The rival candidates in Indonesia’s presidential election each claimed victory Wednesday, raising uncertainty about the political and legal landscape in a nation that made the transition from dictatorship to democracy less than two decades ago.
According to the three most reputable quick-count surveys, soft-spoken Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo won the election in Southeast Asia’s largest economy with 52 percent of the vote, but his Suharto-era opponent, Prabowo Subianto, said other data indicated he had won. Widodo is the first candidate in an Indonesian direct presidential election with no connection to former dictator Suharto’s 1966-1998 regime and its excesses.
The quick counts tally a representative sample of votes cast around the country and have accurately forecast the results of every Indonesian national election since 2004, including this past April’s parliamentary polls. It will be around two weeks before votes are officially tallied and the results announced in Indonesia, a country of 240 million people and the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
This is “not a victory for the party, not a victory for the campaign team, but this is a victory for the people of Indonesia,” Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, told supporters from a historical site in Jakarta where the nation’s independence was declared. Hundreds of supporters later celebrated at a famous traffic circle in the capital, waving flags and setting off fireworks.
But Subianto _ a general in the Suharto regime and the late dictator’s former son-in-law _ said he had different quick-count data showing he had won.
“Thank God, all the data from the quick counts show that we, Prabowo-Hatta, gained the people’s trust,” Subianto told a news conference, referring to his running mate, Hatta Rajasa.
“We ask all the coalition’s supporters and Indonesian people to guard and escort this victory until the official count” by the election commission, Subianto said.
Later, he told supporters that his opponent went too far by giving a victory speech, saying “a true warrior does not need to show off his strength,” while adding that his camp is not weak and has not given up.
Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged both sides to “restrain themselves” and not allow their supporters to publicly declare victory until the election commission decides the winner. Yudhoyono, also a general in the Suharto regime, was elected president in 2004. He served two five-year terms and was prevented by the constitution from seeking re-election.
Widodo’s appeal is that despite a lack of experience in national politics, he is seen as a man of the people who wants to advance democratic reforms and is untainted by the often corrupt military and business elite that has run Indonesia for decades. Subianto, meanwhile, had a dubious human rights record during his military continued…
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