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Jakarta Votes for Governor for First Time


Polls have closed in a historic election today in Jakarta, in which voters were able to choose their own governor for the first time. But analysts predicted only a third of eligible voters might show up, due to a flawed registration process and dissatisfaction with the nominees. Trish Anderton reports from Jakarta.

Citizens across greater Jakarta had two candidates to choose between on Wednesday. Fauzi Bowo, the current vice-governor, and Adang Daradjatun, a former police official. Despite frequent neighborhood rallies and a heavy blanketing of banners and posters, many citizens are cool to both candidates.

Saiful Mujani heads the Indonesian Survey Institute, a polling group. He says that as part of the current government, Fauzi Bowo is handicapped, because the administration is perceived as failing on important issues like traffic, unemployment and flooding.

Some voters are also wary of Adang because his party, the Justice and Prosperity Party, is identified with conservative Islam. The party insists it will not push for sharia law in Jakarta, but University of Indonesia economist Faisal Basri says many voters remain uneasy.

"The majority of Indonesia does not want sharia law," he said. "What we want is the law for all people of Indonesia.

Faisal failed in his own effort to get on the ballot. He says these two candidates emerged from a flawed nomination process ruled by money and party politics. He argues that process must change to give voters a wider range of choices.

"It is very bad for democracy because there will be no kind of fresh room for good people to run, and more and more concentration in political parties because of the role of money," he said.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court recently ruled that independent candidates must be allowed to run in local elections, but the ruling came too late for this race.

More than 11,000 polling stations were open across Jakarta for six hours until early afternoon. The city declared a public holiday to make it easier for about 5.7 million registered voters to get to the polls.

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