09/21/2012, 00.00
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Jakarta: election victory for challenging duo, ethnic Chinese Christian deputy governor

by Mathias Hariyadi
According to exit polls, Jokowi-Ahok ticket has won (with 53% of the vote). Analysts and experts speak of "historic victory ", which will be also reflected in the national political landscape. The election campaign marked by personal attacks against the Christian candidate.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - It has yet to be officially confirmed but according to the exit polls the first results of Jakarta government elections indicate a victory for Joko Widodo and his deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnawa to govern the Indonesian capital from October 7 next. Yesterday's vote for governor and deputy governor seems to have come out in favour of the challenging pair , the victim in recent weeks of a smear campaign on ethnic and confessional lines (see AsiaNews 27/08/2012 Campaign against Chinese Christian candidate in Jakarta gubernatorial race), aimed at ensuring the confirmation of the outgoing governor Fauzi "Foke" Bowo, supported by fringe Muslims.

Jakarta has always been considered a sort of miniature laboratory of the Indonesian political landscape, which is why such a victory will have a significant implication in the national context for the major parties ahead of the presidential elections of 2014. In the first round, held on 11 July, the challenging pair took a surprise lead with 42.6% of votes, while Bowo stopped at 34.05%. According to the initial results, the ballot has confirmed the result of the first round with the duo Jokowi-Ahok winners with 53% of the vote.

Indonesian political analysts and experts talk of "historic victory ", which will see "popular" leaders become the administrative heads of the capital, of a different ethnicity and religion from the vast majority of citizens. Joko Widodo, the outgoing governor of Solo, in central Java, is a practicing Muslim and liberal. His deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnawa is a Christian, a native of South Sumatra.

Jokowi has received awards and declarations of appreciation for the work done in Solo, where in the last seven years he held the office of mayor. His work has been widely and politically supported by his Catholic deputy-mayor, a noted politician in Solo as well as a good catholic figure due to his activity in his parish church as a "lay" deacon who helps the priest to render the holy bread during communion or pay visit to sick people when the priest is not around.

The entire election campaign for the office of governor in Jakarta was characterized by personal attacks against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama because he is of ethnic Chinese descent  - he was born in Solo, in central Java - and a Christian. Articles and defamatory slogans threatened to exacerbate the interfaith clash and give new impetus to the tensions between religious groups. In the past, in fact, the Muslim majority has targeted the ethnic Chinese minority - of Christian or Buddhist religion- for example in May 1998, during the Suharto dictatorship, when thousands of people were attacked with unprecedented and brutal violence. Over the years there have been other assaults on the minority further underlining the "fragility" of the social fabric of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.



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