CAIRO - Islamic parties in Indonesia are losing public popularity over failure to consider religious concerns of supporters, who are turning instead to social Muslim groups to fulfil their aspirations, a new survey has found.
Islamic parties need to consolidate to regain their existence in politics, Umar S. Bakry, executive director of the National Survey Institute said, The Jakarta Post reported Wednesday, July 27.
Otherwise the remaining parties will collapse like the others.
An LSN survey found that public support for Islamic parties in Indonesia has sharply dropped.
Nearly 15.7% of respondents said they support Islamic parties, down from 29.1% in 2009 and 38.3% in 2004.
The Islamic-learning Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) got the highest support among Islamic parties, with only 5.1% of respondents.
PKS, along with other Islamic parties as the United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) were big players in the 2009 polls.
And it is not impossible that it will even drop deeper in the 2014 elections, Umar said.
The survey found that a growing popularity for nationalist parties such as Golkar, which won 20.1% of respondents' support, the PDI-P by 14% and the Democratic Party by 10.5%.
The poll, which included 1,230 respondents, also found dwindling support for politicians from Islamic parties.
For instance, PKS leader Hidayat Nur Wahid got only 4.6% support of respondents.
Other Muslim politicians fared even worse, with PAN chairman Hatta Rajasa getting only 3.9%, Crescent Star Party (PBB) founder Yusril Ihza Mahendra got 3.2% and PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar got 2%.
However, politicians from secular parties won bigger support among Indonesians, with PDI-P chairwoman and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri got 18%, followed by the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party founder Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto at 17.4% and Golkar chairman Aburizal Ical Bakrie with 17.1%.
The survey found that Indonesians are abandoning Islamic parties to social Muslim groups to fulfil their aspirations.
People have moved to religious groups to deliver their aspirations, LSN executive director Umar, the NSL director, said.
He said many supporters of Islamic parties now turn to groups as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, the country's biggest two Muslim organizations, to fulfil their aspirations.
The poll attributed the popularity decline of Islamic parties to failure to include Islam in their politics and accommodate religious aspirations of supporters.
The people then choose religious groups to deliver their aspirations, instead of political parties, Umar said.
He also cited internal problems inside Islamic parties in Indonesia for the dwindling public support.
The Internal problem is an identity crisis among Islamic political parties and politicians, he said, adding that external factors include the strengthening secularism in Indonesian politics.
He also argued that Muslim voters were becoming more tolerant and moderate and no longer embraced sectarian politics.
The majority of Islamic people in Indonesia tend to be more tolerant, moderate, inclusive and non-sectarian, Umar said.
Unless they [Islamic parties] figure out what they want to do and make efforts to accommodate the aspirations and interests of the majority of their respondents, they will sink in the political sphere.Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state where Muslims make up 80% percent of the 220 million population.