Indonesian President Joko Widodo appears set for a second term with “quick count” results from the election pointing to a comfortable victory.
Despite the apparent win his challenger, former general Prabowo Subianto, claimed to have won the popular vote and urged supporters not to let his victory be snatched away.
Data from private pollsters based on counts of vote samples were in line with opinion polls that had predicted a win for Widodo, a former furniture businessman and low-key reformist.
They showed him winning the popular vote with about 54 per cent, with a lead of between 7.1 and 11.6 percentage points over Subianto, who was narrowly defeated when he ran against Widodo in the last election five years ago.
In previous elections, the so-called “quick counts” from reputable companies proved to be accurate.
But Prabowo, a former son-in-law of military strongman Suharto who was overthrown in 1998, told a news conference that, based on internal exit polls and “quick count” numbers, his campaign believed his share of the vote was in a 52-54 per cent range.
“We have noted several incidents that have harmed the supporters of this ticket,” he said on Wednesday, without giving detail. “The truth will win.”
In 2014, Prabowo had also claimed victory on election day before contesting the results at the Constitutional Court, which confirmed Widodo’s win.
Widodo said the results indicated he had regained the presidency of the world’s fourth-most-populous nation but urged supporters to wait for the election commission to announce official results.
Kevin O’Rourke, a political analyst and author of the Indonesia-focused newsletter Reformasi Weekly, said Widodo’s re-election was now clear but his victory over 67-year-old Prabowo was not resounding.
“He failed to attain the psychological 60 per cent level that had seemed within reach,” O’Rourke said. “Prabowo performed better than expected, which may embolden him to run yet again in 2024, if he is sufficiently fit.”
Widodo grew up in a riverside slum and was the first national leader to come from outside the political and military elite. Popularly known as Jokowi, his everyman image resonated in 2014 with voters tired of the old guard.
The eight-hour vote on Wednesday for both the presidency and legislature seats across a country that stretches more than 5000km from its western to eastern tips was both a Herculean logistical feat and testimony to the resilience of democracy two decades after authoritarianism was defeated.
The poll followed a campaign dominated by economic issues but was also marked by the growing influence of conservative Islam in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.
The official election results will not be published until May. Any disputes can be taken to the Constitutional Court where a nine-judge panel will have 14 days to rule on them.