Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The election campaign for the post of governor of Jakarta, a key office in Indonesian politics, is now underway, and will end in July 2017 when the vote is held.
The first important news of the campaign is that outgoing governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, is running again. The second is that he is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P*) as well as Golkar (the country’s second largest party), but opposed by radical Islamic parties.
Amien Rais, a Muslim and former speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR**), has taken the lead in opposing the Christian candidate. He attacked Ahok for his Chinese ancestry, for "not being qualified" for the post, and for his Christian faith.
Several analysts point out that Jakarta’s current governor has become a "common enemy" for many Islamist politicians because of the rising importance of the office (Ahok’s predecessor was current President Joko Widodo).
In addition, his administration’s fight against corruption since he came into office in 2014 has ruffled quite a few feathers. The first victims of the crackdown were dishonest lawmakers who boosted the use of public funds for private purposes.
Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is also one of the few Indonesian political leaders who has defended freedom of conscience.
Last June he opposed forcing female students to wear the Islamic veil. In July 2015, he defended the civil rights of Ahmadis, a Muslim minority considered heretical by majority Sunni Muslims.
Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is running against Ahok. A major in the Indonesian army, he is giving up a promising military career in order to get into the electoral ring.
He is doing so in blatant contradiction to his father who, in a 2009 address to young Indonesians, said, "It would be something wrong if you were young officers just out of the military,” and later chose “to become candidates for the office of mayor, district chief, or governor, for other motives.”
Another candidate who promises a battle is Sandiaga S. Uno, a very popular businessman who chose as his running mate the country’s former Education Minister who was fired by Widodo last July.
* Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan
** Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat