Indonesia counts votes in presidential race amid calls for transparency

Indonesian authorities counted votes on Wednesday in the world's largest single-day election, featuring a closely watched presidential race to determine President Joko Widodo's successor.

Publication: 14.02.2024 - 10:56
Indonesia counts votes in presidential race amid calls for transparency
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Widodo's influence looms large over the contest, which pits former governors Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan against the controversial frontrunner, Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, a former special forces commander with a feared reputation from the 1990s under Indonesia's late dictator Suharto.

Initial results from independent pollsters' "quick counts" are expected later Wednesday. These counts, based on samples from polling stations nationwide, have historically been accurate. Election laws prohibit the release of quick counts before 0800 GMT, with official results due by March 20.

The presidential race dominates attention, focusing on Widodo's ambitions to make Indonesia an electric vehicle hub and continue extensive infrastructure development, including relocating the capital city. Recent surveys suggest Prabowo, who aims to maintain Widodo's programs, might secure a majority and avoid a runoff, showing him with just over 51% support, well ahead of Baswedan and Pranowo.

Novan Maradona, a 42-year-old entrepreneur from central Jakarta, expressed his preference for continuity in policy. Polls closed across Indonesia's three time zones by 0600 GMT. In Jakarta, the start was sluggish due to thunderstorms causing floods, affecting around 70 polling stations, though the impact on turnout, typically around 75%, remains unclear. Some stations even celebrated with Valentine's Day decorations or offered fruit to voters.

The call for a clean election resonates, especially among undecided voters who could push Baswedan and Pranowo into a runoff. Anies Baswedan emphasized the need for honest and fair elections at a polling station. The 2019 election aftermath, marred by deadly riots when Prabowo contested Widodo's victory, looms as a stark reminder.

Around 200,000 security personnel are deployed to ensure safety. "So far, the situation is safe and under control," stated National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo, affirming readiness for any post-voting incidents.

Anies Baswedan campaigns for change and to uphold democratic reforms post-Suharto, while Ganjar Pranowo, from Widodo's party, promises to continue the president's policies without his explicit endorsement. Prabowo, contesting his third election after two defeats to Widodo, has received tacit support from the outgoing president, suggesting a desire for continuity. Widodo's tenure saw significant investment attraction efforts and economic improvements.

Prabowo has softened his image, appealing to younger voters with his presence on TikTok. Despite this rebranding and Jokowi's implied support, criticisms arise over potential neutrality breaches and election integrity. Jokowi reassured that any concerns could be addressed through official channels, emphasizing the mechanisms in place to contest and report election issues.

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