Voters in Indonesian Capital Choose Governor

Residents of the Indonesian capital are heading to the polls to elect a local governor, in a runoff election between a moderate and a hard-line conservative.

Wednesday’s poll pits ethnic Chinese and Christian incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama against former cabinet minister Anies Baswedan, who has sought support from conservative clerics opposed to non-Muslims in public office.

Analysts have consistently described a tight race, and opinion polls show the likelihood of a close outcome Wednesday in Jakarta.

The two candidates finished atop a three-way vote in February that capped a campaign marked by violence and protests. However, neither candidate cleared the required 50 percent threshold, triggering Wednesday’s vote.

Since February, antipathy stoked by the campaign has been largely relegated to internet commentary, with Baswedan supporters describing Purnama as a “heathen” unworthy of holding public office.

For his part, Purnama has pushed to curtail corruption and improve the quality of life, in a campaign largely aimed at Jakarta’s middle class. He is currently on trial in the capital, accused of blasphemy. A court verdict has been delayed until the day after the runoff vote is tallied.

Purnama assumed the post of Jakarta governor in 2014 from current President Joko Widodo.  A victory Wednesday would make him the first non-Muslim governor in the city’s history.

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