President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and First Lady Iriana cast their ballots in Gambir, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday, in a tense gubernatorial election that appears to have divided the nation.
The President arrived at the polling station at 10.40 a.m., along with dozens of other Jakartans, to elect the Jakarta governor for the next five years.
After casting his vote, Jokowi said he was optimistic the election would run smoothly. "I am sure this election will produce the best leader for Jakarta. Whatever the result and whoever is elected it needs to be accepted by all," Jokowi told reporters.
Two candidates—Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and former education and culture minister Anies Baswedan—face off in the second round of the city’s gubernatorial race.
Ahok was Jokowi’s deputy when Jokowi was Jakarta governor and is backed by most members of Jokowi’s ruling coalition. Anies, meanwhile, is backed by the opposition parties.
Analysts have said the Jakarta election is a prelude to the 2019 presidential election where Jokowi will likely face off against his former rival from the 2014 election: Prabowo Subianto, the Gerindra Party leader, who is backing Anies.
The election has also been seen as a battleground between conservative and liberal forces in the country, with the latter pinning their hopes on Ahok, the first Christian to lead the capital in more than two decades. Anies has long been known as a moderate and progressive Muslim, but his campaign team seems to have capitalized on the rising religious sentiment against Ahok.
The President said Jakartans must unite and cast aside their differences after voting day. "Don't let differences in politics divide us because we are all brothers,” he said.
Jokowi and Iriana returned directly to the State Palace after casting their ballots. (ary)