Former Indonesia Education Minister Wins Jakarta Election

Former Indonesian education minister Anies Baswedan won the election for governor of Jakarta on April 19.

Pollster Indikator Politik measured that Baswedan received 58 percent of votes, in comparison to incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who received 42 percent. Indonesia’s National Elections Commission will officially announce the results in May, and Baswedan will assume office in October.

The election has been highly contentious and polarizing because Baswedan is Muslim, and many hardline Islamists rallied against Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent. Indonesia is 80 percent Muslim.

Purnama was elected governor of Jakarta in 2014, replacing current President Joko Widodo. He was popular with the middle-class for attempting to rid the city of corruption and deal with pollution. However, he was unpopular with many for his eviction of “slum communities” and “brash manner.”

He lost support when a video disseminated by his opponents last September suggested he had mocked a verse of the Qur’an. He appeared several times in court after being charged with blasphemy.

Many saw Baswedan as a moderate, and he was heavily criticized when he began to stand with anti-Purnama leaders. Baswedan said he will not institute Sharia law if elected.

Baswedan claims that his platform will focus on bettering public education, allowing low-income people to receive no-deposit home loans, and opposing a giant seawall in Jakarta Bay that was supported by Purnama.

The next presidential election will take place in 2019. During the election, Purnama was supported by Widodo, while Baswedan was supported by retired general Prabowo Subianto.

Purnama won the three-way race in February: he received 43 percent of votes, while Baswedan received 40 percent, and son of former president Susilo Bambang Agus Yudhoyono received 17 percent. Polls suggested that the election would be close.

Police deployed around 66,000 officers to ensure the security of the election. Police reported that 15 people had been detained at several polling stations.