Doctoral Research

Islamist Political Mobilization in Contemporary Indonesia: The Case of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS)

This thesis explores whether and how Indonesia’s largest Islamist party, the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, PKS), has politically mobilized the country’s population amid the uncertainty of voter preferences. Based on the assumption that the level of the uncertainty has increased due to the two phenomena in contemporary Indonesia, i.e., Islamization by both state and non-state actors and decentralization accompanying personalism, the three subsequent chapters in the thesis present to what extent the PKS has been able to appeal to various segments of the Indonesian electorate over time and across space by using a range of analytical tools. More specifically, the first analysis shows that the PKS’s efforts to voter mobilization through moderation, which refers to an adoption of an inclusive and centrist approach, has had only limited success as the party’s original voter base composed of urban-educated Islamists gradually withdrew their support. The second analysis, which employs a ‘nested analysis’ for doing a cross-regional study, finds that sub-provincially varying strength of traditional social cleavages has significantly affected the level of uncertainty in local politics and the PKS’s electoral performance. Lastly, the findings from an in-depth case study analysis in a predominantly Catholic district provide a new insight into challenges and opportunities for the PKS’s political mobilization under great uncertainty underpinned by personalism.