Jakarta governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, second from left, top, after being interrogated by the police earlier this month. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Blasphemy Case a Curse on Ahok's Approval Ratings

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Jakarta. A recent survey suggested the blasphemy case against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, which has sparked anger among hardline Muslims, has sunk his approval rating ahead of next year's Jakarta gubernatorial election.

The poll, conducted by Jakarta-based Charta Politika, was one of several in the last month which indicate the case has damaged Ahok's reputation and approval rating as governor of Jakarta, with only 28.9 percent of respondents saying they will stick with the incumbent next year.

The poll involved 733 respondents and was conducted between Nov. 17 and 24.

The Christian and ethnic-Chinese governor and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat were slightly behind contenders Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni, who led the poll with an approval rating of 29.5 percent.

The reasons most commonly cited by the survey's respondents for not favoring Ahok as governor was his "rough manner of speaking" (17.1 percent), "different religion" (15.9 percent) and tendency for "blasphemous speech" (6 percent).

"The respondents never mentioned the [blasphemy] case directly. But still, these three variables represent a potentially big problem for Ahok. Added up, quite a few people are starting to be wary of him," Charta Politika director Yunarto Wijaya said on Tuesday (29/11) during the survey's release in Jakarta.

Since the blasphemy investigation started, Jakarta has seen two rounds of protest rallies by Muslim hardliners in the last month against Ahok, who was eventually named as a suspect in the case earlier this month.

A poll recently released by the Indonesian Survey Circle showed Ahok's approval rating had plummeted from 24.6 percent to 10.6 percent when respondents were asked if they would still favor him as governor of Jakarta if he was named a blasphemy suspect.

Undaunted by their beating in the polls, Ahok and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat said they are still more than confident of winning the February Jakarta gubernatorial election.

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