Jakarta election: Challenger Anies looks set to topple Ahok
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Jakarta election: Challenger Anies looks set to topple Ahok

WITH all major credible pollsters showing him in the lead, a senior figure from the Gerindra Party which backs Anies Baswedan has declared him the winner in the closely-watched race for Jakarta governor.

Indonesia’s capital voted in the second round of the gubernatorial election on Wednesday after a Feb 15 poll failed to produce a winner. The incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama gained the most votes in the first round with around 43 percent, however not securing the required 50 percent.

Indonesia’s house speaker Fadli Zon took to Twitter within two hours of polls closing to write “Jakarta’s new governor Anies Baswedan. Thank you, Jakarta.”

SEE ALSO: Jakarta Election: Who’s the man that might defeat Ahok?

Opinion polls conducted just prior to the Wednesday election showed the race was too close to call.

With around 50 percent of the quick count conducted, however, a number of credible pollsters show Anies leading the incumbent by 56-58 percent to 41-43 percent. Some seven million people in Jakarta were registered to vote.

With prior fears of mass mobilisation to polling stations to intimidate voters against voting for Ahok, Jakarta police said no major incidents had occurred during the voting process.

Edriana Noerdin, head of the Women Research Institute and a gender adviser to the Anies campaign told Asian Correspondent that Anies “can embrace all citizens, from so-called hardline groups like FPI to moderate Islamic groups, and leaders of other religions such as Christian leaders and the Chinese ethnic minority group.”

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Incumbent Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama votes along with his wife Veronica Tan and his son Nicholas (L) in the Jakarta governor election in North Jakarta, Indonesia April 19, 2017. Source: Reuters/Darren Whiteside

SEE ALSO: Race is anyone’s as Jakartans choose team for capital’s top job

“Ahok in a debate stated that he would not make peace with certain Islamic groups and only build dialogue with those that espouse Islam Nusantara,” she said.

Anies has attracted criticism in recent months for courting the conservative Muslim vote, after Ahok was charged with blasphemy for comments about the Quran leading to mass demonstrations against him over a number of months.

He has also gained support from low income residents by promising to end forced evictions in slum areas to make way for development – a major and highly controversial aspect of Ahok’s time in government.

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An Anies voter shows her support in West Cilandak, South Jakarta where the candidate cast his vote. 19 April 2017. Source: Asian Correspondent

SEE ALSO: Forced evictions a major issue as Jakarta goes to run-off election

“It’s important to look past religion and ethnicity, and think long-term about how far Jakarta has come and all the positive momentum Ahok’s policies and perseverance has created,” said Nila Tanzil, an Ahok supporter and CEO of Taman Bacaan Pelangi on Tuesday.

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Ahok supporters in Glodok, West Jakarta, 19 April 2017. Source: Asian Correspondent

But Noerdin said that “Ahok’s presence would only sharpen the polarisation in Jakarta, because not all groups can accept him.”

A result in the quick count is expected by the evening.