JAKARTA, Indonesia — Voters in Indonesia headed to the polls on Wednesday morning on the earth’s largest direct presidential election, to determine who will lead the nation for the following 5 years.
Prabowo Subianto, an ex-general and son-in-law of the previous dictator Suharto, is searching for a win towards President Joko Widodo, who defeated Mr. Prabowo within the final election, 5 years in the past.
Mr. Joko, 57, who has emphasised infrastructure improvement whereas trying to shore up assist amongst conventional Muslims, holds a commanding lead in public opinion polls. He was the governor of Jakarta, the capital, earlier than changing into president.
“If in truth Prabowo wins, it could be a significant, main upset,” mentioned Marcus Mietzner, a senior fellow at Australian Nationwide College and an skilled on Indonesian politics.
That is Mr. Prabowo’s fourth attempt for the presidency, and a few critics worry a victory might flip the clock again towards authoritarian rule.
As a lieutenant common through the Suharto period, which ended with the dictator’s ouster in 1998, Mr. Prabowo, 67, commanded the dreaded Particular Forces and was later dismissed from the military for insubordination and the kidnapping of no less than 9 activists who opposed his father-in-law’s rule.
On this election, Mr. Prabowo sought assist from hard-line Islamists who’re wanting to develop the function of Islam in each day life and favor measures reminiscent of requiring ladies and ladies to put on hijabs in public.
To counter Mr. Prabowo’s attraction to such Muslims, Mr. Joko named a conservative cleric, Ma’ruf Amin, as his working mate and made a pilgrimage to Mecca this week to remind voters of his piety.
At a polling station in central Jakarta, Trianasari Arief, 44, mentioned she was excited to vote for Mr. Joko and needed to do her half to maintain Mr. Prabowo from successful. She mentioned the ex-general, identified for his fast mood and unpredictable conduct, reminded her of President Trump and his upset victory in 2016.
“I don’t need what occurred in the US to occur in Indonesia — the place individuals don’t go to vote they usually get the orange-skin man into workplace,” Ms. Trianasari mentioned. “I’ve to vote.”
But it surely appeared that Mr. Prabowo’s anti-elitist message was successful favor amongst different voters. Sri Lestari, 42, a nanny within the prosperous Menteng neighborhood, mentioned Mr. Joko had not completed sufficient to deliver equity to the judicial system, resolve human rights instances or unify the individuals.
“I desire a chief who’s agency and has excessive integrity, who’s unbiased, not steered by different individuals and may decide on his personal,” she mentioned.
At a time when many Southeast Asian nations have develop into autocratic, Indonesia stays one of the crucial democratic.
About 190 million individuals are eligible to vote in an election that can make use of six million momentary ballot employees. To stop undue affect, members of the army and the police — greater than 800,000 individuals — are barred from voting.
The polls will shut on Wednesday afternoon, and unofficial outcomes may very well be introduced by early night.
If he loses, Mr. Prabowo is anticipated to problem the legitimacy of the vote and declare that the outcomes had been tainted by irregularities, a cost he has made after earlier defeats.
Though candidates had been barred from campaigning as of Sunday, Mr. Prabowo held a information convention on Tuesday night and predicted that he would win by a landslide.
“It’s all proper for me to present a prediction, proper?” he mentioned. “I can reveal it, proper? Sixty-three p.c.”
Most unbiased polls have proven Mr. Joko main by about 20 factors.
Mr. Prabowo additionally claimed that the authorities in some areas had helped Mr. Joko’s marketing campaign by arresting native officers who backed the previous common’s ticket. He didn’t cite any particular areas the place this had occurred, however he mentioned there had been “many regarding instances.”
“We really feel there have been many injustices and unfairness,” Mr. Prabowo mentioned.