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The Impact of Political Identity Construction Against Political Dynamics of Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia (1998-2019)


After Indonesian Reformation in 1998, Muhammadiyah and NU as largest and mainstream Islamic organizations have more exis on the political stage, indeed these organizations are clearly stating for affirming to re- engage in practical politics. In fact, during the reformation period these organizations announced to withdraw from any political force, including the government and political parties and even though publics are largely known of their political representatives, i.e. Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) and Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB). However, these are seemingly incompatible with reality. Nevertheless, both Muhammadiyah and NU continuously built the discourse that represents their position as a large Islamic organization that politically neutral. This point is based on their religious arguments and the based on religious understanding that they believe in. That religious spirit in the perspective of constructivism approach is strongly influenced by the ideas (meanings), which accomplished through the discourses that are attached to their identities and expressed by various official documents and various statements of their figures and elites. This research focuses not only on the question of why politics of Muhammadiyah and NU based on identity occurs, but also focuses on the how the process of identity politics constructions during the Reformation period, especially related to discourses such as the democracy, nationalism and Islamic radicalism. Taking point of departure from historical facts before and during the reformation and based on actual and factual events of Muhammadiyah and NU, this research attempts to show that the process of construction of identity politics will always transform with the evolution of their identity. In addition, this research also wants to show that the construction of identity politics based on Wendt's constructivism can be a new alternative in analyzing the political attitudes and actions of Muhammadiyah and NU besides several factors such as rational choice, ideology, the logic of institutional, and social construction that are often used in many studies to examine these two Islamic organizations. Furthermore, this research explores the impact of the construction on the political activism of Muhammadiyah and NU during many different periods of leadership since the 1998 Reformation. By using constructivism, which focuses on the concept of identity by Alexander Wendt, this study attempts to show that identity plays a very significant role in determining the interests of actors, especially religion.

Key Words: Muhammadiyah, NU, constructivism, identity politics, identity