Reports Wednesday evening showed Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, knicknamed Ahok, has lost a bid to remain in office, as voters turned to his Muslim opponent, Anies Baswedan.
As a Christian, Ahok faced pressure from Muslim activists during the campaign, some of whom insisted his candidacy was illegitimate, citing verses from the Koran. Ahok’s rejection of the claim has led to blasphemy charges and court proceedings.
Despite enjoying a high satisfaction rate for his performance in office as governor, Ahok receieved only 42% of the vote to his Muslim opponent and former education minister Baswedan’s 58%. Mass rallies held by Islamist activists have called into question Indonesia’s reputation as a home to a more moderate form of Islam.
Baswedan’s unexpectedly huge margin of victory also raises the specter of strong opposition to Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo. Ahok was backed by Widodow’s ruling party, while Baswedan is supported by Prabowo Subiant who lost a presidential bid by a narrow margin in 2014. Prabowo is expected to challenge Widodo again in 2019.