Jakarta rejects Christian governor, early results show

Jakarta rejects Christian governor, early results show

Jakarta rejects Christian governor, early results show

"This election makes it a bit worse, but it's part of a trend dating back at least 10 years".

One day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to arrive for a two-day visit, more than 60,000 police and soldiers are being deployed in a bid to prevent violence, especially from hardline Islamists who accuse Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of blasphemy.

His troubles began in September when he lightheartedly said in a speech that his rivals were tricking people into voting against him by using a Koranic verse, which some interpret as meaning Muslims should only choose Muslim leaders.

Ahok detractors have warned Muslims they won't be prayed for upon their death if they vote for a non-Muslim.

The FPI has threatened mass protests if Purnama wins.

Supporters of Mr Basuki have accused his political opponents of orchestrating the demonstrations to sabotage his campaign.

The official results of the election will be available next week.

The race was already significant as politicians see the job as a stepping stone to the presidency at 2019 polls, but the stakes were raised dramatically by a controversy sparked by claims that Purnama had insulted the Koran.

Purnama won a three-way first-round vote on Feb 15, securing 43 percent of the votes.

Recent polls indicate that the candidates are in a dead heat.

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The second interesting observation from yesterday's election is that the last minute support that Ahok and Djarot's camp received from the PKB (National Awakening Party) and the PPP (Development United Party), two Islamic political parties that previously supported Agus Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni, was clearly insufficient.

While the candidates have debated bread-and-butter issues on live national television - including Jakarta's chronic flooding problems, a lack of reliable public transportation and inadequate public housing - religion and ethnicity have tainted the race from the beginning, according to analysts.

Mr Lindsey said Ahok has been a relatively effective governor, who has cracked down on official corruption and made tough decisions. If elected, he would be the first non-Muslim directly elected to the prominent post.

Purnama was not elected governor, but moved up from the deputy governorship after then-governor Widodo was elected Indonesia's president in 2014. He has regularly berated civil servants as corrupt and incompetent in contrast to his squeaky clean, "can-do" style of management.

Political watchers such as Associate Professor Leonard Sebastian had said the election would be a test of pluralism and political Islam. "And he's been very self-disciplined in what he says, and he needs that to win".

Baswedan "would likely play it safe rather than bring drastic changes", said Taye Shim, head of research at Jakarta-based brokerage Mirae Asset Sekuritas.

After an anti-Purnama protest a year ago turned violent, authorities are taking no chances and over 60,000 security forces had been deployed.

A survey conducted April 12-14 by polling firm Indikator showed Anies with 48.2 per cent support versus 47.4 per cent for Purnama, with 4.4 per cent undecided.

Mr Basuki owes some of his gains to the support of Muslim voters like Ms Novaliana Tambunan, 36, a civil servant. More than 80% of Indonesia's population professes Islam.

"We are anxious things could be hotter if the results are quite close", said Isabella Hariyono, a 30-year-old voter in North Jakarta. At Luar Batang, where Prabowo's party has set up tents for those evicted from their homes, the woman at the street cafe said people are exhausted of politicians' false promises and warned that frustration could boil over if Purnama wins the vote.

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