Jakarta, April 17 (IANS) Millions of Indonesians queued up outside voting booths on Wednesday to elect the next President of the world’s third largest democracy as incumbent leader Joko “Jokowi” Widodo faces off against longtime rival and former Army general Prabowo Subianto.
Some 192.8 million people are eligible to vote across the archipelago’s 17,000 islands in what is the world’s biggest direct presidential election.
Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, cast his vote in Jakarta shortly after Subianto cast his in a polling station in Bogor, Efe news reported.
After he left the polling station in the central district of Gambir, Widodo told the media that he was optimistic about the results as he and his party had worked for the people.
Widodo was leading by an average of 20 points in pre-poll surveys, although according to some analysts undecided voters and possible errors in polling may influence the final outcome.
The General Elections Commission of Indonesia (KPU) expected a 77.5 per cent turnout and the government declared Wednesday a national holiday to ensure that there were no obstacles to voting.
In addition to electing the President and Vice President, voters will also elect members of 575 seats of the lower house, 136 of the upper house, and representatives to the provincial and municipal legislative chambers.
Indonesian elections are one of the most complex in the world, as more than 190 million voters are called to vote at 800,000 polling stations to elect from 245,000 candidates for 20,000 posts in a single day.
Another two million Indonesians living abroad will cast their votes through postal ballots.
Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, is one of Southeast Asia’s most consolidated democracies, and political analysts find little possibility of any large-scale manipulation during the voting process.
However, Subianto, a few weeks earlier had reported irregularities in the electoral lists and threatened to approach the Constitutional Court unless they were addressed.