If the Jakarta gubernatorial election had been held according to the Regional Elections Law, we would have had a new governor today. At least, according to the quick count carried out by all the polling organizations. The results immediately following last Wednesday's vote were a surprise. The candidate who led at the start, the incumbent Fauzi Bowo, was relegated to second place.
Given that the capital is a special region, the conditions to become governor are also special. A candidate can only be declared the winner if he or she garners more than half the votes cast. Therefore, although Joko Widodo, alias Jokowi, won more than 40 percent of the votes, he must contest a second round, scheduled for September 20.
Leaving aside the counting, we should give the people of Jakarta a thumbs-up. In the midst of 'dawn raids' from several candidates, people's votes were, in general, not affected. Although there were systematic efforts from one candidate to direct voters, they were not diverted. Several exit polls and studies on the ground showed that most people voted in line with their conscience. This is good news. Although some accepted groceries or money-filled envelopes, they voted according to their conscience.
It is not often that an incumbent is defeated in an election. According to a few political theories, there is a beneficial margin of at least 10 percent for officials defending their positions at the ballot box. They resort to various maneuvers, taking advantage of opportunities and political power, especially the bureaucracy they still control. Development programs and media publicity usually favor the incumbent.
This seemed to be proven in the two weeks leading up to the election, as most opinion polls placed Fauzi Bowo in the lead. Some surveys even predicted that Fauzi and running mate Nachrowi Ramli would win outright in the first round. They were proven wrong. All the predictions were upset by Jokowi's big lead. Fauzi's defeat is a sign that Jakartans want to send a special message to the political elite of this nation. They demand change!
In the campaigning over the last two months, Jokowi portrayed himself as a man who understands the capital city's problems. He has offered solutions to the flooding, traffic congestion and poverty in the city by speaking in a way that is simple and easy to understand. In so doing, he reached the hearts and minds of the people. He has been everywhere, as if representing the ordinary people. His plain-speaking style and his sympathy for the poor have attracted considerable support.
Jokowi has not only given speeches. His track record as mayor of Solo is open to all. Although he is not without flaws, everybody can see his past policies as a public official: reluctance to draw a salary, implementation of one-day processing for ID cards and convincing traders in informal markets to be more honest with customers.
One imperfection of the candidate proposed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is related to the initial candidacy process in March. At that time, there were frequent reports that his candidacy was funded in full by the PDI-P's coalition partner, the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party. Gerindra Advisory Board Chairman Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto played a significant role in pairing Jokowi with former East Belitung Regent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, alias Ahok. And Prabowo pushed PDI-P chair Megawati Soekarnoputri to nominate Jokowi.
Therefore, the people hope that if he is elected, Jokowi will be able to serve their interests. Political debts owed to patrons and donors must not dictate the policies of Jakarta's governor. The people voted for Jokowi, not the people behind him, no matter who they are.
At the end of this week, the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU) will officially announce the results of the first-round election. If it is in line with predictions, in two months' time, Jakartans will return to the polling booths. If Fauzi Bowo and Jokowi want to win, they must not ignore the vote for change that comes loud and clear from the capital city.
No. 47/12, July 17, 2012