Islamization and politicians in Indonesia: An analysis of the 1999 and 2004 regional people's representative council elections

Ken Miichi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ruling Golkar party dominated the political scene during the Suharto era, but recently political power has been contested among various parties, including Islamic parties that emerged in the 1999 election. Some analysis of that election is still focused on a dichotomy between secular and Islamic parties, the so-called "aliran" politics of the 1950s. There is also an argument that political elites formed during the Suharto era have persisted even after the "reformasi" in 1998. This article, through an analysis of profiles of members elected to the Regional People's Representative Council (DPRD) in 1999 and 2004, argues that aliran politics has been fading away and that new politicians have been emerging slowly. Although no longer dominant, Golkar has widened its base and absorbed some Islamic votes, while the new Islamic parties attract the relatively higher educated and some business elites. Thus Islamization is not directly related to the emergence of Islamic parties. Old political elites have also maintained their influence within both secular and Islamic parties, and various organizations dating from the Suharto era have been recruiting local elites. The increasing number of swing votes, largely consisting of urban people, is accelerating the shift in political elites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-114
Number of pages17
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes


  • General elections
  • Islam
  • Islamism
  • Islamization
  • Political elite
  • Political party
  • Post-Soeharto Indonesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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