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Islamism in Indonesia

Politics in the Emerging Democracy

Bernhard Platzdasch

Publication Year: 2009

The fall of President Soeharto in May 1998 and the introduction of multi-party democracy by President BJ Habibie have unleashed religious parties (both Islamic and Christian) in Indonesian politics. This study shows that the Islamist agenda of the Islamist parties is overshadowed by their political pragmatism. This book is a must-read account on the rise and failure of the Islamist struggle in Indonesia's emerging democracy. Platzdasch's work is without a doubt a significant and timely contribution to a better understanding of Islamic politics in contemporary Indonesia. - Professor Azyumardi Azra, Professor of History & Director, Graduate School, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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List of Tables

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiv

What is the nature of political Islam? Twenty or more years ago, there was considerable agreement among scholars on how to answer this question. Political Islam comprised parties and movements that sought the formal application of Islamic law in politics and society. The cornerstones of Islamic...

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pp. xv-xvii

This book is a revised and updated version of my PhD thesis from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. It is an analysis of Islamist political behaviour during the early democratic years in Indonesia, concentrating on the period between 1998 and 2003, yet with large attention...

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pp. xix

I particularly wish to express my gratitude to Dr Greg Fealy and his charming family. Greg was the supervisor of the original thesis this book is based on and the most important intellectual influence during my research. He has been a dear friend and colleague to me ever since. I also...


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pp. xxi-xxxvii

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pp. 1-29

Indonesian politics was redefined after 1998. On 21 May 1998, President Soeharto resigned. It was the end of the New Order (1966–98) and the beginning of what became popularly known as the reformasi (“reform”) era. Reformasi brought an end to authoritarianism and introduced...

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1. The Waning of the Masyumi Tradition

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pp. 30-99

This chapter examines the re-formation process of Islamist politics in the years 1998 and 1999. I argue that an associative spirit of what I term the “Masyumi tradition” was sustained during the New Order. In the early phase of democracy, however, this spirit did not...

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2. The “Muslim Nation” Dogma

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pp. 100-173

It is a key feature of Islamists adhering to the Masyumi tradition to claim greater socio-cultural authenticity than other religions and beliefs. This claim is framed by the truism that Indonesian cultural identity is grounded in a shared religious awareness. Masyumi legatees have...

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3. Shari’ah Concerns, Motives, and Qualities

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pp. 174-215

In the previous chapter, I described shari’ah as a focal point for promoting the restoration of Muslim identity within the national idea in a debate often strongly tinged by emotions of loss and segregation. In this chapter, I will argue that shari’ah politics in early democratic Indonesia...

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4. Vote Maximization: Islamist Electoral Strategies

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pp. 216-263

In this chapter, I deal with a number of dilemmas for Islamism in pluralist politics and their impact on electoral strategy. I discuss in particular the hesitation of Islamist parties to promote shari’ah issues until after the June 1999 elections. I argue that these parties were...

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5. The Triumph of Political Logic

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pp. 264-320

In 1998, demokrasi had brought about the long-awaited opportunity for Islamist parties to regain political power. The most fundamental challenge Islamists faced in the following months and years was to find a balance between promoting religious ideology and making the...

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pp. 321-330

In this study into the nature of Indonesian Islamism, I argued in favour of a nuanced examination of the beliefs and behaviour of Islamist parties in the early democratic period after the end of the New Order. Many scholars of Indonesian Islam have characterized Islamist...

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Postscript: “Muslim Nation” Dogma and Pancasila Holdovers

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pp. 331-343

In the years after 2003–04, Indonesian political parties beefed up their Islamic credentials, whilst simultaneously aiming to hold on to the pluralist message of Pancasila. For the overall shift towards a greater Islamic profile, it was not necessary for Islamists to increase their share of...

Appendix 1: Results of the June 1999 Parliamentary Elections

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pp. 345

Appendix 2: Results of the 2004 Parliamentary Elections

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pp. 346

Appendix 3: Selected PPP Leaders

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pp. 347-348

Appendix 4: Selected PK/PKS Leaders

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pp. 349-351

Appendix 5: Selected PBB Leaders

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pp. 352-354

Appendix 6: Selected Keluarga Bulan Bintang Notables

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pp. 355-357

Appendix 7: Ministers of Islamist Parties and the Reform Faction

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pp. 358-359


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pp. 361-396


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pp. 397-411

About the Author

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pp. 412

E-ISBN-13: 9789814279109
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814279093

Page Count: 412
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Islam and state -- Indonesia.
  • Islam and politics -- Indonesia.
  • Democracy -- Religious aspects -- Islam.
  • Democracy -- Indonesia.
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