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The fact that Joko “Jokowi” Widodo came first in the July 11 Jakarta gubernatorial election, surpassing incumbent Fauzi Bowo, shocked many, including the incumbent himself, who was very optimistic in relation to winning round one.
Many analyses have been made over the unexpected initial victory of the Surakarta mayor, who picked Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaya Purnama, former legislator of the Golkar Party, as his running mate. But will Jokowi repeat his success in the runoff election?
According to the Jakarta Election Commission’s (KPU Jakarta) final count, Jokowi won 1,847,157 votes (42.60 percent) while Fauzi won 1,476,648 (34.05 percent). Only 4.4 million of the more than 6.9 million people on the list of registered voters came out to the polling stations, and more than 2.5 million people chose to stay home.
Optimism is still the mood in the Jokowi-Ahok camp in facing the runoff election on Sept. 20. Jokowi’s success deserves some celebrating by his supporters.
It has turned all analyses up on its head — even the result of the surveys done before the election that predicted Fauzi as the strongest candidate.
Of course, Jokowi, who was nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Gerindra Party, will gain an advantage from his success in the first round.
Nearly all commentators and media coverage highlighted positive aspects of the Jokowi-Ahok team, due to the surprising result that will, more or less, positively affect their electability in the runoff election.
His past successes in governing Surakarta, and his interesting personality, have frequently become favored consumption in the media.
But the runoff election will not be easy for Jokowi’s camp. His success in the first round election is not yet decisive enough to say that he will definitely win the runoff election. Fauzi Bowo could still have an opportunity to exact revenge in the second round.
It is true that Governor Fauzi is now under pressure by his defeat. He has to swallow the reality that he was less popular than men from outside the city. He may come realize that support from political parties does not mean much.
But Fauzi and his campaign team seem to be learning from his first round defeat. As an incumbent, whether it is ethical or not, he has an opportunity to steal the show through the policies he has already made as governor of Jakarta. And he seems to be doing just that.
Only recently, the Jakarta city administration announced that it would provide free education in the city up to the senior high school level. Currently, free education has been provided up to junior high schools, thanks to his predecessor, Sutiyoso.
The City Transportation Agency also announced that it has decided to utilize the heavily-criticized idle monorail pillars for supporting elevated roads that will be used for the bus rapid transit (BRT) project. It is difficult not to relate those policies with Fauzi’s efforts to respond to criticism that he has failed to address the city’s traffic chaos.
The runoff election will be a tough battle for both candidates. There are still numerous voters who have not yet sided with either candidate: 2.5 million who did not use their rights in the first round, 508,113 who voted for Hidayat Nur Wahid, 215,935, who voted for Faisal Basri, 202,643 who voted for Alex Noerdin and 85,990 voters who voted for Hendardji Soepandji.
Both Jokowi and Fauzi are openly trying to win Hidayat’s voters. Soon after Jokowi was indicated as qualifying in the runoff election, he met Hidayat, who was the candidate for the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Meanwhile, Fauzi reportedly met with chairman of PKS’ board of patrons, Helmi Aminuddin, in trying to stop Jokowi’s move. Fauzi may have a greater chance to win PKS’ voters, considering the voters’ conservativeness.
Due to the tough competition, the use of slur campaigns is inevitable. Whether it is by design or not, Ahok’s religion (Christian) and ethnicity (Chinese) are exploited. If it succeeds, Fauzi’s camp will benefit.
The negative campaigns have also targeted Governor Fauzi. Through pictures distributed through BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Fauzi is portrayed as former German dictator Adolf Hitler, while Jokowi is portrayed as US President Barack Obama.
Both candidates have done and will surely do as much as they can to win the runoff election.
There are, however, several big questions which remain unanswered: Will 2.5 million voters utilize their right to vote on Election Day? If they will, who will they be voting for?
Will religion and ethnicity count for the voters? Will all of Fauzi’s efforts to improve his image and reputation work?
Unfortunately, it seems that no one can answer these questions. Therefore, the second round election will remain as tough and unpredictable as the first round election.
The writer is a journalist at The Jakarta Post.