Although foreigners in Jakarta have no voting rights, many of them, having lived in the city for a number of years, have strong opinions about how the Jakarta leader should govern and improve the capital. Not to mention the exhausting campaign period over the past several months, which has sharpened sectarian sentiment.
For Nicole Curby, an Australian who has lived in Jakarta for the past year, religious issues have shifted the attention of voters away from those that should be prioritized.
“It was quite disappointing to see how election campaign has been derailed by the blasphemy case against Ahok, while in fact, there are a lot of issues that need more attention, including infrastructure and wealth inequality,” Nicole told The Jakarta Post.
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is seeking reelection in what many consider the most intense election in the capital’s recent history. In the midst of a blasphemy allegation, that has put the incumbent in the defendant stand, various surveys have shown Ahok in second place, by a thin margin, behind his rival Anies Baswedan.
Brian Kraft, an American who works as a government relations consultant in Jakarta, said the media had also played a role in shifting the public’s focus to the blasphemy trial by giving a large portion of coverage to the anti-Ahok protests, which, according to him, was very political.
It was important, Brian said, that the winning candidate make their priority improving Jakarta once elected.