Jakarta elections set to go into second round after quick counts confirm tight race between Ahok-Djarot and Anies-Sandiaga

 Jakarta governor candidate Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (left), also known as Ahok, and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat waving to the crowd in Jakarta on Feb 11, 2017.
Jakarta governor candidate Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (left), also known as Ahok, and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat waving to the crowd in Jakarta on Feb 11, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA - The Jakarta elections is set to go into round two after quick counts from Wednesday's (Feb 15) polls showed that neither incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat, or their closest rivals from the opposition Gerindra Party were able to garner the majority vote.

The Ahok-Djarot pair took an early lead in quick counts, snapping up as high as 58 per cent of the votes an hour after polls closed an hour earlier. But they later lost their lead in the same count by Polmark just 10 minutes later when their numbers fell to 40.8 per cent - as more votes were recorded - to the Gerindra Party pair of former education minister Anies Baswedan and businessman Sandiaga Uno who took 41.9 per cent. 

The two pairs would exchange leads in several other snap counts being taken by various other pollsters on Wednesday (Feb 15) as the simultaneous elections come to a close.

Former army major Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and veteran bureaucrat Sylviana Murni from the Democratic Party was the odd pair that remained  at the bottom of the surveys. 

The first snap poll released by Cyrus Network, a Jakarta-based electoral research firm, and posted posted on BeritaSatu.com news website just minutes after polls in the capital closed saw Basuki and Mr Djarot record 51.1 per cent of the votes.

More quick count results will be announced in the rest of the day as polling centres start consolidating the ballots from more than 13,000 polling centres across the capital.

Observers have said the Jakarta polls may have a bearing on the 2019 presidential race, mainly because the city’s last elected governor, Mr Joko Widodo, is now Indonesia’s seventh president.

This particular election has also been referred to as a proxy for the next presidential polls because the incumbents, who are backed by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), are facing off with rivals who are supported by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Prabowo Subianto, a former presidential candidate and Gerindra Party patron. 

Dr Yudhoyono has had a tenuous relationship with his successor Mr Joko, while Mr Prabowo has hinted strongly that he will be making a second bid for the presidency against Mr Joko, whom he lost to in 2014.

There is also the ongoing blasphemy trial against Basuki, who has faced increasing opposition not just from his political opponents but also from hardline Muslims who do not want a non-Muslim to lead the capital.

Candidates will need more than 50 per cent of the votes in the official count to be announced in March, to win the election. If not, a second round will be held between the top two performers from the this stage.