Narrow Finish as Indonesia Presidential Candidates Stand Their Ground

A man shows his ink-stained finger after voting in Cakung, East Jakarta, on Wednesday. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma)

A man shows his ink-stained finger after voting in Cakung, East Jakarta, on Wednesday. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma)

Jakarta. The largely peaceful presidential election on Wednesday was capped by a declarations of victory from Joko Widodo and a refusal to concede defeat by Prabowo Subianto, with each candidate citing their own set of quick counts to justify their positions and prompting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to call on both sides to exercise self-restraint.

Joko and his running mate, former vice president Jusuf Kalla, were the first to declare a win, just three hours after polling stations across the country closed at 1 p.m. Jakarta time. They based their claim on quick count results issued by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting and the research and development department of Kompas daily, among several other pollsters, who gave Joko the lead with 52 to 53 percent of the vote, against 46 to 47 percent for Prabowo and his running mate, Hatta Rajasa.

“We’re grateful that the quick count results show that Jokowi-J.K. are the winners,” the Jakarta governor told a press conference at the home of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chairwoman of his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

He went on to thank the members of the PDI-P-led coalition backing him, including the National Awakening Party (PKB), the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Democrat Party (NasDem) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI).

“We express the greatest gratitude to all the Indonesian people, from Sabang to Merauke, our volunteers from Sabang to Merauke, the members of the PDI-P, NasDem, Hanura, PKPI — all who have worked shoulder-to-shoulder, day and night,” Joko said.

Megawati looked tearful with joy, sharing a brief emotional hug with her daughter, Puan Maharani, before appearing at Joko’s side during the press conference.

She spoke about how the PDI-P had finally returned to power after she lost the presidency to Yudhoyono in 2004.

“I want to say thousands of thanks. We’ve been fasting [not in power] for 10 years,” she said as quoted by “God willing, in the future Indonesia will become a prosperous, just and flourishing country.”

But the camp of former Army general Prabowo quickly disputed the claim, declaring their own victory in a televised statement soon after, citing the quick count results of their own “benchmark” pollsters.

“Based on quick count results by polling institutions that we use as a benchmark, we have received a mandate from the people of Indonesia,” Prabowo said. “We’re asking the entire supporters of the Red-and-White Coalition and the entire people of Indonesia to safeguard and preserve this victory until the KPU [the General Elections Commission] completes its official tally.”

Prabowo also took to Twitter to thank the people of Indonesia for having entrusted him to lead the nation. “I am very grateful, touched and honored with this great trust. Thank you,” he said through his Twitter account @Prabowo08.

While Joko ended his speech by standing and singing the national anthem along with Megawati, Kalla and senior politicians from their coalition partners, Prabowo ended his speech by performing the sujud syukur — a prostration in thanks to Allah.

Who’s really leading?

At least 11 pollsters performed quick counts of the election and announced the results on Wednesday, although by the late evening most of the results were not final yet and still a few percentage points away from 100 percent.

Quick count results typically don’t differ much from the actual final tally, as was the case in the April 9 legislative election, when polls predicted the PDI-P won between 18 and 20 percent of the vote to lead all 10 parties in the running. The official result from the KPU showed that the PDI-P won 18.95 percent.

The results of the 11 quick counts on Wednesday, though, were divided, although most of the pollsters — seven — declared Joko the winner, while the four called it for Prabowo.

SMRC, the Indonesia Survey Circle (LSI), Indikator Politik Indonesia and Kompas were among those calling the election for Joko, saying he won by a clear margin of 4 to 6 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the Indonesia Voter Network (JSI), the National Survey Institute (LSN), the Indonesia Research Center (IRC) and the Center for Policy Studies and Strategies Development (Puskaptis) — which are less known to the public — showed Prabowo in the lead, albeit by the narrowest of margins, collecting 50 to 52 percent of the vote over Joko’s 48 to 49 percent.

Both camps have disputed the quick count results deemed unfavorable to their sides.

“The victory is their one-sided claim. The quick counts are still ongoing,” Mahfud M.D., Prabowo’s campaign manager, said before Prabowo went on television to declare his own victory. “We’re also doing our own count. Not all the ballots have come in yet. We’re confident that Prabowo-Hatta will win,” Mahfud added.

Puan, the deputy campaign manager for Joko, hit back after Prabowo’s televised claim. “What do they base their win on? We also have our own facts and data. God willing, Jokowi-J.K. will win, based on people’s choice,” she said.

The official KPU tally will only be announced on July 21 or 22.

With a razor-thin victory predicted for whoever wins, analysts have expressed concerns over vote rigging allegations that could affect the final outcome, give rise to ugly exchanges of fraud allegations between both camps,  kick off potential disputes against the official tally, and spark subsequent conflicts.

Candidates will be allowed to dispute the result of the election to the Constitutional Court from July 23 to 24. The court is expected to hand down a final decision by Aug. 22, before the new president and vice president are scheduled to be sworn in on Oct. 20.

The court’s ruling will be final and binding, although observers have warned it will likely be questioned and even disputed by supporters of the losing candidate, given the amount of public trust that it has hemorrhaged since last year, when its chief justice, Akil Mochtar, was arrested for taking bribes in exchange for favorable rulings in regional election disputes.

Akil was last week sentenced to life in jail for bribery and money laundering.

Calls for restraint

Yudhoyono, whose Democratic Party endorsed Prabowo last week, held his own televised press conference after both candidates had made their declarations, in which he called for self-restraint from supporters of both sides.

“I’m calling on and sincerely hoping that some political leaders and elites will prevent their supporters [from attacking each other] until everything becomes clear,” he said from his home in Cikeas, Bogor. “People are watching how the two sides are each claiming victory for themselves. I hope both sides can practice self-restraint.”

A call for restraint also came from KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik, who emphasized that the real winner would only be decided after the KPU had finalized the count from polling stations across the country.

“The KPU is asking all members of the public, as well as election participants and their supporters and campaign teams, to stay calm and patient, and be aware that quick counts don’t represent an official tally from the KPU,” he said at the KPU headquarters in Central Jakarta. “We’re expecting the participation from the campaign teams of both tickets in calming down all their members.”

He called on each side, the pollsters and the Indonesian public to keep a close watch on the KPU’s ongoing vote count.

Breakdown by region

As predicted before the election, Prabowo won in West Java, Indonesia’s most populous province, with nearly 60 percent of the vote there, compared with Joko’s 40 percent, according to the quick count result from SMRC. He also won in Banten and five out of eight Sumatra provinces — with a notable 70 percent in West Sumatra.

Joko, meanwhile, won in Jakarta with nearly 55 percent vote, as well as in the PDI-P strongholds of Central Java and Bali with overwhelming leads of nearly 66 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

The SMRC also called much of eastern Indonesia for Joko and Kalla, who is from South Sulawesi, including almost all of Sulawesi (except for Gorontalo province on the northern tip) and most of Kalimantan, except for South Kalimantan.

Joko also recorded significant wins in Papua and West Papua with 68 percent and 71 percent of the vote, respectively, according to SMRC.

There were a total of 190.3 million registered voters nationwide, with the various pollsters putting voter turnout at between 72 percent (from the LSI and CSIS-Cyrus Network) and 81 percent (from the JSI), or 137 million to 154 million people casting their ballots.

The figure was higher than the 121.5 million people who voted in the 2009 presidential election, but roughly the same as the 75 percent turnout in April’s legislative election. JG


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