Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Election for Jakarta's governor has brought new faces to
the fore. Causing a major surprise, the mayor of Solo (Central Java), Joko Widodo, won the first round.
Known by his nickname Jokowi, Widido, a Muslim and a member of the nationalist
Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDIP), came out nine points ahead of outgoing
Governor Fauzi Bowo, as well as Islamist candidates, former military and noted
Widido is backed by Solo's deputy mayor, Francis Xavier Hadi Rudyatmo, a
practicing Catholic, and Basuki Thahaja Orunama (aka Ahok), a Sino-Indonesian
Christian member of the nationalist Golkar party, famous for winning in
regional elections held in East Belitung Regency (Sumatra), an Islamist stronghold.
Over the years, Jokowi has been influenced by his relations with the two
Christians. All three have gained fame for focusing on their communities'
problems, especially corruption, which has dropped significantly in their
As Solo mayor, Jokowi gave up his salary and privileges to fund
anti-poverty programmes run by the city. He concentrated his efforts on
improving living conditions for the weakest groups in society like factory
workers, street vendors and rickshaw drivers.
His nation-wide recognition came after his deputy, Rudyatmo, led
demonstrations against higher fuel prices that brought the capital to a standstill.
Dubbed "disobedient", the Catholic political leader saw his popularity in Java jump
with voters eventually backing the candidate he supported.
In Indonesia, the gubernatorial vote in Jakarta is second in terms of importance only
to the presidential election. Anyone who leads the capital can project his status
and influence across the country.
Jokowi's first-round victory is a sign that President Yudhoyono's Democratic
Party (PKS), which backs Fauzi Bowo, is in trouble.
In recent months, the president's party has been weakened by a series of
corruption cases involving PKS lawmakers and party officials. This has
translated in a loss of support in opinion polls.
But that is not the only new factor. Islamist parties have also seen
their support decline.
After dominating the capital's politics for years, they suffered their
first major defeat in 2009, won by the PKS, Golkar and PDIP.
The rise of new leaders like Jokowi, Ahok and Rudyatmo is sign, experts
believe, that Java voters are more influenced by the media and reporting on politicians'
work than by mosques, ethnic-religious identity or powerful groups.