Religous models for political conduct in Indonesia traditionally showed a profound tolerance for contradicting ethical values and rarely prescribed adherence to any singular and absolute morality. Yet as the recent Jakarta gubernatorial elections demonstrated, while religion persists as an important element in Indonesian political culture, its role is changing.
In the 2017 gubernatorial elections the challenger Anies Baswedan defeated the incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) by a clear margin of 58 to 42 per cent. In analysing the semantics of Baswedan’s anti-Ahok rhetoric, Mark Woodward has shown how traditional Javanese political virtues such as halus (refinement) and sopan (politeness) are disappearing from the political vocabulary in the face of the growing impact of Islamic religious arguments and labels. In this seminar, Leons Taivans traces this shift in political rhetoric and conduct, and asks whether the radicalization of Indonesian Islam will endanger the process of democratization as the 2019 presidential elections draw nearer.
Leons Taivans is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Latvia