The 8th presidential election in Indonesia occurring in 2019 was heavily peppered with religious narratives and the mobilisation of sectarians. As a result, as found in several observation reports, the demographic analysis of each candidate's vote revealed a sectarian split where Joko Widodo’s landslide victory occurred in all provinces where the majority of the population was not Muslim and his considerable defeat in many Muslim-majority areas. This is a big threat to the sustainability of democracy in Indonesia. If we examine the narratives circulated in mass media and social media, the main actors spreading sectarian narratives during the 2019 elections were anti-democratic groups. By using the concept of sectarianism and radical transnational networks, this article argues two points: (1) the sectarian narratives used by antidemocratic forces in Indonesia are related to radical transnational networks; (2) therefore, in preserving democracy, the Indonesian government cannot solely focus on the democratic narrative but should also link this phenomenon with transnational radical networks. The authors hope that this analysis can contribute to the discourse of how democratic forces should deal with forces of anti-democracy.


Keywords: democracy, Indonesia election, radical transnational networks, sectarianism.