Solo Mayor and Jakarta governor hopeful Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has pulled ahead of incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo according to preliminary election results released by two polling agencies.
Jokowi took the lead in the race with 43 percent of the votes, according to a quick count by private pollster Indonesia Survey Circle.
Fauzi trailed behind with 34 percent of the votes, according to the pollsters count.
Unofficial counts conducted by Puskaptis and produced similar results.
With neither of the leading candidates winning more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will likely decide the winner.
Fauzi’s camp assured supporters that the race wasn’t over. The incumbent said he was betting on the second round.
Opinion polls predicted the contest would be a two-man race between Jokowi and Fauzi.
The incumbent is backed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s ruling Democratic Party.
Jokowi is supported by the party of Prabowo Subianto, a strong contender for the 2014 presidential race, and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Alex Noerdin, the candidate backed by tycoon and 2014 presidential hopeful Aburizal Bakrie’s Golkar Party, came fifth with only 4.4 percent voters garnered, the Indonesia Survey Circle quick count showed.
“This is… a test case arena for political parties ahead of 2014, whether their political machine is working,” said Abdullah Dahlan from the political corruption division of Indonesia Corruption Watch.
Fauzi’s challengers have complained that voter lists are flawed, an issue that many worry could be a significant factor in the 2014 presidential polls.
“The voter registration issue is a chronic problem all over Indonesia because there is no agency that can accurately list the names of the voters,” said Jakarta-based analyst Achmad Sukarsono of the International Crisis Group.
Some voters complained of difficulty casting their vote. Yovita Sutanto said an organizer asked her to pay cash for cigarettes in exchange for her voting card.
“It is not a matter of the cigarettes because I could afford it,” she told Reuters. “It just amazes me how the bureaucracy here expects money for the work they are expected to do.”
Southeast Asia’s most populous city — where modern skyscrapers often rise above slums and shantytowns without piped water — is weighed down by corruption, and a bare-bones public transportation system.
At least 1,000 new vehicles are added every day to about eight million already on the roads, where street children and beggars knock on the windows of cars that barely-move during rush hour.
According to the private Indonesian Transportation Society, traffic in the capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country is destined to turn into a massive gridlock by 2014.
Most people in the capital — whose official 10 million population doubles with migrant workers on weekdays — get around in jam-packed buses.
Voters, enjoying a public holiday declared for the election, said they hoped the incoming governor would help solve some of their most pressing problems during his five-year term.
“I’m going to vote for Joko because I want to see changes,” parking attendant Supriyatna, 35, told AFP.
“Bowo promised an MRT [city railway network], no flooding, no jams. There’s still no MRT, I still walk around in knee-deep floods whenever it rains. I’m always late for work because of the traffic. These must stop.”
Official election results are expected next week.
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