02/16/2017, 10.31
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Elections in Jakarta: Election of governor goes to run off

by Mathias Hariyadi

In the first round the outgoing governor "Ahok", a Christian at the center of a story of a blasphemy case, won 43% of the votes. His rival Baswedan, a Muslim, just below the 40% threshold. Decisive 17% of the votes won by the eldest son of former President Yudhoyono. The vote took place without incident. Second round to be held on 19 April.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The race for the post of governor of Jakarta will be decided in the second round because no candidate has obtained 50% of votes needed to win on the first ballot. According to (unofficial)  the outgoing Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama - on trial for an alleged blasphemy case that has polarized the election campaign - got 43% of the votes. His main opponent Anies Rasyid Baswedan, leader of an Islamic conservative party, totaled just under 40%.

Analysts and experts point out that the votes won the first round by the third candidate will be decisive. Harimurti Agus Yudhoyono, himself a Muslim and eldest son of former President Susilo, gained 17%. If voters will decide on the basis of "religious" sympathies, this choice should favor Baswedan but there are no certainties.

The official results of the first round should be published by the end of the month. The runoff between "Ahok" and his rival from the Islamist party is scheduled for next April 19.

Yesterday not only Jakarta voted, but in 101 regional districts scattered around the country (Pilkada). An election that highlighted the deep sectarian ethnic divisions that have come to obscure the real socio-economic problems facing the nation.

Purnama, better known by his nickname "Ahok", was the first Christian ethnic Chinese to be elected governor of the capital in over 50 years. He was the deputy to the Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and replaced him when the latter decided to run for the highest office in the country.

However, in recent months the Islamic extremist fringe has mounted a smear campaign - with racist attacks and violent protests - against the outgoing governor, who has ended up on trial for insulting the Islamic faith.

Supported by President Widodo, in recent years he distinguished himself in the fight against corruption, attempts to counter the perpetually congested traffic of the capital, the fight against vice, as well as the strengthening of the health and education sectors. His fiercest opponents in the last few months are drawn from the party of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose eldest son ran for governor.

Despite a context of tensions and divisions the vote took place in a calm atmosphere and without any accidents. Police and security forces manned the polling stations to prevent possible clashes between the parties. Some voters in Jakarta, complained of being unable to vote because of the long queues and, in the afternoon, because stations had run out of ballots.

Many believe this vote does not only reflect the race for the office of governor, but the future of "unity in diversity" that is the basis of modern Indonesia. In an increasingly polarized environment, the Islamic extremist fringe it is becoming increasingly strong and aspires to power both at the local level, and national level. Noting this both the Indonesian bishops and Catholic leaders have asked believers to vote for "nationalistic" figures who care about the plurality and multicultural richness of the country.


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