‘Santris’ have big influence on national political map

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias santris or people within the circles of the Islamic boarding schools have a big influence in the nations political map, a researcher said.

Santris account for a large proportion in the national population so that it is reasonable if their votes become the target of political contestants during a national election.

"Each time there is an election whether it is a local or national election, santris always become the target of electoral contestants. This is reasonable because santri is a big segment (of the voters) and could raise electability," Executive Director of Voxpol Center Reasearch and Consulting Pangi Syarwi Chaniago said here on Sunday.

He said politicians understand very well the existence of santris who are a large part of the voters and have a great influence on the political map.

Thus, the support of santris will provide a big and tangible contribution to the level of victory in the elections.

"Culturally, santris are very loyal to a kiai (Muslim cleric of the boarding school) who they respect as their teacher and leader," Chaniago said.

In order to get support from the santri circles, politicians have to make intensive approaches to kiais who have the authorities on pesantrens (Islamic boarding schools).

He said politicians should however make more intensive approaches now because kiais at present already have much experience and are smart in the face of the political situation which places them in the center of the fight for support.

"Warm welcome and hospitality given by kiyais and santris when politicians come to pesantrens does not mean they have given free political support," he said.

According to him, there is no line of command and instruction in terms of support that Kiyais should follow for certain candidates.

"This situation certainly opens space to each of the supporters of the presidential-vice presidential candidates to make a more intensive approach because the opportunity to gain support from santris is still wide open," he said.

However, Chaniago said santri and kiai voices often serve as a mere political commodity and are utilized only for the sake of political vehicles.

Source: ANTARA News

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