245,000 Indonesian candidates seek election

Indonesian voters are currently choosing between either President Joko Widodo and former army general Prabowo Subianto (pictured) in what is described as the most complicated single-day election ever undertaken.  

Around 192.8 million people are registered to vote across the 17,000 Indonesian islands.

Staff are moving cardboard ballot boxes by motorbike, canoe, boat and plane and with elephants and horses – to reach mountain villages and jungle tribes.

Voters will punch holes in ballots against their candidate choice and dip a finger in halal ink to prevent double-voting.

For the first time, the presidential and legislative elections are being held on the same day, with more than 245,000 candidates in excess of 20,000 seats with more than 800,000 polling stations and 6 million staff.

Prabowo, the former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, has chosen multimillionaire businessman Sandiaga Uno, a one-time private equity manager, as his vice-presidential choice. “Jokowi” controversially opted for Ma’ruf Amin, 76, a conservative Islamic leader who has issued fatwas against LGBT groups, as his running mate. 

Most poling gives Widodo a double-digit lead, but Prabowo claims the race is much closer and he said yesterday that he expected to win with 63 per cent of the vote.

While the Indian general election is straddling more than a month, the Indonesian elections take place over eight hours.

Early results are expected later today (Wednesday).

A tornado in East Java yesterday destroyed two village polling stations and cut power to two others, forcing the authorities to move voting to safer areas, according to Antara.

Voters have five ballot papers: for the president and vice-president, for one of the 575-member House of Representatives, for the Regional Representative Council (or upper house), provincial MPs and municipal councils.

Indonesia’s election watchdog has called for a revote for more than 300,000 expats living in Malaysia and those in Australia after a video appeared to show pre-marked ballot papers for Jokowi.

A decision is due to be taken by the election commission.

Prabowo’s team has also claimed the electoral register has been undermined by millions of “ghost” voters. Some observers believe the claims indicate the opposition is laying the groundwork for a legal challenge in case they lose.

“We are very concerned, we hope and we pray that today’s election will be fair and peaceful, it will be peaceful if it’s fair. Hopefully, the will of the Indonesian people, will be heard today,” said Prabowo after voting.


Former army general Prabowo Subianto. Picture credit: YouTube