Indonesia's regional elections

World Cup fever, school break hit turnout in West Java

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and his wife Atalia Praratya showing their marked fingers after voting yesterday.
Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and his wife Atalia Praratya showing their marked fingers after voting yesterday.PHOTO: RIDWAN KAMIL'S FACEBOOK PAGE

West Javanese are among the most football fanatic groups of people in Indonesia, and that was reconfirmed at yesterday's polls.

Several polling stations here in the provincial capital of Bandung had the 2018 World Cup decor, even in some of the predominantly conservative Muslim neighbourhoods.

The leading gubernatorial candidate in West Java, Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil, turned up at a polling station wearing the jersey of the Spanish football team, while his wife Atalia Praratya and son Emmiril Khan Mumtadz were in the colours of the Portugal and England teams respectively.

Some officials manning polling stations were attired in jerseys of football teams playing in the ongoing World Cup in Russia.

While late night World Cup games caused many to show up late at polling stations - if they turned up at all - the post-Hari Raya mood and school holidays caused a low turnout at many middle-class residential complexes in the main West Java city as many were still away on vacation.

Retired civil servant Ndang Heriyanto, 60, who lives in Cihaurgeulis in Bandung, told The Straits Times that he sees all four gubernatorial candidates as good.

However, he is deciding between lawmaker Tubagus Hasanuddin, who is backed by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and retired two-star general Sudrajat, backed by the opposition Gerindra party.

Said Mr Ndang: "Since all four (gubernatorial) candidates are good, I would select based on religion, and (Tubagus and Sudrajat) are the stronger Muslims."

Mr Yocky Kresna Diansyah, who was in charge of administering a polling station in the Cigadung area, where Mr Ridwan and his family cast their ballots, told ST that the turnout yesterday was 76 per cent, down from nearly 80 per cent in the previous election.

"We just had Hari Raya and we are in the middle of school break. Some residents are away on vacation," said Mr Yocky.

Mr Ridwan garnered 64 per cent of the votes at that polling station.

West Java is the most populous among Indonesia's 34 provinces, with 30 million voters.

A polling station in Babakan Ciamis and many other places, including that in Cihaurgeulis, got off to slow starts as sleepy residents opted to come nearer to the 1pm closing.

Many had watched the Argentina-Nigeria match.

Ms Rani, an official with election supervisory agency Bawaslu, who was on duty at the Babakan Ciamis polling station, said the school break that runs until July 16 had also reduced the turnout there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'World Cup fever, school break hit turnout in West Java'. Print Edition | Subscribe