The Jakarta Post
Having been threatened with postponement, the Surabaya mayoral election is back on track, with two official candidate pairs stating their intention to pull no punches in one of the country's largest local elections this year.
Surabaya, the East Java provincial capital and the country's second-largest city, will hold its mayoral election on Dec. 9, along with 268 regional elections across the country.
The mayoral election was previously on the brink of being postponed until 2017 as a result of political parties' reluctance to field candidates to challenge the re-election bid of incumbent mayor Tri 'Risma' Rismaharini, who was endorsed by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) earlier this year.
But the competition is now set to go ahead as planned after the Surabaya General Elections Commission (KPUD) on Thursday officially approved the candidacy of the Rasiyo-Lucy Kurniasari tickets, which is supported by the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN).
On Friday, Risma, her running mate Wisnu Sakti Buana, Rasiyo and Lucy met for the first time at the KPUD headquarters as the official participants in the mayoral election for an election number draw.
According to the draw results, the KPUD announced that the Rasiyo-Lucy mayoral ticket would be listed as number '1' on ballots and the Risma-Wisnu ticket as number '2'.
Speaking after the event, Rasiyo, a former East Java provincial secretary, expressed his desire to beat Risma in a 'dignified and democratic' manner.
Rasiyo, a close aide to East Java Governor Soekarwo, who is also the Democratic Party's East Java chapter chief, added that he would offer development programs to empower marginalized people in an attempt to oust Risma from office.
'I will develop Surabaya by developing marginalized districts. I believe the program will win the support of Surabayans,' he told The Jakarta Post.
Separately, Risma said the city's next leadership must improve Surabaya's presence in the international community.
'Whatever the result, the election will decide the fate of the people of Surabaya in the future. Surabaya has to develop further,' she said.
With 2.1 million registered voters, the Surabaya mayoral election will be the largest election at the municipal and regency levels this year.
Risma, who was first elected mayor of Surabaya in 2010, is regarded as the frontrunner for the upcoming mayoral election following her success in transforming the provincial capital's state of neglect into a city with many first-class public parks. Risma, however, must step down early, as her leadership term will end on Sept. 28.
The existing laws stipulate that a local election must be postponed until 2017 should the election organizer fail to gather participation from at least two candidate pairs. The Surabaya KPUD extended the mayoral registration three times to allow political parties to register candidates to challenge Risma's nomination.
Political observer Fahrul Muzaqqi of Surabaya-based Airlangga University's School of Social and Political Sciences said that despite Risma's electability, the Rasiyo-Lucy pair had a chance to beat the incumbent.
'To win the election, the Rasiyo-Lucy pair will have to strive to win votes from people in the golput [abstainers] category,' he said.