Building U.S.-Indonesia Mutual Understanding Since 1994

Will Religious Sentiment Significantly Affect the 2019 Elections?

July 27, 2018 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm America/New_York


1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW


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Cordially invite you to an Open Forum on


Will Religious Sentiment Significantly Affect the 2019 Elections?




 Friday, July 27, 2018

2:30  4:00 PM



USINDO Washington DC

1652 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 550

Washington, D.C. 20036


In April of next year, only nine months away, Indonesia will hold its 2019 Presidential and Legislative election. Many observers are concerned that identity politics, particularly ethno-religious sentiments, will play a key role in determining the dynamics and results of the 2019 election. Though each election has its own circumstances, some predict the 2019 election campaign and results may be affected by the use of religious factors for political purposes, similar to the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election, where the incumbent Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was accused of blasphemy against Islam and defeated in the highly competitive election.
In the most recent 2018 local election, some provinces showed similar dynamics. Many ethno-religious sentiments and symbols were used during the campaign period to win votes. With more at stake in an increasingly polarized political landscape, there is a concern among many that race and religious campaigning is likely to continue or even amplify.
These instances demonstrate that religious and ethnic sensitivities continue to be an important factor in Indonesian politics. But to what extent will ethno-religious factors and their involvement in campaigns affect the 2019 election outcome?
Although no one has officially registered to the General Election Commission as Presidential candidates, the two likely contenders are President Jokowi and Retired General Prabowo Subianto. Will these contenders use ethno-religious sentiment in determining their running mate, coalition and their campaign strategies? If so, how? What are other important factors will likely influence the results of the 2019 Indonesia election? How will the continued usage of political and ethno-religious identity shape Indonesian society and the future landscape of Indonesian politics?
To discuss these questions, USINDO is delighted to host Ms. Yenny Wahid, Executive Director of The Wahid Foundation, and Indonesian Co-Chair of the U.S. Indonesia Council on Religion and Pluralism, to share her insights in this Open Forum.
Please join us for this special opportunity to hear Yenny Wahid’s insights on these issues facing in Indonesia today and in 2019.
To register, please kindly RSVP, or email to or call (202) 232-1400 no later than Friday, July 27 at 10:00 a.m. to attend this Open Forum.
Speakers’ Bio:
Yenny Zanuba Wahid is the Indonesian Co-Chair of the Indonesia-U.S. Council on Religion and Pluralism, as well as the Executive Director of Wahid Foundation, which champions the humanitarian vision of former president Abdurrahman Wahid in advancing the development of tolerant, multicultural, democratic, and non-violent society in Indonesia. She is a social and political activist who works to promote peace and tolerance. Her family’s influence within Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), enables her to work effectively at the grassroots level. Her work experiences include working as an Assistant Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age Melbourne, working as Special Staff for the Sixth President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and working as Secretary-General for the biggest Moslem party in Indonesia, PKB.
Ms. Wahid has received many awards and accolades, such as the Australian Walkley Award for her coverage of the conflict in East Timor, and the Champion of Children Award from UNICEF for her work promoting children’s rights. She was also a class speaker at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
She is a member of a prominent political dynasty in Indonesia. Her great-grandfather, Hasyim Asy’ari, founded NU and her grandfather, Wahid Hasyim, was the first Minister of Religion of the Republic of Indonesia. Her father, Indonesian President Wahid, was the Fourth President of Indonesia.