Elec­tion in Jakarta heads for a run-off

The Star Late Edition - - WORLD -

THE RACE to be­come gover­nor of In­done­sia’s cap­i­tal was neck and neck in early count­ing yes­ter­day and head­ing for a sec­ond round be­tween the in­cum­bent Chris­tian gover­nor and a Mus­lim for­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, sam­ple counts showed.

The Jakarta poll has been over­shad­owed by re­li­gious ten­sions, with mass Is­lamist-led protests against Gover­nor Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama, an eth­nic Chi­nese Chris­tian.

The vote is also be­ing widely seen as a proxy bat­tle for the 2019 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Pur­nama had se­cured 42.57% of the votes, just ahead of for­mer min­is­ter Anies Baswedan in sec­ond place with 40.23%, based on a quick sam­ple count of about 40% of the vote by pri­vate polling firm SMRC.

A can­di­date needs more than 50% of the votes in the first round to win out­right.

The job of gover­nor can be a spring­board to the pres­i­dency and weeks of cam­paign­ing have been ac­com­pa­nied by mud­sling­ing, po­lit­i­cal in­trigue and ris­ing hard­line Is­lamist sen­ti­ment, rais­ing ques­tions about the role of re­li­gion in pol­i­tics. Pur­nama has been cam­paign­ing while on trial on a charge of in­sult­ing the Qur’an, a case that has brought Mus­lims onto the streets, urg­ing vot­ers to shun a non-Mus­lim as leader.

He de­nies the charge and af­ter dip­ping in the polls his sup­port re­bounded, which an­a­lysts at­tribute to his record of im­prov­ing the bu­reau­cracy and eas­ing con­ges­tion and flood­ing in Jakarta. Reuters

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