Jakarta’s municipal election, a test of Muslim-Christian relations, goes to a runoff

Source: LA Times

After a tense campaign marred by religious protests and phone-tapping allegations made by a former president, Indonesia’s capital will have to wait two more months to learn who will run the city of 10 million people.

Incumbent Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as “Ahok,” will face a runoff election in April against a former education minister who was backed by Islamist protesters, turning the election into a test of religious tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent and an ally of President Joko Widodo, won about 40% of the votes cast in Wednesday’s municipal election, according to unofficial results. That was roughly the same as his rival, Anies Basdewan, a Muslim whose reformist credentials came under scrutiny when Islamist supporters sought to have the sitting governor jailed over a speech in which he purportedly insulted Islam.

The vote was widely seen as a preview of Widodo’s 2019 reelection chances and a test of how Indonesia’s Muslims, who make up nearly 90% of Indonesia’s population, regard ethnic and religious minorities in positions of authority.

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