YOGYAKARTA – UGM Political Communication Specialist, Kuskrido Ambardi, Ph.D., said that religion does not determine political choice of voters. This is reflected in the various surveys done by the Indonesian Survey Institute in the past ten years. “Although the religious lifestyle of communities has become stronger, people experiencing santrinization process while some segments of the Muslims becoming more conservative. Nevertheless, the process cannot be translated easily in the political world. Religion does not really affect the political behavior of voters as much as people had imagined. There is a separation between social and political behaviors," Dodi (the nickname of Kuskrido Ambardi) said in the seminar Indonesian Santri-Abangan, in PAU UGM building, Thursday (13/12).
The fact is, Dodi said, now society is experiencing santrinization with the rise of religious programs on several television stations. It is even shown by the increasing number of teaching activities (Qur’an recitation) and Muslim women wearing the hijab. However, that fact does not necessarily increase the number of votes for Islamic parties as it did in the 2009 election. "Santrinization increases, but votes for Islamic parties decreases. Logically, santris will select santri leaders while abangan (not based on faith) groups will vote candidates who are close to abangan, too," he added.
Results of the LSI’s survey conducted after presidential and legislative elections indicated that religious, ethnic and regional sentiments did not become criteria for voters to cast vote but to evaluate the results of the government’s performance. "Voters’ political behavior is more rational. If the government’s performance is good, they will be supported. If they do not, they will get fewer votes," he said.
Dodi examplified, SBY-Boediono victory of the survey erased the subjective perception of all political elites that presidential and vice presidential candidates should represent santri-abangan, Java and outside Java. "In reality, that is not so important," he said.
Surveys showed the tendency of voters to elect nationalist parties than Islamic parties. Voters still consider Islamic parties do not have a concrete political program as they had hoped. "Most Islamic parties work on the identity and symbols. All of these does not come into the minds of voters," he said.
Dr. Sugeng Bayu Wahyono from Faculty of Education, Yogyakarta State University, explained the dichotomy of Javanese society into three classes: priyayi, santri, and abangan (the noblemen, Muslim students and those that are not based on certain faith) as proposed by a U.S. sociologist and anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, who examined the life of Javanese. "In his book, he did not theorize but provide reporting. He described the Javanese community with all its dynamics," he said.
Although the Javanese class dichotomy is debatable, Sugeng appreciated Geerzt as a foreign researcher who had spent years doing field research in Indonesia. In fact, Geertz did not speak the Javanese language and even had to learn in the Netherlands before coming to UGM. "It was incredible. He even knew the name of dozens of ghosts known by the Javanese," he said.