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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Muslim Candidate Takes Decisive Lead in Jakarta Governor Election

BANGKOK - Muslim candidate Anies Baswedan has surged to an early lead against his Christian rival in the Jakarta governor elections, according to quick counts released Wednesday.

Official results of the polls, in which 7.2 million Indonesians were eligible to vote, are expected to be announced in early May.

Pollster LSI predicted a victory for Baswedan with 55.66 percent of the votes, against 44.34 percent of votes for incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok.

SMRC, another leading pollster, also tipped Baswedan for victory with 59.01 percent of votes, against Ahok's 40.99 percent.

Others, including PolMark, Populi Center and Indo Barometer followed the same pattern, putting Baswedan in first place with 56.43, 57.98, and 58.89 percent, respectively, and Ahok with 43.57, 42.02, and 41.11 percent, respectively.

While these counts are not official, they are recognized by Indonesia's Election Commission, as more than 80 percent of the ballots have been counted and the gap is large enough to make the chances of a different outcome slim.

Prosperous Justice Party Chairman Sohibul Iman congratulated the victor at a press conference, saying that "more than 50 percent" of voters had elected Baswedan.

The elections have been marred by protests from hard-line Islamists, led by the radical group Islamic Defenders Front, who oppose Ahok's possible re-election.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, has been accused of blasphemy for alleged comments he made about Islam in September 2016.

Despite this, he won the first round of the election on Feb. 15, securing 43 percent of the votes.

Wednesday's vote is regarded by some as a test of religious pluralism in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, ahead of its 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections.

 

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