World

Indonesian President Widodo looks set for second term: Pollsters

But challenger Prabowo claims his share of the vote to be in 52 to 54 per cent range

JAKARTA Indonesian President Joko Widodo appeared set for a second term as "quick count" results from yesterday's election rolled in, but his challenger claimed that he had 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 Mr Widodo, a former furniture businessman.

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 former general Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated when he took Mr Widodo on in the last election five years ago.

In previous elections, the counts from reputable companies proved to be accurate. But Mr 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, without giving details.

"The truth will win."

In 2014, Mr Prabowo had also claimed victory on election day, before contesting the results at the Constitutional Court, which confirmed Mr Widodo's win.

Mr Widodo said the results indicated he had regained the presidency of the world's fourth most-populous nation, but he urged supporters to wait for the election commission to announce the official results.

Mr Kevin O'Rourke, a political analyst and author of the Indonesia-focused newsletter Reformasi Weekly, said that Mr Widodo's re-election was now clear but his victory over 67-year-old Mr Prabowo was not resounding.

"He failed to attain the psychological 60 per cent level that had seemed within reach," Mr O'Rourke said.

"Prabowo performed better than expected, which may embolden him to run yet again in 2024, if he is sufficiently fit."

Mr Widodo grew up in a riverside slum and was the first national leader to come from outside the political and military elite.

The eight-hour vote for both the presidency and legislature seats across a country that stretches more than 5,000km 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.

More than 10,000 volunteers crowd-sourced results posted at polling stations in a real-time bid to thwart attempts at fraud. - REUTERS

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