Ahok-Djarot, Anies-Sandi Set for Second-Round Runoff


FEBRUARY 15, 2017

Jakarta. The race to become governor of Jakarta was neck and neck in early counting on Wednesday (15/02) and heading for a second round between the incumbent and a former education minister, survey agency real counts showed.

The Jakarta gubernatorial election has been overshadowed by religious tensions, with mass protests by hardline Muslim groups against Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian.

The vote is also being widely seen as a proxy battle for the 2019 presidential election.

Ahok had secured 43.05 percent of the votes, just ahead of former minister Anies Baswedan in second place with 39.86 percent, based on a real count survey of around 99.88 percent of the vote by private polling agency Cyrus Network.

The other candidate, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, was in third place with 17.09 percent. Other pollsters showed similar results.

Since there are no candidates reaching more than 50 percent of the votes, the election will go to second round to decide the winner. The second round vote will be held on April 19.

The job of governor can be a springboard to the presidency and weeks of campaigning have been overshadowed by mudslinging, political intrigue and rising hardline Islamist sentiment, raising questions about the role of religion in politics.

"We hope that everybody can return as a family after these elections," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said after voting in Jakarta earlier in the day.

Ahok was a deputy to Jokowi when he was the previous Jakarta governor and Jokowi's party is backing him in the current election.

Ahok has been campaigning while standing trial on a charge of insulting the Koran, a case that has brought Muslims onto the streets, urging voters to shun a non-Muslim as leader.

He denies the charge and after dipping in opinion polls his support rebounded, which analysts attribute to his record of improving the bureaucracy and easing congestion and flooding in Jakarta.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but is officially secular and home to minority Christian and Hindu communities, as well as hundreds of ethnic groups.

Anies is backed by a former general who Jokowi beat in the last presidential election in 2014, Prabowo Subianto, who is promising a comeback to the national stage.

The elections in the capital, alongside scores of other regional polls in the world's third-largest democracy, were peaceful and mostly running without hitches, police said.

Police had deployed 75,000 personnel across Indonesia with 16,000 in Jakarta, over concerns that hardline Muslim groups may again take to the streets to oppose Ahok.