Source: The New York Times
JAKARTA, Indonesia — When Joko Widodo, the incumbent presidentof Indonesia, last year chose Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate for the general election this April, it became clear that Indonesian politics is now backed into a corner. Mr. Ma’ruf is an Islamic cleric and scholar, and Mr. Joko was perhaps hoping to dampen attacks from conservative and radical Islamic groups that have called him anti-Islam (even though he is Muslim himself). Instead, he has built a Trojan horse for his opponents outside the walls of his own city.
The presidential race, in which Mr. Joko is again facing Prabowo Subianto, a ex-army general and former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, looks like a replay of the 2014 contest. Back then, Mr. Joko won by a small margin, on a platform promising a grand maritime strategy for Indonesia and to revitalize the economy partly through major infrastructure projects. This year, it seems, the decisive issue will be the candidates’ professed commitment to Islam.
Mr. Joko and Mr. Prabowo are scheduled to meet for their second debate on Feb. 17, and the agenda will focus on natural resources, infrastructure and the environment. But soon enough, the main issue of this election — religion — will return to the fore.