Elections in Jakarta: A Local Poll with National Significance

Publication Date: 
12 Jul 2012

On July 11, 2012, voters in Jakarta, Indonesia, cast their ballots for the capital city's next governor. This governorship is considered one of the most important directly-elected positions in the country since Jakarta is seen as a leader in economic growth and development for the rest of the nation.

Operations Coordinator Meredith Applegate answers some questions on Election Day.

How was the mood on Election Day?

There has been a significant amount of media coverage and general interest in these elections. Some political analysts here believe the election will be very close. There has been some tension as the campaign period heated up and issues with the voter list became more controversial. However, Election Day itself was calm, with little incident so far.

Elections in Jakarta were originally scheduled for August 2012, but were moved to July 11, 2012 to accommodate Ramadan. There are six candidate pairs contesting the Jakarta Gubernatorial Election. Four candidate pairs are supported by political parties and two candidate pairs are independent.

As the country's capital, Jakarta is a special region under the law. Under this law, a candidate must achieve an absolute majority, more than 50 percent, to win the election. Quick counts conducted today indicate that the election was close, and that a second round will be necessary.

Who was eligible to vote in this election?

Voters must be on the voter list at the specified polling station and should have received an invitation with an attached voter card approximately three days before the election. Residents of Jakarta who are at least 17 on Election Day or married were eligible to vote as long as they show their voter card and appear on the voter list at the specified polling station.

How was turnout?

At this point, it is too early to determine Election Day turnout. Due to conflicts regarding the voter list, it is also possible the official turnout will be disputed. Quick counts completed by local survey firms here estimate turnout at approximately 64%.

What exactly were the issues with the voter list?

The voter list for the Jakarta election received considerable media attention and criticism from both candidates and local organizations. After the release of the preliminary voter list of 7,044,991 voters, these groups argued that the list contained irregularities, including an excess of "ghost" voters, or voters who appear on the list but are not technically eligible to vote.

The Jokowi-Basuki campaign team claimed to have found at least 900,000 ineligible voters. Political parties and local organizations also claimed to have found irregularities in the verification process, which they assert resulted in approximately 900,000 to 1,400,000 ineligible voters in the preliminary list.

After receiving this criticism, the Jakarta Election Commission (Jakarta KPU) delayed and reissued the announcement of the final voter list. In early June, the election commission formally announced the final voter list containing a total of 6,983,692 eligible voters, having removed 61,299 voters from the list.

Excluding the incumbent, all five pairs of gubernatorial candidates rejected the final voter list.

Were any actions taken by candidates or electoral management regarding the voter list?

On June 18, a coalition of three political party gubernatorial candidates filed a suit to the Jakarta Police, alleging the Jakarta KPU was committing forgery and modifying civil administration data.

The filing of a criminal complaint directly to the police against electoral management is fairly unprecedented in Indonesia, and inconsistent with the electoral dispute process. The police, therefore, handed over the complaint to the Provincial Election Supervisory Committee, which, along with the Election Implementers Honorary Council, had also received complaints from these campaign teams. Some candidate teams were demanding the election be delayed until these allegations were resolved.

Last weekend, the Honorary Council stated that the Jakarta KPU must revise the list prior to Election Day. Less than 48 hours before polling on Wednesday, the election commission announced it had removed another 21,344 ineligible voters from the previous list of 6,983,692. As a result, the Jakarta KPU said people would be allowed to vote if they had a voter card or invitation and appeared on either the preliminary or final voter list.

The coalition of campaign teams has stated that they did not believe that the Jakarta KPU has fully addressed their grievances with the list.

When will results be announced?

Results will likely be announced in approximately 10 days, after results are compiled at the provincial level. Recapitulation of votes begins at the kelurahan (village) level rather than the kecamatan (district) level, as has been practiced during previous elections. This means results might take longer to reach the provincial level.

Quick counts indicate that there will be a second round election between Fauzi Bowo and Joko Widodo; however, this will not be confirmed until the final results are announced. If necessary, second round elections will take place around September 20, 2012.

When will the winner take office?

The end of the term for the current governor is in October 2012 so the winner, barring extreme delay caused by election disputes, should be sworn in around that time.

How was accessibility for voters with disabilities?

Access for voters with disabilities to the electoral process continues to be a struggle, not only in Indonesia, but across Southeast Asia. The IFES-facilitated General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) organized an observation across Jakarta to gauge accessibility for voters with disabilities. The organizations in the AGENDA network paired an observer with a disability with an observer from a larger domestic observation network to monitor the polls.

The AGENDA team went to polling stations in Jakarta known to have voters with disabilities. Their preliminary observations indicated that less than a third of the polling stations they visited were accessible to people with varying forms of disabilities.

Some of the general issues facing voters in Indonesia include: lack of a level surface and access ramp for wheelchair users and room to wheel their chair to the polling booth; the occasional lack of a Braille template for voters with visual disabilities; and a lack of training for poll workers on the rights of voters with intellectual disabilities.

How was the campaign period?

Only two political parties have more than 15 seats in the Jakarta legislature and, therefore, legally had the right to propose a candidate for this election. However, other parties formed coalitions in order to reach the legal threshold to propose a candidate. The 20 political parties that formed a coalition in 2007 to oppose the candidate for governor from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) split and shifted support to other candidates. All candidate pairs delivered their vision and mission statements in front of the Jakarta House of Representatives on Sunday, June 24, 2012, to begin the campaign period.

While political rallies, campaign slogans and election materials dominated the city from late June until July 7, 2012, the campaign period was generally peaceful. From July 7 until Election Day, there was a quiet week in Jakarta during which no campaigning was allowed.