Jakarta Election: Quick count of polls point to Ahok losing to Anies, Ahok congratulates rival on victory

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The Muslim candidate in the race to become the next Jakarta governor takes a decisive lead according to pollsters in an election widely seen as a test of Indonesia's religious tolerance.
Quick counts point to challenger Anies Baswedan (right) beating incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (left). PHOTOS: EPA

JAKARTA - Former cultural and education minister Anies Baswedan and his running mate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, will be heading to City Hall, according to quick counts released after the gubernatorial election drew to a close on Wednesday (April 19).

Data collected by four Indonesian think-tanks, based on quick counts, indicate that they have secured almost 60 per cent of the votes cast, while incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat, recorded about 40 per cent.

These quick counts, which project results based on a sample of votes from various polling stations, have been largely accurate in previous elections.

The figures were taken from Populi Centre, Charta Politika, Indo Barometer and Vox Pol Centre at about 5pm local time (6pm in Singapore).

Although the official results of the election will only be out in May, these quick counts point to Basuki - better known by his Hakka nickname Ahok - losing the job he had inherited from President Joko Widodo after the latter was elected to the higher office in 2014.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Anies pledged to safeguard diversity and unity after the bitterly fought campaign.

"Our focus is social justice, ending inequality and our commitment is to safeguard diversity and unity," he said, adding that he would be in touch with his rival.

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In his remarks to the press, Basuki congratulated his rivals. "We still have six months until the new governor is inaugurated and we will finish up our homework," he said. "We hope that in the future everyone can forget the campaign period," he added.

Polls opened to a quiet start earlier in the day, but more voters started trickling to polling stations later in the morning and closer to lunchtime.

There are more than 7.2 million Jakarta residents who are registered to vote in this election run-off, held after none of the initial three pairs of candidates managed to secure the majority needed to win at the polls on Feb 15.

According to The Jakarta Post, analysts are expecting a record 80 per cent voter turn-out, or just a tad higher than the 77 per cent recorded the Jakarta General Elections Commission in the first round of the election in February.

The Basuki-Djarot ticket had garnered 42.9 per cent of the votes then, with Anies-Sandiaga taking about 40 per cent. But according to four surveys released just days before polls open on Wednesday, the challengers have a slender lead.

Wednesday's election is being held amid sectarian tensions and heightened security, with more than 60,000 security personnel - or double the force for the February polls - deployed at all polling centres across the capital, over fears of Islamic hardline groups intimidating voters or causing civil unrest.

This has been one of Indonesia's most polarising elections, plagued with street protests and attempted coups against the central government, as well as Basuki standing trial for blasphemy after he was charged for insulting Islam last September.

His rivals have capitalised on the blasphemy scandal and often played the religion card to score votes against Basuki, who as a Chinese and Christian, is a double minority in a country with the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Political watchers such as Associate Professor Leonard Sebastian have said this election will be a litmus test of the strength of Indonesian pluralism underlined by its national ideology of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means "unity in diversity".

"If Ahok prevails he will become the first elected Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta, demonstrating that the capital's voters have chosen pluralism over racial and religious affiliation," said the academic from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, referring to Basuki's Hakka nickname.

But Professor Sebastian also said that should Mr Anies win with the support of Muslim groups, it will signify the entrenched position of Islamist groups with their hardline political Islam inclinations.

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