Incumbents, former leaders remain too strong for newbies
Indra Harsaputra, Apriadi Gunawan, Ganug Nugroho Adi and Suherdjoko
The Jakarta Post
The country's first-ever simultaneous nationwide regional elections (Pilkada) on Wednesday have proven to be a tough battlefield for first-time candidates, as quick counts in many of the country's major cities reveal that most incumbents and newly stepped-down leaders have easily secured their reelection bids.
In the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya, mayoral candidate Tri Rismaharini and running mate Wisnu Sakti Buana met their supporters in an early celebration on Wednesday afternoon after a number of polls confirming that the pair was leading the vote count with a comfortable margin.
Risma, who completed her first term as Surabaya mayor in late September, said that she considered her anticipated victory a stepping stone to the continued development of the country's second-largest city.
'This [election] is not about winning or losing, but about how we build a better Surabaya,' she told reporters and her supporters.
With 2.1 million registered voters, the Surabaya mayoral contest was the largest election among the 260 municipalities and regencies scheduled to participate in the Pilkada on Wednesday.
Risma, who was first elected mayor in 2010, rose to popularity after her success in transforming Surabaya, once a neglected city, into a metropolis with many first class public parks.
Soon after the end of the official vote counts in polling station across the city, Jakarta-based pollster Indo Barometer announced that the Risma-Wisnu pair had managed to secure 86.63 percent of votes, far higher than the 14.37 percent collected by its only rival, the Rasiyo-Lucy Kurniasari pair.
Another quick count organized by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the country's largest political party and the main supporter of the Risma-Wisnu ticket, meanwhile, claimed that the pair had secured a landslide victory with support from 86 percent of voters.
In Medan, North Sumatra, dozens of supporters for mayoral candidate Dzulmi Eldin flocked to the city's thoroughfare after a number of quick counts revealed that the former mayor had won the election with a landslide margin.
Dzulmi concluded his first leadership term earlier this year and subsequently gathered support from a coalition of seven political parties to seek reelection. He and running mate Akhyar Nasution were vying against former lawmaker Ramadhan Pohan and his running mate Eddie Kusuma.
Medan General Elections Commission (KPUD) member Pandapotan Tamba, however, said that the KPUD would officially announce the winner of the election only after it completed counting all the ballots.
'This [Wednesday] evening, we will start uploading vote count results from polling stations,' he said.
Medan, Sumatra's biggest city, is home to more than 2 million people and numerous tourist attractions.
In South Tangerang, Banten, incumbent mayor Airin Rachmy Diany also easily secured her reelection after she and running mate Benyamin Davnie managed to snap up around 60 percent of votes, according to several pollsters.
In Surakarta, Central Java, supporters of mayoral candidate FX Hadi 'Rudy' Rudyatmo also claimed that the former mayor had won the city's election, as the camp's internal quick count revealed that Rudy had clinched the victory with almost 60 percent of votes.
Surakarta is home to 550,000 people and dozens of listed heritage buildings, making it one of the country's main tourist attractions. The city is also the hometown of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who served as mayor from 2005 to 2012.
In the Central Java capital of Semarang, two former mayors, Hendar Prihadi and Soemarmo, participated in the city's mayoral election, which fielded three candidate pairs. A number of quick counts, as of Wednesday evening, revealed that the two candidates were racing neck and neck against each other for the top position with a margin of less than 10 percent between them.
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