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Democratic Decline in Indonesia: The Role of Religious Authorities

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The Council of Indonesian Islamic Scholars (MUI) has exerted increased political influence in Indonesian politics since the fall of Suharto. Constituted by representatives from various Muslim civil society organizations, the council was originally intended by Suharto to serve as a political representative for Indonesia's two largest civil society organizations, the Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama. This article argues that in addition to its own non-democratic structures and its fatwas opposing democratic values, the MUI has contributed to Indonesia's democratic stagnation and decline in two ways: by undermining the authority of elected state representatives through its anti-pluralist stance and its epistocratic claims, and by imperiling the fragile but functioning balance of religion and the state through its undermining of long-established religious civil society organizations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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