Feb. 15 Regional Elections: What You Need to Know
Jakarta. Indonesians will go to the polls on Wednesday, Feb. 15, to elect regional heads in more than 100 provinces, cities, and districts, with the contest for the powerful post of Jakarta governor turning into one of the more divisive political battles in the country's democratic era.
The race to lead the city of more than 10 million is being fought by three powerful candidates whose rivalry has triggered mass protests and stirred religious and political tensions in the world's third-largest democracy.
Candidates in the Jakarta election
Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama
The incumbent governor took over running Jakarta in 2014 when his then boss, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, won the presidency. Ahok, 50, is the city's first ethnic Chinese and Christian leader. He was accused of insulting the Holy Koran in a speech on Pramuka Island, an event which triggered radical Islamic groups to gather their forces against the former East Belitung district head.
Ahok has denied wrongdoing, but is on trial for blasphemy in a case which is proving to be a test of religious freedom in the Muslim-majority country. Some say the case is politically motivated to bring down the popular governor.
Ahok is backed by the country's ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Ahok's popular policies include a commitment to tackling chronic flooding and traffic gridlocks in the city and improving and cleaning up the bureaucracy.
Agus is the oldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and retired from the military at 38 to run for the governorship.
He is backed by the Democratic Party, in which his father is a chairman, and a number of Islamic parties.
In his campaign Agus has been promising to improve the lives of Jakarta's poor with cash handouts to low-income families.
Anies, 47, was the former education minister in President Jokowi's government.
He is supported by Gerindra, a party headed by Jokowi's rival in the 2014 presidential election, former military strongman Prabowo Subianto.
Anies's campaign has focused on improving public education and combating the rising costs of living in the capital.
Voting process in Jakarta
Voting will take place on Feb. 15. Official results are expected to be announced on March 8-10. If no candidates achieves a majority in the first round, a runoff is expected in May between the two candidates securing the most votes. Defeated candidates can dispute the results in the Constitutional Court.
What happens if Ahok is convicted of blasphemy
If incumbent governor Ahok wins the Jakarta election but is convicted of blasphemy, he is legally allowed to assume office as long as the appeal process is ongoing.
By the numbers
7.1 million people are registered to vote in Jakarta.
Elections will be held for governors, mayors and district heads in 101 regions throughout the country. Seven provinces, including Jakarta, will choose a governor and there will be 18 city elections and 76 district elections.
Reuters & the Jakarta GlobeTags: