The Jakarta Post
Next week’s Jakarta gubernatorial runoff might be one of the tightest races in the capital’s history, as incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is closing the gap between him and his rival, Anies Baswedan, with just 1 percentage point separating the two tickets in the latest opinion poll.
The survey, conducted between March 31 and April 5 by Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC), puts Anies as the frontrunner in the election, with 47.9 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for him.
However, Ahok trails closely behind, securing 46.9 percent, with the remaining 5.2 percent of the respondents still undecided.
Eight months ago, Ahok entered the race as a shoo-in for the capital’s top seat, with various polls showing no one could match his electability.
However, his popularity took a massive hit last November when the National Police declared him a suspect in a blasphemy case.
“The largest gap was in December, when Ahok only got 31.7 percent and Anies stood at 43.9 percent [in terms of electability]. Since then, Ahok is slowly narrowing the gap,” SMRC researcher Deni Irfani said during the launching of the survey on Wednesday, a week before the voting day.
While Ahok won the first round of the election with 42.96 percent of votes, Anies came in a close second place with 39.97 percent, with only 164,255 votes separating the two. The third candidate, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, meanwhile, came last with just 17.06 percent.
However, two surveys released after the first round showed that Anies had managed to secure most of Agus’ votes, leaving Ahok playing catch-up. A survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) from Feb. 27 to March 3, for instance, found that Anies had the highest electability with 49.7 percent, while Ahok’s electability stood at 40.5 percent.
Recently, however, Ahok narrowed the gap. According to SMRC data, support for Ahok increased by 3.1 percent, while backing for Anies decreased by 2.8 percent over the last month.
Ahok’s electability is expected to get another jolt after the final gubernatorial election debate on Wednesday night.
“Almost all Jakarta residents believe the debate between the candidates is important for them to decide which candidate would get their vote, so there is a high possibility that the number will change after tonight,” Deni said.
The survey also found that religious sentiment played an important role in pushing Anies toward his current frontrunner status, with 32.4 percent of his would-be voters citing a shared religion as the reason they would vote for him.
Anies, who had repeatedly argued that he would not play the religion card in the election, kicked off his runoff campaign by visiting the headquarters of prominent Muslim group Syarikat Islam.
Since then, he has made several visits to Islamic boarding schools and attended various mass prayers and Quran recital events.
On the other hand, proven track record is the strongest factor behind Ahok’s electability, with 41 percent of his voters citing that as the main reason for wanting the governor to retain his seat.
Ahok campaign team spokesman Maruarar Sirait said he was optimistic that Ahok and his running mate, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, could win the election based on the survey’s result.
“I’m glad that there are still a lot of people who can see Ahok’s good track record and leadership. This positive trend must continue. I’d be nervous if I was on Anies’ side now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anies campaign team member Riza Patria said he had no reason to be worried, because the survey clearly showed that people wanted a candidate who was trustworthy and had leadership qualities.
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