According to unofficial “quick counts”, Ahmad Heryawan and Dede Yusuf have pulled off an unexpected victory in Sunday’s West Java gubernatorial election.
Most observers gave Ahmad and Dede, nominated by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN), little chance against their better funded opponents from major parties.
According to so-called quick counts conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), Kompas daily, the Center for Public Policy and Development Studies and the Voter Education for People Network, Ahmad and Dede won the vote in the country’s most densely populated province.
LSI’s quick count, with a multistage random sampling conducted at 400 polling stations across the province, has Ahmad and Dede winning almost 40 percent of the vote.
Two other candidates, Agum Gumelar and Danny Setiawan, received 34.23 percent and 26 percent of the vote respectively, according to the LSI count.
Similar results were reported by the three other institutions conducting quick counts.
Incumbent Governor Danny and running mate Iwan Sulandjana were nominated by Golkar Party and the Democratic Party (PD). Agum and his running mate, Nu’man Abdul Hakim, were nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).
According to unofficial data from the provincial chapter of the General Elections Commission (KPUD), of more than 144,000 ballots that reached the commission on Sunday, 38.6 percent were for Ahmad, 34.4 percent for Agum and 26.8 percent for Danny.
“If these results hold up, it would be quite surprising and not at all what had been predicted. It’s strange but shows the people’s dissatisfaction with the incumbent governor,” said Widi Aswidi, head of the LSI’s elections division.
He said the quick count showed Ahmad and Dede dominating in Bandung, Garut, Bekasi, Bogor and Depok, the last three being regencies that border with Jakarta and PKS strongholds.
“The incumbent governor is less popular in the province, with its population of almost 42 million, and those living in the border areas are more familiar with Ahmad and Dede, both Jakarta residents,” he said.
Of 27.9 million eligible voters in West Java, 64.7 percent cast ballots Sunday.
Ahmad and Dede, or the so-called Hade pair, were unfancied by most observers heading into the election. They were nominated by two relatively small parties that lacked the political and financial clout of Golkar and the PDI-P.
The Prosperous Justice Party and National Mandate Party control just about 20 percent of seats in the local legislative councils in the province.
There were no reports of violence or disturbances during the voting.
Observers are attributing the relatively low voter turnout to general apathy among residents and the candidates’ failure to convince voters they could offer anything to improve their lives.
In the meantime, the KPUD has reminded the public that the quick count results are not official and might look different from the final results announced by the poll body.
“The quick counts are not official. They are based on a multistage sampling. The public should not be trapped into accepting the results as official. The final results will be available in several days, while the winner will be officially announced April 20,” said KPUD member Ferry Kurnia Rizkiansyah.
If the results do hold up, it would be a major rebuke to Golkar and the Democratic Party, and a blow to PDI-P, which had been talking about a sweep of the gubernatorial races in Java heading into the 2009 legislative and presidential elections.