Indonesian capital electing governor as tensions rise

More galling is the loss of Jakarta itself.

An Indonesian woman holds a paper after casting her ballot during an election for Jakarta's governor in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 15, 2017.

Jakarta has towering influence on national politics as both the capital and financial center, contributing almost 15 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product.

Official results won't be known for about two weeks but a number of quick counts will begin after voting closes at 1 p.m. local time.

If Ahok is found guilty of blasphemy the ruling has the potential of galvanising radical Islam and deal a setback for moderate Islam, which has traditionally characterised Islamic practice in Indonesia.

"Anies aims to manage the city with no forced eviction policies". Yet none has triggered a massive movement against Ahok the way religion related issues has.

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The Jakarta election is being viewed as a test of religious tolerance in Muslim majority Indonesia. Nearly 60 per cent of Jakarta voters gave their votes to other pairs of candidates both during the first round in February as well as in yesterday's run-off, although various surveys prior to the election show that 70 per cent of Jakarta residents are satisfied with the way Ahok has managed the city. NU president Said Aqil Siradj condemned the political use and manipulation of religion by extremist groups.

Baswedan, who is supported by the opposition Gerindra Party and Prosperous Justice Party, called on voters to forget the differences of the campaign, which has seen Purnama put on trial over blasphemy allegations. His rival, Anies Baswedan received 40% of the vote while the third candidate Agus Haryamurti Yudhoyono, secured only 17%.

The official results of the election will be available next week. Several large events were organised by these two parties subsequently to encourage people to give their votes to Ahok and Djarot.

Purnama's critics assert that the Qur'an forbids Muslims to align themselves with Christians or Jews, basing their argument on a verse (Qur'an 5:51) that reads in part, "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies".

Yet this last minute support was not enough. They successfully run as a pair (with Ahok as deputy) for Jakarta governor in 2012. While this phenomenon may seem alarming and bears watching, one caveat is that Jakarta is not the main stronghold of PKB, PPP, GP Anshor or Nahdlatul Ulama.

Portraying himself as a victim of sectarian-motivated political attacks - despite a decades-old ban on such attacks in a country with significant Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities - Mr Basuki won the first round with 43 per cent of the vote. Indonesian stocks are up 12.6 per cent on the year, making the Jakarta market one of Asia's best performers. A win for them would have benefitted Jokowi and PDIP.

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Indonesian social media users likened the election outcome to the shock results of the USA presidential vote and the Brexit vote of a year ago. Some Muslim voters were told the Quran forbade them from voting for a non-Muslim, such as Ahok, Wilson said. PKS will certainly try to capitalise on this opportunity to revive its dominion in the Jakarta parliament.

If Baswedan and Uno win Jakarta, it can only help Prabowo.

Considered a spent force after his defeat in 2014, Prabowo now has a platform to raise money and increase his profile ahead of another tilt at the presidency in 2019, said Wimar Witoelar, a political analyst and former presidential spokesman.

Many observers will likely laud Anies' victory as one for populist, sectarian politics.

Supporters of Anies-Sandi can be seen filling-up the streets heading towards Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta sub-district.

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