(Reuters) - Indonesians will vote on Wednesday in regional elections in more than 100 provinces, cities, and districts, with the contest for the powerful post of Jakarta governor turning into one of the more divisive political battles in the country’s democratic era.
The race to lead the city of more than 10 million is being fought by three candidates - an ethnic Chinese Christian and two Muslims - and has triggered mass protests and stirred religious and political tensions in the world’s third-largest democracy.
BASUKI TJAHAJA PURNAMA, KNOWN AS “AHOK”
The incumbent governor took over running Jakarta in 2014 when his then boss, Joko Widodo, won the presidency.
Purnama, 50, is the city’s first ethnic Chinese and Christian leader, and has angered some Muslim voters for allegedly insulting the Koran. He has denied wrongdoing, but is on trial for blasphemy in a case that some view as politically motivated.
He is backed by the country’s ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Purnama’s popular policies include a commitment to tackling chronic flooding and traffic in the city and improving the bureaucracy.
He is the oldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and retired from the military at 38 to run for the governorship.
He is backed by the Democrat Party and some Islamic parties.
Yuhoyono’s campaign has focused on improving the lives of Jakarta’s poor and he has promised cash handouts to low-income families.
Baswedan, 47, was the former education minister in President Widodo’s government.
He is supported by Gerindra, a party headed by failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.
Baswedan’s campaign has focused on improving public education and combating the rising costs of food and living.
Official results are expected to be announced March 8-10.
If no candidates achieves a majority in the first round, a runoff is expected in May between the two candidates securing the most votes.
Defeated candidates can dispute the results in the Constitutional Court.
If incumbent governor Purnama wins the Jakarta election but is convicted of blasphemy, he is legally allowed to assume office as long as the appeals process is ongoing.
7.1 million people are registered to vote in Jakarta.
Elections will be held for governors, mayors and regents in 101 regions throughout the country.
Seven provinces, including Jakarta, will choose a governor and there will 18 city elections and 76 district elections.
Reporting by Ben Weir; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Bill Tarrant