Joko, Prabowo claim victory in close fight
BOTH candidates claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election yesterday, suggesting there could be a drawn-out constitutional battle to decide who will next lead the world's third-largest democracy.
Just a few hours after voting closed, Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said he had won, based on what are widely seen as independent quick counts of more than 90 per cent of the votes.
But former general Prabowo Subianto, the rival candidate, pointed to a quick count by other pollsters naming him the winner.
He did not name the pollsters. But a check by Reuters of seven agencies tallying the votes showed two put him ahead by between 1 and 2 percentage points. The other five showed a Joko win by around 5 percentage points.
The quick counts are conducted by private agencies, which collate vote tallies as they come out of each district.
The results are not official, but quick counts by three non-partisan pollsters - CSIS, Kompas and Saifulmujani - showed a Joko win.
"Quick counts related to pro-Prabowo media outlets may continue to claim a very narrow Prabowo win - conceivably this could serve as a rationale for an electoral dispute later," said Kevin O'Rourke, a political analyst.
"Negative publicity for Prabowo, combined with Widodo's final debate performance and increased social media activity, halted Prabowo's momentum in the final week of campaigning," he said.
The Election Commission will take about two weeks to declare the results officially and the new president is not due to take office until Oct 1.
Ahead of the vote, the two candidates had been neck and neck in opinion polls as Mr Joko lost a huge early lead.
"We are thankful that according to the quick-count announcements...Jokowi-JK...have won," Mr Joko told reporters and jubilant supporters in south Jakarta. JK refers to his running mate Jusuf Kalla, who was vice-president in the first term of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Mr Prabowo countered him about an hour later with the same claim.
"(The quick counts) show that we, Prabowo-Hatta, have received the support and mandate from the people of Indonesia," he told a rally in the capital, referring to his running mate Hatta Rajasa.
There have been concerns about violence once the result is known, a worry alluded to by Mr Yudhoyono when he urged both sides to accept the result. But there were no reports of any violence during the voting and in the early hours of counting.
The election has been the dirtiest and most confrontational campaign in memory in a country which traditionally holds up the value of consensus politics.
After the official result is declared, candidates can challenge the results in the Constitutional Court, the final arbiter over contested polls.
"There have always been challenges...So we could end up with delayed certainty for a few weeks," Douglas Ramage, a Jakarta-based political analyst, told Reuters.