Jakarta Officials Predict Peaceful Polling, Despite Campaign Tensions

By webadmin on 08:54 am Sep 20, 2012
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Viriya Paramita, Arientha Primanita & Firdha Novialita

Officials and experts have reiterated that today’s runoff vote in the Jakarta gubernatorial election will proceed peacefully, amid concerns about possible rioting linked to the high-stakes poll.

Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, the head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said on Wednesday that there were no indications of looming unrest, and added that he was certain the balloting would go smoothly.

“I’m confident that all the steps necessary to hold a peaceful and safe election have been taken,” he said.

“So far all the intelligence reports on the issue have been positive.”

He added that the violence frequently sparked by supporters of losing candidates in regional elections would not occur in Jakarta because voters in the capital were on average better educated and more politically mature.

“Jakartans are better prepared mentally for this kind of thing,” Marciano said.

Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, also expressed his confidence in the Jakarta voters and said he hoped for a large turnout to give the final results greater legitimacy.

He acknowledged that religious and ethnic slurs targeted against the ticket of Joko Widodo and his ethnic-Chinese Christian running mate, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, had prompted concerns about anti-Chinese or anti-Christian intimidation or violence.

However, Djoko said he believed the voters were smart enough not to be provoked by the smear campaign.

He also called on the candidates and their supporters to help maintain the peace, no matter the outcome at the ballot box.

Ari Dwipayana, a political expert from Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, agreed that the potential for violence was small, saying that both candidates could be expected to reign in their fringe supporters.

“I don’t believe there’s much chance of violence, unless the team that’s been behind the religious and ethnic slurs all along actually tries to incite violence,” he said.

He also called on both candidates to quickly reconcile once the results were out, to heal any social rifts caused by the hostility on display during the campaigning.

Jeirry Sumampouw, coordinator of the Indonesian Voters Committee (Tepi), also played down the possibility of violence breaking out over the polls.

“What’s more likely is a protest or complaint, which is bound to come up because there are always those who are unsatisfied with the outcome,” he said.

He also called on voters to cast their vote, even if they had not yet received the formal invitations from urban ward offices. He said residents could still vote, as long as they presented a valid Jakarta ID issued by the ward office where they intended to cast their ballot.