Islamic parties fading in Indonesia voting

April 25, 2009 at 2:45 PM

JAKARTA, April 25 (UPI) -- The results of Indonesia's parliamentary elections are showing a setback for the country's strict Islamic parties.

The New York Times said Saturday that the largest Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party, fell well short of the 15-percent of the vote it was aiming for and was barely ahead of the 7.2 percent it picked up in 2004.

Results of the April 9 voting will be announced next month.

Political analysts in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, say that despite a growth in the religiosity of voters, there still seems to be a strong sentiment for separation of church and state when it comes to politics.

"People in general do not feel that there should be an integration of faith and politics," said Azyumardi Azra of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University. "Even though more and more Muslims, in particular women, have become more Islamic and have a growing attachment to Islam, that does not translate into voting behavior."

Analysts also concluded that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono undercut Prosperous Justice by instituting the anti-corruption policies that the Islamists had been promising.

The Times said Prosperous Justice's main goal has been to institute Islamic Shariah law to Indonesia, but many voters appear to have second thoughts about the strict cultural rules and the vague "anti-pornography" laws that are used to ban a wide range of arts and activities.

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