The candidacy of Jusuf Kalla, the former vice president and leader of Golkar Party, recently as one of presidential candidates of other party, the PKB (the National Awakening Party), potentially threatens the power of his own party (Detiknews, December 22, 2013). Various statements related to the issue of 'piracy' or violation of 'ethics' in politics is highlighted in mass media (Koran Sindo, January 30, 2014). On the other hand, the PKB shows its inconsistencies by proposing Rhoma Irama and Mahfud MD as the presidential candidates of the party. In latest issue, Muhaimin, the president of PKB, makes an interesting decision to acrobatically place Rusdi Kirana, the owner of Lion Airways, as the vice president of the party.
Above issues are portrait of acute leadership problems and also reflect political immaturity of PKB party in facing the 2014 general elections. Unfortunately, this problem is also faced by other Indonesian Islamic parties such as PPP, PAN, PBB and PKS and seems as their most crucial, problematic and unfinished problems. In order to solve it, Islamic parties tend to rely on coalitions with other larger parties to propose a presidential candidate simply to secure their positions in the government. They have lost a strong commitment and a proud-brave political will to propose their own presidential candidates.
These pragmatic coalitions lead to a deeper political distrust among their traditional supporters. The Islamic parties have increasingly oscillated and subordinated in heavy political interests of major parties. It illustrates the Islamic parties have no strong bargaining positions in national leadership that eventually will accumulate the frustration and political distrust of the people and consider Islamic parties as barren and inconsistent parties. Based on this statement, the Islamic parties have to approve that charismatic leader is an important affinity to protect and gain larger votes.
The Tradition of Strong Leadership
In the Indonesian political history, the Islamic leadership became a major factor of the formation of nationalism spirits. The first generation of the leaders emerged among HOS Cokroaminoto, H. Agus Salim, KH. Ahmad Hassan, KH. Ahmad Dahlan, and KH. Hasyim Asy’ari. These leaders were instrumental in laying the foundations of the nationalist-Islamic movements during Indonesian struggle against the Dutch colonialism. The most prominent Islamic movement which tended to blend itself into politics was Sarekat Islam (SI).
Under the leadership of Cokroaminoto, SI experienced an extensive and dominant movement in homeland. The Governor General Idenburg once likened the growth of SI as a fire which quickly burned the shrubs; or as well as Lenin 's comments in the Pravda newspaper on May 7, 1913, which said the growth of SI as a most spectacular growth over the revolutionary movements in the Dutch East Indies (Suhelmi 1963).
SI’s regeneration was benefited from a proper leadership shift after Cokroaminoto. The arrival of H. Agus Salim, who brought the ideas of Islamic reformism of Abduh, Al-Afghani, Rashid Ridha and his connections to Ahmad Surkutti (Jamaat Khair and al-Irsyad), was widened the SI’s connectivity with the latest Islamic developments in terms of ideas and movements in the Muslim world. It leads to the encouragement the modernist formations of a progressive Islamic movement in homeland (Noer 1973).
According to Mohammad Roem (1984: 178), Agus Salim through his students, especially Natsir, has given a foothold to the Islamic ideas and movement that smart, sturdy, modern and critical. The transformation these ideas was transmitted in a very simple way of communications. Although these ‘light’ conversations with Salim were always moving from one folksy house rent to another in narrow and muddy alleys, these seeded a great energy to Natsir to create his Masjumi party.
According to Remy Madinier (2013) in his book entitled ‘Masjumi Party’, Natsir has gone through the most historic times in his life as the leader of the largest Islamic party along Indonesian history. His party agglomerated the Indonesian Muslim political articulations beyond the boundaries of religious sectarianism. It leads to thinking that if the first post independence Indonesian elections conducted before 1950 (instead of 1955), Masjumi may celebrate its outstanding party’s performances as the absolute winner in Indonesian democratic constellations. But it is a dream; Natsir has to withdraw his political movements in Indonesian history.
Suppressive Politics and Religious Sectarianism
The dramatic political succession in 1965 created many deadlocks and political uncertainty. The parties had to face many political restrictions by the New Order regime. Politically, beheading political leadership regeneration of post-Natsir’s Masjumi can be grouped into two reasons: first, suppression of Masjumi in 1965. Radical policies of the New Order regime makes Muslims lose new affinities for collecting political power. The existence of a vacuum period from 1965 into 1973's elections should presumably be part of the effort to raise the Suharto's political roots from the Golkar. Dual function roles of ABRI become an effective tool for the General to transform the formation of Sekber Golkar (Joint Secretariat Golkar), which originally as a means to overcome the influence of the PKI, into the New Order's Trojan horse (Effendi 2003).
Second, the Suharto regime's suppressive policy does not provide a space for the rise of the Muslim’s leadership. Logically, the Suharto’s political suppression monopoly power, ideology, and political networks, thus the birth of the prominent leaders of the Muslim community is an enemy to him. Various issues related to Islamic radicalism regarded as Komando Jihad, hijacking of Garuda Airways, Tanjung Priok’s bloody massacre, usrah and others, are an excuse for repressive political regimes to create the burdensome years for the regeneration of the Islamic leadership (van Bruinessen 2002).
'Atomized' political party in the 1999 elections that flavorful with ideological sectarianism, as analyzed by Marcus Mietzner (2008) in the post-reform era, actually provided an opportunity for the rise of Islamic leadership but religious (and also ideological) sectarianism in politics has buried their expectations and hopes. Evidently, the DDII, the apolitical institutional successor of Masjumi, did not have the skills to garner political nostalgia like what happened in the past. On the other hand, political maturity to 'succumb' in the middle of political constrains among Muslim politicians as what NU, Muhammadiyah, Perti and Persis did under the flag of Masjumi seems far from expectations. It is completely dilute the dreams of Muslim’s Political leadership in Indonesia.
Islamic parties should reflect and learn from history. Sectarianism in post political reformation of Indonesia has resulted in political fragmentation and lack of unity to define the right leader. Leadership vacuum is an impact of the inability among Muslim politicians to agglomerate Muslim political power. It already happens in three elections after reformation of the country and seemingly continuous in this April 2014’s elections. If yes, the Muslim political leadership is far from reality. (Nostalgiawan Wahyudhi M.A.)