Incumbents entrench rule
Hans Nicholas Jong, Haeril Halim and Fedina S. Sundaryani
The Jakarta Post
Local elites have displayed their true political muscle in the country's first concurrent regional elections on Wednesday as incumbent influence turned out to be the decisive factor in gathering votes.
Political parties found victory by supporting incumbent regional heads instead of trying to propel new candidates to victory.
Preliminary results from quick counts have shown that the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which won the legislative elections last year, won in the regions ruled by PDI-P incumbents, such as in Surabaya, Denpasar and Surakarta.
The PDI-P also found victory in regions in which it, along with other political parties, supported local incumbents like in North Kalimantan and Medan.
In North Sulawesi, in which there were no incumbents running, the PDI-P secured a win for its senior politician, Olly Dondokambey.
Banjarmasin Mayor Muhidin Farid, paired with Regional Representatives Council (DPD) member Gusti Farid Hassan Aman, led the vote in South Kalimantan running on an independent ticket.
The pair were ahead of the Sahbirin Noor-Rudy Resnawan ticket, a ticket supported by a coalition of major political parties including the PDI-P and the Gerindra Party.
PDI-P election campaign team officer Sudiyatmoko Aribowo said that the party could have garnered a bigger victory if Wednesday's election had attracted a high number of voters across the country.
'Our campaign machines should also have done a job gaining more power in the election, but that's something that will become a part of our evaluation in the future,' Sudiyatmoko said.
Unlike in last year's general election, which saw participation levels at about 70 percent, low voter turnout was recorded in many regions on Wednesday, ranging between 30 to 50 percent.
Sudiyatmoko, however, claimed that the party still won in 152 out of a total of 256 elections participated in by the party.
Incumbent Airin Rahmy Diany, supported by the Golkar Party, won in South Tangerang. Airin beat two other tickets supported by the PDI-P and the Democratic Party.
The sister-in-law of former Banten governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah, Airin, secured support from local residents despite being tarnished by a string of major corruption cases that unseated and jailed Atut and his brother, Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, a local businessman and Airin's husband.
In West Sumatra, Irwan Prayitno of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) also secured his second term after beating his only contender, Kasim-Fauzi Bahar, supported by the PDI-P, the NasDem Party, the Hanura Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN).
Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) executive director Djayadi Hanan confirmed that most of the winners in Wednesday's elections were incumbent regional heads.
'It will be difficult to connect the winners of the elections with the parties who supported them,' he said.
NasDem Party chief Surya Paloh was happy with the results of the elections. He claimed that candidates supported by NasDem won in 129 regions.
'Corruption cases have had hardly any impact on voters,' he said.
Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Pandjaitan expressed his optimism that the party would win at least 30 percent of the elections based on quick counts its members had conducted at polling stations.
'Based on our initial calculations, we are in the running for 67 regions. The Democratic Party's goal is to win 30 percent and right now [if we win those 67 regions] then we will have secured around 26 percent, and this is around 80 percent [of our goal],' he said, emphasizing that those numbers were based on internal calculations and were not figures that had been calculated by the General Elections Commission (KPU).
Hinca could not answer when asked whether most of those who had won, based on the party's internal calculations, were incumbents because the vote counting had yet to be finished.
However, he noted that the party did back several incumbents who were known to be popular with locals, such as Karawang, West Java regent candidate Cellica Nurachadiana, who was paired with Ahmad Zamakhsari during this year's race. Hinca explained that the 35-year-old Cellica had been extremely popular when she was deputy regent and acting regent.
The KPU said that Wednesday's elections had run well and denied reports of low voter turnout in the regions.
KPU commissioner Arief Budiman said that 58 of the 264 regions that ran the elections reported average voter participation of 73 percent.
'There was no extraordinary event that hampered the election process today,' he said.
He acknowledged that there were reports of corrupt money in the elections, but claimed that vote-buying practices were 'small in scale'.
Simultaneous 2015 regional election schedule
* Dec. 9
* Dec. 9-15
Announcement of vote count in each polling station
* Dec. 10-16
Recapitulation of vote count at district level
* Dec. 16-18
Recapitulation of vote count at municipal/regency level
* Dec. 19-27
Recapitulation of vote count at gubernatorial level
* Dec. 21-22
Official announcement of the elected regents/mayors and their deputies
* Dec. 22-23
Official announcement of the elected governors and their deputies
Source: General Elections Commission (KPU) as compiled by The Jakarta Post
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