Jakarta’s Voters See Through Chicanery, Wants Change

By webadmin on 08:52 am Sep 21, 2012
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Analysis | Pitan Daslani

Shortly after the quick count tabulations confirmed Joko Widodo as the winner in Thursday’s gubernatorial election, Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party concluded that ethnic and religious slurs — commonly known as SARA — are no longer effective in the increasingly educated and well-informed society of Indonesia.

Prabowo believes that if SARA issues had worked on Jakarta voters, they would have voted against Joko (Jokowi) and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) because the latter is a Christian with an ethnic Chinese background.

The campaign periods were fraught with intimidation and instances of the Fauzi Bowo camp reportedly persuading people not to vote for Jokowi due to Ahok’s background, and the fact that Jokowi is not a resident of the capital city.

There were reports that sermons, remarks, pamphlets, and banners urging voters to shun the Jokowi-Ahok ticket were rampant, but Jakarta voters refused to buy into such arguments.

Even at polling stations in the areas that were once perceived as the strongest bases for Fauzi Bowo and Nachrowi Ramli, many voters opted for Jokowi and Ahok. This indicates that even Betawi natives, who traditionally should have supported their ethnic compatriots, can no longer be expected to follow the primordial dictates of political parties.

The biggest irony in this election is that the largest portion of Jakarta’s population no longer trusts political parties.

The ruling Democrat Party set up a coalition with other major parties in order to boost Fauzi’ chances in the election. Jokowi and Ahok were supported by Great Indonesia Movement Party and Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle.

The bigger coalition believed that voters would automatically follow, but they were wrong. Voters seemed to only care about the cleanliness of a public figure’s track record.

Apart from Jokowi’s charisma and humility, to which many voters were able to associate themselves, most Jakarta residents voted for this pair because they wanted to get rid of the incumbent whose leadership has failed.

One outstanding characteristic of the metropolitan population is that it wants things changed for the better, day by day, and the local government must be able to deliver.

That is where Fauzi apparently failed.

Some people opted for Jokowi and Ahok simply because they were not willing to give Fauzi another five-year mandate. They were not willing to see the problems of Jakarta continue to get worse. The list of problems includes traffic jams, floods, pollution and degradation of environment, poverty, rising unemployment and crime rates, and unrest arising from social-economic woes.

Because of these very issues, the euphoria over Jokowi’s victory might be short-lived. Most of those problems gripping the capital city are the result of bad policies of the central government, and disagreements between Jakarta’s administration and the governments of neighboring cities. That being the case, no human being sitting in the chair of the Jakarta governor can solve the problems by relying solely on his own efforts.

Jakarta residents’ loyalty to Jokowi could turn into criticism if Jokowi and Ahok cannot deliver fast enough to match society’s impatience for change. That is why Jokowi and Ahok refused to celebrate their victory. They need to find a way to turn their many promises into reality.