Indonesia election exposes ethnic, religious divides

By John McBeth | Asia Times

While it may have given President Joko Widodo a significantly larger majority than in the last race in 2014, Indonesia’s April 17 presidential election has put the archipelago’s religious and ethnic divides into much sharper and worrying relief.

It also partly explains why opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto, the 67-year-old scion of a blue-blood family groomed to be president from childhood, has reacted so badly to losing a second election he seemed convinced he had in the bag.

More than anything, the vote shows a greater polarization between the Javanese heartland and eastern Indonesia’s minority enclaves on one side, and religiously conservative West Java and the Muslim-dominated islands of Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan on the other.