Ahok loses governorship in Jakarta run-off
KONFRONTASI-On April 19th the capital, Jakarta, went to the polls for the second time in three months to cast votes for the two remaining mayoral candidates, the incumbent governor, Basuka Tjahja Purnama (known as Ahok), and Anis Baswedan.
Based on the quick count results, Mr Baswedan has emerged victorious with 57.4% of the votes while Ahok has secured 42.7%. The results were in stark contrast to how the dynamic stood in the first round in February, when Ahok had secured around 42.8% of the vote while Mr Baswedan trailed at 39.8%.
The Jakarta elections were fought more on religious and sectarian lines than on policy platforms. Ahok, one of the first politicians from the minority Christian Chinese community, has long faced criticism from hardline Muslim groups. Objections came to the fore when a blasphemy case was brought against Ahok for allegedly misusing a verse from the Quran during a campaign rally, a charge that he denies. Blasphemy is seen as a serious offence in Indonesia and cases are rarely acquitted. This quickly made a dent on Ahok's erstwhile popularity. He had, as a reform-minded governor, ramped up efforts to reduce graft and improve the business environment in the capital. However, his sometimes brusque personality made him a divisive candidate to start with.
Mr Baswedan, however, was viewed as much more personable and suave. He also warmed himself to the more conservative Muslim community, and even extremist groups such as the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI), which instigated the blasphemy case against Ahok. Mr Baswedan also has the endorsement of Prabowo Subianto, the leader of the opposition Gerindra party in the House of the People's Representative (DPR, the parliament). Mr Subianto was the main rival of the incumbent president, Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi), during the 2014 presidential election. He has since kept a low profile but remained in the opposition. The Jakarta election provided a platform for him and his political allies to impress upon the electorate. As such, a win by his preferred candidate would propel his political position on the national platform. This is the desired outcome for Mr Subianto ahead of the 2019 presidential election, when he will no doubt contest against Jokowi once again.
Impact on the forecast
The Jakarta mayoral election is a good bellwether for the 2019 general and presidential polls. Ahok's loss strengthens the position of Jokowi's rival in the next presidential election.
mr l country.ieu.com