is Anies Baswedan, the ex-Jokowi aide allied with Muslim conservatives?


Former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan looks set to forge ahead with his plan to run in Indonesia’s 2024 presidential election after pocketing an Islamist party’s support, an alliance that could invigorate his once-polarising image as the face of conservative Muslim groups.
Anies, a US-educated politician with a doctorate in political science, is viewed as the antithesis of the moderate President Joko Widodo. He has been consistently mentioned as one of the top three candidates in recent opinion polls, alongside the far more popular Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, and Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto.
The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) will announce its support for Anies on February 24, joining the Coalition for Change’s National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and the Democratic Party, which declared their backing in October and January, respectively.
“Anies has the electability that allows him to win. He also has characteristics, that is, on the one hand very religious, but also a nationalist figure,” PKS vice-chairman Sohibul Iman told reporters on Monday.

Having met the presidential threshold, Anies, 53, expressed his gratitude for the three-party coalition, saying on Twitter that he would “carry out this mandate as well as possible”.
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An Islamist or nationalist?
Few voters would be surprised that Anies allies himself with an Islamist party, as he has been seen as the face of identity politics since he won the hotly-contested election to be Jakarta governor in 2017. His rival then, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an Indonesian-Chinese Christian, was accused by Islam fundamentalists of blasphemy for citing a Koran verse during the campaign, and was subsequently jailed for two years.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population but also has millions of non-Muslims. In this secular democratic country, albeit one with very strong Islamic influences, Anies has not always been seen as a religious conservative, observers say. Before running for governor, he was considered a moderate and a modernist Muslim, according to Eve Warburton, director of the Indonesia Institute at Australian National University.
He was once Widodo’s close aide and served as his campaign spokesman in the 2014 election, when Widodo was first elected president.

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