recent polls suggest.

PPP and PAN won 6.5 and 7.6 percent of the votes in the 2014 parliamentary elections, respectively.

The National Awakening Party (PKB), a member of the ruling coalition that backs President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s bid for reelection, is the only Islamic party expected to secure its parliamentary seats.

“Despite the recent symptoms of identity politics, nationalist parties are expected to dominate,” said Ari Nurcahyo, director of PARA Syndicate, a private think tank.

“Islamic parties are struggling with a lack of popular figures and innovative ideas,” he said.

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