As Runoff Race Starts in Earnest, Fauzi and Joko Eye Undecided Voters

By webadmin on 12:23 pm Jul 13, 2012
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Ronna Nirmala & Ezra Sihite

Jakartans who did not cast a ballot in Wednesday’s first round of governor election voting and those who opted for candidates who have been eliminated will be the main focus of campaigning efforts ahead of September’s runoff poll, analysts say.

Unofficial survey data shows that about 35 percent of eligible voters stayed away from the polling booth on Wednesday, while 24 percent of voters cast a ballot for one of the four candidates eliminated from the race.

“During the first round political parties backed their candidates, but now the votes come down to just two options,” said Siti Zuhro, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Siti said several parties in the six-member national ruling coalition, which is led by the Democratic Party, would likely channel their support to incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo.

Fauzi, supported by the Democrats, garnered just 34 percent of the vote on Wednesday despite earlier survey forecasts that he would finish on top.

With support from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, garnered 42 percent of the vote.

No official results have been announced by the General Elections Commission (KPUD), so estimates of support come from exit polls conducted by survey firms.

The ruling national coalition includes the Democrats, the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Only Golkar and the PAN had candidates in the election: Alex Noerdin and Hidayat Nur Wahid, respectively. But Hidayat is a member of the PKS, which has had recent differences with the Democrats.

Siti predicted that Hidayat’s 12 percent of votes would likely be split between Fauzi and Joko.

Golkar leadership board chairman Hadjriyanto Thohari said his party was not interested in forming a partnership with either Fauzi or Joko in the runoff vote.

“Let Golkar cadres choose who they want,” he said, signaling that Alex’s 4.8 percent of the vote would not move as a bloc.

Siti said the two remaining candidates faced a battle to attract the 7 percent of voters who chose either of the independents, Faisal Basri and Hendardji Soepandji.

“These are the wild cards, because they are rational voters who want change. They could end up as non-voters,” she said. “But it all depends on Jokowi. If Jokowi can keep up [his campaign strategy] … then the likelihood that pro-change voters will side with Jokowi is high.”

Wednesday’s result came as a blow for the Democrats, given their candidate finished second. “The outcome came as a surprise for us, we weren’t expecting a runoff vote,” Democratic Party advisory council member Melani Leimena said.

Analysts and activists earlier predicted that the incumbent governor would have the upper hand, given his authority to direct city funds toward advertising to boast of achievements during his five-year term in office.

Jakarta elections have long been a crucial testing ground for political parties ahead of national ballots. Legislative and presidential elections are both scheduled for 2014.

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