Black campaigns, hate speech and hoaxes appear to have little influence on Jakarta residents’ voting preferences, because most of them are educated and able to think rationally, according to a political scientist.
“There’s nothing to worry about, because Jakarta’s residents are relatively well-educated. As I have observed, they are rational voters. In the parts of the city such as Petamburan, where anti-Ahok [incumbent Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama] campaigns spurred, Ahok-Djarot [Saiful Hidayat] won the vote,” dean of Gadjah Mada University’s Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Erwan Purwanto told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (15/02).
Petamburan houses the headquarters of the Islamic Defenders Font (FPI), which had been actively campaigning against Ahok, whom its members accuse of blasphemy.
Such places seemed to promise no victory for the pair, but the opposite had happened.
BeritaSatu reported that Ahok-Djarot won by 278 votes at Petamburan polling station number 017, located just 100 meters from the FPI headquarters. During the quick-count session, people booed each time Ahok-Djarot’s name came up, yet the pair still won.
Erwan also said voters in Pramuka Island in Jakarta’s Thousand Islands district, where Ahok had allegedly committed blasphemy, were not affected by Ahok’s ongoing blasphemy trial. As reported by Antara, Ahok-Djarot came second in Pramuka Island, with 413 votes, not a significant loss to Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno who bagged 446 votes.
“This shows that the recent tensions only revolved around the political elites. Moreover, those who participated in anti-Ahok rallies might not be all from Jakarta,” Erwan added.
He said that Indonesian society is getting used to hoaxes and hate speech, which had been filling the internet since the 2014 presidential election.
“I think the society is experiencing a change. It was ‘tested’ during the last presidential election. The gubernatorial race resembled the polarization that happened back then. This means that hoaxes are nothing new and [voters] are getting used to having them around.”
Erwan added that people are getting more capable of evaluating information and distinguish facts from fiction.
“From what I observe, by the next presidential election in 2019, the society will be more open minded and accustomed to debating freely on social media. The more hoaxes appear, the more people learn to filter them,” he said.
According to Erwan, one of the reasons Wednesday’s election was successful was the absence of suspicious pollsters. Back in 2014, pollsters published contradictory quick count results, raising suspicions that some of them might have endorsed one of the candidates.