JAKARTA (Reuters) – Two months before this week’s presidential election in Indonesia, prize-winning novelist Eka Kurniawan declared in an opinion column that “the Islamists have already won”.
Unofficial results from Wednesday’s poll show that incumbent President Joko Widodo was actually the winner and is set for a second five-year term – but they also reveal a hardening bloc of conservative Muslims who voted for his challenger.
Widodo - Commitment - Pluralism - World - Country
Widodo’s commitment to pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country may have narrowly won him the race. But the Indonesia he must govern is now more polarized by religion, and he may struggle to meet the demands of Muslim groups that backed him and fend off more hardline Islamists who did not.
“In the short term, Widodo will have to accommodate the opinions and interests of the Muslim-majority because, if the majority feels insecure, it is difficult to protect minorities,” said Achmad Sukarsono, a political analyst with Control Risks.
Indonesia - Saudi - Arabia - Country - Hand
“This is just being pro-people. It doesn’t mean Indonesia will turn into Saudi Arabia or that the country will go straight to amputating a hand for theft.”
While nearly 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslim, the country is officially secular and is home to sizeable Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and other minorities.
Indonesia - Tradition - Tolerance - Risk - Interpretations
Some fear Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance is now at risk, however, as conservative interpretations of Islam become more popular. Among myriad measures of this, demand for sharia finance is growing and more women are covering their heads or donning full veils in public.
Widodo’s rival, former military general Prabowo Subianto, buttressed his challenge by forging an alliance with hardline Islamist groups and religious parties to tap into this trend.
Results - Prabowo - Support - Strongholds - Aceh
Unofficial results show that not only did Prabowo maintain support in conservative strongholds like Aceh, West Java and West Sumatra – he won four more provinces that had gone to the incumbent...
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