Widodo on course for win

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 18 Apr 2019

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo was on track last night to win a second term in an apparent victory for moderation over the ultra-nationalistic rhetoric of his rival Prabowo Subianto.

Counts by five independent survey groups that have been correct previously showed the 57-year-old Widodo with a clear lead over the former general. With up to 80 percent of sample polling stations counted, the five showed Widodo winning about 55 percent of the vote.

Tens of millions of Indonesians cast votes in the presidential and legislative elections after a campaign that pitted the steady progress of Widodo's government against Subianto's claim the nation would fall apart without his strongman leadership.

Addressing jubilant supporters a few hours after polls closed, Widodo said he was aware of his lead and called for the nation to reunite after the divisions of the campaign.

"From the indications of the exit poll and also the quick counts, we can see it all, but we must be patient to wait for the official counting from the Election Commission," he said.

Subianto, who also lost to Widodo in the 2014 presidential election, had not yet conceded defeat. He said his campaign's exit poll and quick count showed that he had won but urged his supporters not to cause chaos.

His campaign team has alleged massive voter list irregularities, but analysts say the claims are absurd and designed to undermine the election.

The election was a huge logistical exercise with 193 million people eligible to vote, more than 800,000 polling stations and 17 million people involved in ensuring polls ran smoothly. Helicopters, boats and horses were used to get ballots to remote and inaccessible corners of the archipelago.

Pre-election polls consistently gave a large lead - as much as 20 percentage points - to Widodo and his running mate, conservative cleric Ma'ruf Aminr.

Widodo's campaign highlighted his progress in poverty reduction and improving Indonesia's inadequate infrastructure with new ports, toll roads, airports and mass rapid transit. The latter became a reality last month in chronically congested Jakarta with the opening of a subway.

"This country is better managed by a man with a clean track record," said Cahya Pratama, 43, after voting in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta.

A strident nationalist, Subianto, 67, had tried to win through fear, highlighting what he sees as Indonesia's weakness and the risk of exploitation by foreign powers. "I was impressed with his commitment to create a clean government and a great nation," said Anneka Karoine, 43.

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