Presidential vote too tight to call


The third largest democracy in the world will be voting today for a new President and Vice-President. Indonesia consists of 6,000 inhabited islands spread across 5,150 kilometres of ocean. A total of 188,268,423 registered voters will be choosing from two candidates and their running mates across 478,685 polling stations between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time.

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the current Governor of Jakarta and the candidate of the Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) remains in the lead according to most opinion polls, but his lead has been slashed from around 30% two months ago to between 3% and 4% in the most recent polls. Mr Widodo’s running mate for the Vice-Presidency is Jusuf Kalla (Party of the Functional Groups – Golkar). The two men have the support of four other parties with around 41% of the vote from the April general election. For the first time the Jakarta Post newspaper has endorsed Jokowi for President.

His rival is former Lieutenant General from the Indonesian National Armed Forces, Prabowo Subianto who is standing for the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). His running mate is Hatta Rajasa of the National Mandate Party (PAN). Between them they have the support of five other parties with a combined vote in the general election in April of around 59%. Unusually the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who has completed his two term limit along with his Democratic Party endorsed Mr. Subianto last week. The President’s endorsement is not necessarily good news because of low voter approval for him and his party along with allegations of corruption.

Overseas voting which took place last Sunday saw high turnout with as many as 22,200 voting in Singapore and 23,500 in Hong Kong as well as other missions. Turnout in the April general election was 65% and this time it is expected to be much higher, possibly because of the closeness of the race.

There have been allegations of vote rigging with one newspaper suggesting that many election officials are supporters of Prabowo Subianto. Certainly the campaign has become increasingly unpleasant and personal as polling day has approached.

Results are expected to be announced on 21/22 July with the new President being inaugurated on 20th October.

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