Jakarta, April 17 (IANS) Indonesia’s current President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo looks to be on course for re-election after the country went to the polls on Wednesday, according to unofficial results.
Widodo, who represents the continuity of social policies and has a moderate profile, is about 10 percentage points ahead of his long time rival and former Army general Prabowo Subianto, who has protectionist and nationalist policies, in early results.
Millions of Indonesians queued up outside voting booths early Wednesday to elect the next President of the world’s third largest democracy. More than 192 million people were eligible to cast their ballot to select 20,000 local and national lawmakers, including the President.
Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, is expected to have secured 54 to 56 per cent of the votes while Prabowo has managed between 43 and 45 per cent, according to unofficial projections carried out by pollsters.
The Electoral Commission will officially announce the results in May, the BBC reported.
The General Elections Commission of Indonesia (KPU) estimated a 77.5 per cent turnout and the government declared Wednesday a national holiday to ensure maximum voting.
The results were reported hours after the closure of the polling stations and represent predictions from 40 independent companies approved by the poll body.
Widodo cast his vote in Jakarta shortly after Subianto cast his in a polling station in Bogor. After he left the polling station in the district of Gambir, Widodo told the media that he was optimistic about the results as he and his party had worked for the people.
Another two million Indonesians living abroad were estimated to cast their votes through postal ballots.
During the campaign, both candidates defended their Islamic credentials in a country with the largest Muslim population in the world — 88 per cent of its more than 265 million residents — and which has seen a rise in conservative Islam in recent years.
Widodo belongs to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which occupies 109 of Parliament’s 560 current seats, while Prabowo belongs to the Great Indonesia Movement Party which occupies 73.
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.
Parties that do not secure at least 4 per cent of the votes in Parliament will not be represented in the lower house.
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.