16 February 2017

Did Sectarian Politics Win in Jakarta? Only the Runoff Will Tell

This week’s bitterly contested election for governor of Jakarta — pitting a Christian incumbent charged with blaspheming Islam against two rivals who emphasized their Muslim faith — was widely seen as a test of whether Indonesia’s young democracy could resist the pull of sectarian politics.

Whether it passed that test is still an open question.

The capital’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian known as Ahok, finished first in Wednesday’s balloting, with about 43 percent of the vote, according to unofficial estimates from independent polling agencies.

But his poll numbers were substantially higher before October, when his political opponents accused him of blasphemy. And because Mr. Basuki did not win a majority of the vote, he will face the second-place finisher, Anies Baswedan, in an April runoff. [The New York Times] Read more