Research Project (2)

Localized Institutional Impacts on Islamist Political Mobilisation in Indonesia: Evidence from Three Regions (intended submission January 2021)

What explains the regionally varying political mobilization of Islamist parties in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim democracy? Using a three-stage approach inspired by the Lieberman’s (2005; 2015) nested analysis, this article is aimed at a better understanding of how adaptability to local political contexts matters in determining the electoral performance of the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). The preliminary aggregate analysis of support for PKS at the district level shows that existing studies highlighting Islamic piety and socioeconomic conditions cannot fully account for voting patterns across the country, especially in the outer islands. Based on a subsequent comparative analysis of two “off-the-line” regions (i.e., Gorontalo City and Ngada District) and one “on-the-line” region (i.e., Mojokerto District), I find that the PKS’s electoral mobilization in non-Javanese regions depends more on whether the party exploits a strong tendency toward personal votes supported by clientelistic networks. In contrast, in Mojokerto, a typical rural Javanese region, PKS’s support base is virtually embedded in specific milieus structured by deep-seated sociocultural cleavages. The findings of the comparative analysis are supported by the evidence produced through additional statistical testing. This article resonates with the broader literature on politics in the Muslim world, indicating strategic considerations of local political conditions as an important factor in electoral support for Islamist parties.