In Aceh Party Victory, Some See Intimidation, Others Good Politics
Banda Aceh. The ruling Aceh Party is expected to win the gubernatorial, mayoral and district head polls due to the party’s strong structure of command right down to the village level, analysts said on Tuesday.
But an electoral official said the convincing result followed widespread intimidation of voters as they cast their ballots on Monday. Quick counts from two survey institutes soon confirmed that Aceh Party candidates secured clear victories.
According to a quick count from the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI), Zaini Abdullah and his running mate, Muzakir Manaf, who are backed by the Aceh Party, had received 54 percent of the vote while the incumbent governor, Irwandi Yusuf, and his running mate, Muhyan Yunan, were a distant second with 29 percent.
In third place was the former deputy governor, Muhammad Nazar, and Nova Iriansyah with 8 percent of the vote.
Teuku Ardiansyah, a security analyst from the Katahati Institute, said that Zaini and Muzakir benefitted from the support of the Aceh Party, which was established by former guerrillas of the now-outlawed Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Zaini is a former foreign minister of the GAM government in exile, while Muzakir was its former top military commander.
“They have a clear chain of command right down to the village level. The party members work together to promote their candidates even in remote areas. The other candidates just didn’t have as good a campaigning method,” Teuku told the Jakarta Globe in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.
Commenting on the quick count results, Muzakir said the Aceh Party’s candidates should have received more votes.
“I told the press earlier that we would get 80 percent of the votes. So, the results are far from what we expected,” he told the Globe.
Muzakir said that according to the Aceh Party’s quick count, the party’s 17 candidates for mayors and district heads have all won their races.
Separately, Aceh Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) chairman Nyak Arief Fadhillah Syah said that the Aceh Party intimidated voters in almost all regions, coercing them to vote for the party’s candidates.
“They threatened votes away from other candidates and stood near the ballot boxes to make sure residents voted for their own candidates,” he said.
Nyak Arief said in former GAM strongholds such as Pidie, Pidie Jaya, North Aceh, Lhokseumawe, East Aceh, Bireuen and Langsa, the intimidation was very blatant.
“We have reports of intimidation from almost all areas. In Pidie, for instance, a polling station official cast his vote three times. We are still gathering more evidence to support our claims that the scale of intimidation was massive,” he said.
Muzakir said that he would welcome other candidates reporting any allegations to the Constitutional Court, a body authorized to review election results.
“We are ready. Even if we have to repeat the election, we are ready,” he said.
Monday marked the second set of simultaneous elections in Aceh, following ballots in 2007 that came after the 2005 peace pact signed by GAM and the Indonesian government.