Muslim moderates and democratic breakdown in Indonesia
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Citation (published version)J Menchik. "Muslim Moderates and Democratic Breakdown in Indonesia." Asian Studies Review, 43:3, p. 415-433, https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2019.1627286
For much of the 2000s, scholars and activists lauded Indonesia’s surprisingly successful transition to democracy. Recent years, however, have made imperfections in Indonesian democracy visible to the point where the death of Indonesian democracy is imaginable if not yet underway. This article outlines the role that Indonesian Islamic civil society may play in the death of Indonesian democracy. Drawing on original survey data and interviews, as well as case studies in which the preferences of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah leaders have become visible, this paper argues that their values are compatible with both democracy and authoritarianism. While NU and Muhammadiyah exemplify the civic associational ties and democratic culture that are necessary for making democracy work, civic pluralism is not their only value. NU and Muhammadiyah have a hierarchy of values that they promote and defend, including many anti-democratic values. They are willing to forgo civic pluralism in order to combat blasphemy against Islam, ensure Muslim control over overwhelmingly Muslim regions, and limit political expression concerning heterodox approaches to Islam or non-Muslim involvement in matters of aqidah (faith). If Indonesian democracy dies, it will likely be a result of a coalition of Islamists and autocrats appealing to these anti-democratic values in order to capture the lower classes and moderate Muslims, including many members of NU and Muhammadiyah.