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Indonesians head to polls in largest single-day election

Indonesians head to polls in largest single-day election


Indonesian authorities have finalized final preparations ahead of today's elections, with around 25,000 police tasked with providing security during a vote seen as a test of democratic gains made since the end of authoritarian rule ago 25 years.

Outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo has presided over steady growth and relative stability over the past decade in the mineral-rich G20 economy of 270 million people, making it a future base for multinationals in the electric vehicle supply chain.

Yet Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, has been criticized in the run-up to today's presidential election for his perceived political interference and desire to establish a political dynasty.

Photo: AP

He has not explicitly endorsed any of the three presidential candidates, but has made high-profile appearances with controversial Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, and Widodos' eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is running on the same ticket for the Indonesian vice-presidency.

Two opinion polls last week predicted that Prabowo, who is running for president for the third time, could get more than 50 percent of the vote today, allowing him to win in a single round. His rivals, former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, were at least 27 and 31 points behind him, respectively.

Indonesia has entered a period of reflection until polling day, with candidates barred from campaigning.

Organizing elections is a gargantuan task in Indonesia. The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands spans three time zones and a distance similar to the width of the United States.

Election officials delivered ballot boxes and voting materials to remote areas, sometimes traveling for hours by boat, helicopter or ox-drawn carts.

The weather agency warned of the risk of severe weather in West Java on polling day, media reported.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's election commission postponed voting in 10 villages in Central Java's Karanganyar district due to flooding.

Jokowi's tacit support for Prabowo has led to accusations that he flouted election rules, which he rejects.

In Indonesia, sitting presidents can campaign for candidates provided they do not use state resources and must take official leave to do so. Historical actors have generally been neutral.

Indonesia's presidential office has denied any political interference by Jokowi.

Hundreds of students staged noisy street demonstrations on Monday to protest what they see as a democratic backsliding under the leadership of Jokowi, a former furniture salesman who appeared to offer a clean break from the military and political elite.

In 1998, huge student protests fueled unrest that led to the fall of former Indonesian President Suharto and helped usher in democracy.

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