[CFE 2022] Identity Politics: Time Bomb in Indonesia’s Future Politics

By: Artikha Wibawa

Every 5 years, Indonesia as a democratic country holds a democratic party, namely choosing people’s representatives in the government or commonly referred to as elections. Before the election, the candidate for representatives of the people usually conducts a campaign or some kind of promotion so that many people know about the identity of the candidate pair, as well as their vision and mission. The core objective of this campaign is actually to gain sympathy in the form of people’s votes so that candidate pairs can be elected at the time of the democratic party. This campaign movement is also carried out by candidate pairs with various strategies, but unfortunately any strategy is still inseparable from the concept of identity politics which is the use of differences and the use of primordial ties such as religion, ethnicity, and ethnicity. Before discussing more about identity politics, it is necessary to know what exactly identity politics is? Identity politics is politics to prioritize the interests of members of a group because they have the same identity or characteristics, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.

Identity politics without boundaries is an “abuse of Indonesian democracy” and is prone to raise to various security problems that can even threaten Indonesia’s national integrity (Al-Farisi, 2020). The understanding of liberal democracy that glorifies Pancasila above all else makes religion a substance whose existence is considered a threat to the diversity that exists in Indonesia, especially against religious minorities. This in the end led to political conflict. In the case of the 2019 general election, the most visible concept of identity politics was in the use of religious identity, particularly Islam as the majority religion in Indonesia. Islam, is the first and foremost identity that is most vulnerable to being misused in the practice of Identity Politics in this beloved republic. But on the other hand, behind the emergence of socio-religious conflicts due to identity politics that threaten the integration of the nation, there are other things as a result of the use of identity politics, especially on religious identity.

As in the tragedy on September 11th 2001 attacks on the twin buildings of the World Trade Centre in New York, United States which resulted in the emergence of many paradigms shifts in the international community regarding Islam, resulting in a negative perception of the world towards Islam. The incident also contributed to the international community’s perception of Islamophobia. Negative feelings, hatred and even fear of Islam occur massively. That incident also certainly had an impact on Indonesia. However, Indonesia is believed to have a golden opportunity to show its Islamic identity as a diplomatic effort. Dewi Fortuna Anwar (2011), a senior researcher at LIPI in an article entitled Foreign Policy, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia, said that Indonesia must make the moment to promote Islamic values that are friendly to the world. The President of the Republic of Indonesia at that time, actually came to Washington to fulfil the invitation of President George W. Bush a few days after the incident. As a diplomatic effort, it is clearly a bold step taken by the leader of the country with the largest Muslim population. This step of Indonesian diplomacy is also considered successful in showing a positive image of Indonesian Islam to the world so as to strengthen its image as a peace maker and also a peace builder which is evident from its participation in efforts to solve various problems in the international arena.

The symbolism of religion which is often used in state politics and national politics is our common homework whose answers have not been completely formulated. The use of religious identity politics has become a habit that is always present in every political movement in Indonesia. Even as a result of the frequent domination of religion, there is often friction between the nation’s ideology and religious concepts. The conflict between nationalist identity and religious identity is currently getting sharper to the point of disturbing the stability of the country. As in a study conducted by Fitri Ramadhani Harahap (2014) with the title Politik Identitas Berbasis Agama, it was suggested that the plurality of identities in Indonesia is threatened by the existence of identity politics which leads to the destruction of the integrity of religious life that has been maintained for a long time. The identity politics that dominates Indonesia today is religious identity politics which presents the exclusivism of the Muslim majority group in Indonesia.

Identity politics that is too strong to highlight differences will be able to destroy the unity and security of the nation, this can be proven by the difficulty of fulfilling the 1945 Constitution article 29 paragraph 2 regarding tolerance. Because a very prominent identity politics will lead to intolerance, which consequently will threaten unity and integrity because they do not respect each other’s human rights. The motto of Indonesia is Bhineka Tunggal Ika, united we stand, divided we fall. This is supported by the opinion of Mahfud MD who said that identity politics in Indonesia is a problem that threatens the nation, because identity politics gives rise to symptoms of hostility that attack each other by questioning religion. In fact, according to J Kristiadi, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIC), Identity politics is very dangerous in Indonesia because the Indonesian people are not yet mature in understanding this identity as a nation so that it can threaten national unity. Identity politics in Indonesia, which is free and there is no regulation that can minimize the impact of identity politics, can also damage the unity and integrity of the nation. Obviously, it will be a ticking time bomb for the Indonesian people.

Profil penulis

Artikha Wibawa pelajar tahun terakhir di SMAN 3 Batam, kelahiran Bandar Negeri, 19 Agustus 2005. Sebagai pelajar, Artikha aktif mengikuti berbagai perlombaan khususnya di bidang menulis. Awal tahun 2021 yang lalu, berhasil menjadi finalis tingkat nasional Kompetisi Ekonomi Universitas Indonesia pada cabang lomba Research Paper. Juga sempat meraih juara pertama lomba esai tingkat provinsi dalam English Festival yang diselenggarakan oleh Universitas Maritim Raja Ali Haji. Dari setiap kegiatan dan perlombaan yang dijalani tak jarang mengalami kegagalan, namun itu yang menjadikan variatif. Sehingga kegagalan tak menjadi hambatan dan kehidupannya menjadi dinamis serta penuh tantangan.


Al-Farisi, L. S. (2020). Politik Identitas: Ancaman Terhadap Persatuan dan Kesatuan Bangsa dalam Negara Pancasila. ASPIRASI, 77–79.

Harahap, F. R. (2014). Politik Identitas Berbasis Agama. Transformasi Demokrasi Indonesia Menuju Perubahan yang Bermakna, 520.

Lutfi, M. (2020). Islam Sebagai Identitas Politik Luar Negeri Indonesia.

Ma’arif, A. S. (2010). Politik Identitas dan Masa Depan Pluralisme Indonesia. Jakarta Selatan: Pusat Studi Agama dan Demokrasi (PUSAD).

Puskapol.ui. (2019). Mengelola Politik Identitas Dalam Pemilu 2019. Fact Sheet, 1.

Suparlan, P. (2004). Hubungan Antar Suku Bangsa. Jakarta: KIK Press.


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