Widodo set for Indonesia election victory
Indonesian President Joko Widodo appears set for a second term as "quick count" results from the nation's election roll in, but his challenger claims that he has won the popular vote and urged supporters not to let his victory be snatched away.
Data from private pollsters based on counts of vote samples were in line with opinion polls that had predicted a win for Widodo, a former furniture businessman and low-key reformist.
They showed him winning the popular vote with about 54 per cent, with a lead of between 7.1 and 11.6 percentage points over former general Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated when he took Widodo on in the last election five years ago.
Prabowo, a former son-in-law of military strongman Suharto who was overthrown in 1998, told a news conference that - based on internal exit polls and "quick count" numbers - his campaign believed his share of the vote was in a 52-54 per cent range.
"We have noted several incidents that have harmed the supporters of this ticket," he said, without giving detail.
"Our volunteers should focus on safeguarding the ballot boxes because they are key to our victory."
Widodo said the results indicated he had regained the presidency of the world's fourth-most-populous nation, but urged supporters to wait for the election commission to announce official results.
The eight-hour vote on Wednesday for both the presidency and legislature seats across a country that stretches more than 5000 km from its western to eastern tips was both a Herculean logistical feat and testimony to the resilience of democracy two decades after authoritarianism was defeated.
The poll followed a campaign dominated by economic issues but was also marked by the growing influence of conservative Islam in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.
A senior government official close to the president said before the election that a win for Widodo with 52-55 per cent of the vote would be a "sweet spot", and enough of a mandate to press on with, and even accelerate, reforms.
The official election results will not be published until May. Any disputes can be taken to the Constitutional Court where a nine-judge panel will have 14 days to rule on them.
More than 10,000 volunteers crowd-sourced results posted at polling stations in a real-time bid to thwart attempts at fraud.
Widodo campaigned on his record of deregulation and improving infrastructure, calling his first term a step to tackling inequality and poverty in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
But religion has also been a factor. Conservative Muslim groups have been increasingly influential.
Widodo, a moderate Muslim from Java island, had to burnish his Islamic credentials after smear campaigns and hoax stories accused him of being anti-Islam, a communist or too close to China, all politically damaging in Indonesia. He picked Islamic cleric Ma'ruf Amin, 76, as his running mate.
Prabowo, a former special forces commander who has links to some hardline Muslim groups, and his running mate, business entrepreneur Sandiaga Uno, pledged to boost the economy by slashing taxes and cutting food prices.
© AAP 2019