Why Australians should care about the Indonesian elections

Why Australians should care about the Indonesian elections

Experts say Australians should take notice as around 193 million Indonesians go to the polls today in the largest single-day election in the world.

“It’s a question of knowing your neighbours,” Adjunct Professor Colin Brown from Griffith University said.

“If you want a good relationship with someone you need to know something about them.”

The tens-of-millions of voters are spread across 17,000 islands and have just six hours to cast their ballot.

How is it possible?

Deploying more poll workers than the population of Singapore certainly helps.

Indonesian election workers carry ballot boxes as they cross a river to deliver them to remote villages in Maros, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. (AAP)
A police officer and a soldier assist a worker as they use horses to distribute ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia to polling stations in remote villages in Tempurejo, East Java, Indonesia. (AAP)

In a country first, Indonesians are voting for their president, parliament and regional leaders all on the same day.

Professor Brown says incumbent President Joko Widodo, who’s led multiple pre-polls, has been Australia’s ally in many matters including border control, while his opponent Prabowo Subianto has no track record as a political leader and also brings a nationalist approach.

“One of the phrases he’s used in his campaign is ‘Making Indonesia great again’. He’s like Trump in some respects,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, and his challenger in the upcoming election Prabowo Subianto during their campaign rallies in Jakarta. (AAP)
The world's third largest democracy is holding its legislative and presidential elections. (AAP)

There are predictions the millionaire businessman could overhaul the landmark trade deal with Australia, which is supposed to allow tariff-free exporting, but is yet to be cemented by either parliament.

In a sign of the times, taking centre stage of this campaign, has been the battle of who’s a better Muslim.

Widely considered only a moderate follower, Widodo brought in a super conservative cleric as a running mate, while Prabowo has become a figurehead for extremists who’ve flagged mass protests if their nominated leader doesn’t win.

Initial results should be known tonight with the official count likely to take days or weeks.

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