THERE is an Indonesian saying – siapa menabur angina, akan menuai badai – meaning “whoever sows the wind will reap the storm.”
With 99 percent of quick count vote data entered, it looks as though Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has reaped the storm of his clumsy comments last year regarding the Quran whilst campaigning in the capital’s Thousand Islands region.
While the electoral commission stated that the quick count is not the final result, early data from most pollsters suggest Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno managed to secure a comfortable lead of some 57-58 percent of the vote compared Ahok and Djarot Saiful Hidayat’s 42 percent.
Ahok himself has reportedly congratulated his opponent, although he says he will wait for the final tally.
Ahok congratulates Anies but says will wait for formal vote count. "We will work hard to completeprograms we have worked on." #pilkadaDKI
— Jewel Topsfield (@JewelTopsfield) April 19, 2017
Nila Tanzil a prominent Ahok supporter and CEO of Taman Bacaan Pelangi told Asian Correspondent this week that “I was born and raised in Jakarta and I have never seen improvements like we’ve had under Ahok.”
“Ahok has shown that progress is possible… in politics everyone has their interests and Ahok’s interests are all centered around tough decisions that will ultimately make Jakarta a better place.”
But this election has not been based around policy, given that roughly three out of four Jakartans approved of Ahok’s performance as governor, yet he proved less popular than Anies on election day.
Having struggled early in the campaign, Anies emerged to defeat the incumbent on Wednesday, riding a wave of anti-Ahok sentiment spurred by the latter’s comments regarding Al Maidah 51 – a Quranic verse which deals with whether Muslims can elect a non-Muslim.
Ahok represents two minority communities in Indonesia, being ethnically Chinese and a Christian.
Issues around religion in Indonesia are highly sensitive and it is unusual for a seasoned politician like Ahok to make such a gaffe. While Ahok won 43 percent of the vote in February to Anies’ 40, his allegedly blasphemous remarks appear to have cost him in a city that is 85 percent Muslim.
Indonesia’s house speaker Fadli Zon, of the Gerindra Party which backs Anies, took to Twitter within two hours of polls closing to write “Jakarta’s new governor Anies Baswedan. Thank you, Jakarta.”
— Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) April 19, 2017
Many observers will likely laud Anies’ victory as one for populist, sectarian politics.
However, Anies is a former university rector who was praised for his establishment of Mengajar Indonesia – an initiative that sends outstanding Indonesian graduates to teach in impoverished parts of the vast archipelago.
Anies is one of Indonesia's foremost intellectuals. Fulbright scholar, PhD in PolSci. Not comparable to Trump's victory, IMO #PilkadaDKI
— Sophie Qin (@SophieQin_) April 19, 2017
Edriana Noerdin, a prominent Anies-Sandi supporter, gender adviser to their campaign and head of the Jakarta-based Women Research Institute told Asian Correspondent this week that Anies stands for “pro-people” policies, while Ahok is “pro-developers.”
Edriana happens to be married to a Chinese Indonesian who is a Christian.
Anies and Sandiaga have promised to end forced evictions of Jakarta’s poor – an issue that has turned many former supporters of Ahok against him.
“Anies aims to manage the city with no forced eviction policies. It’s part of his commitment. Anies will accept the court’s decision to stop the [Jakarta Bay] reclamation,” said Edriana.
It was not only sectarian factors that saw Ahok’s popularity decline significantly. He was not a pro-poor governor and it came to bite him at the ballot box.
Edriana said “Anies is fulfilling his role as a leader of Jakarta with a strong narrative of uniting and bringing together the people of Jakarta.”
As his victory closed in on Wednesday, Anies tweeted that “Friends, whoever you have chosen, let’s embrace each other, it’s time for Jakarta to move forward happily together.”
— Anies Baswedan (@aniesbaswedan) April 19, 2017