Ethnic and Religious Sentiments in Indonesian Politics: Evidence from the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election

  • VOL. 21 NO. 1
  • pp. pp.141-164

Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo

  • Keywords

    Islam and politics, voting behavior, Indonesia, minority politics

  • Abstract

    Studies have documented how ethnic and religious sentiments shape the voting behavior of Indonesian Muslims. However, to date no studies have carefully measured the relative influence of these sentiments. I fill this gap in the literature by taking advantage of the candidacy of a Christian, ethnic Chinese candidate in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election in Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok). Employing an original survey of Jakartan Muslims, I show through experimental and correlational analyses that Muslim voters are more opposed to Ahok than non-Muslim voters are and that this opposition is driven more by Ahok`s ethnicity, as opposed to his religion. I also show that Muslim voters’ feelings toward ethnic Chinese shape their support for Ahok more than their feelings toward Christians. I discuss how these findings inform our understanding of the limits and extent of religious influence on Muslim voting behavior.

  • Author(s) Bio

    Nathanael Sumaktoyo ( is a postdoctoral fellow with the Politics of Inequality Project at the University of Konstanz, Germany and an incoming Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (starting August 2021). His research interests are on the topics of political behavior, minority politics, intergroup relations, and causal inference. He maintains a personal website