Indonesia's President congratulates Prabowo as early election count points to victory

His running mate will be the youngest vice-president in Indonesia's history

Presidential candidate and Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto with supporters after polls closed on Wednesday. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo said on Thursday he had congratulated Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto after unofficial counts showed him winning the presidential election in a single round of voting.

“I have [congratulated him], in person last night,” Mr Joko said.

Mr Prabowo, 72, declared a “victory for all Indonesians” before jubilant supporters late on Wednesday, after so-called quick ballot counts by independent pollsters showed he had won nearly 60 per cent of votes.

Mr Prabowo's win is not yet official – his two rivals have not yet conceded and the official results could take up to a month to be tabulated.

Official results are expected by March 20 and, if confirmed, the new president and vice-president will take office in October.

The early counts, conducted by polling agencies and based on millions of ballots sampled from the across the country, have proved accurate in past elections.

“We should not be arrogant. We should not be proud. We should not be euphoric. We still have to be humble. This victory must be a victory for all Indonesian people,” Mr Prabowo said in a speech broadcast on national television from a sports stadium on the night of the election.

A former rival of Mr Joko who lost two presidential races to him, Mr Prabowo embraced the popular leader to run as his heir.

The wealthy former general even chose Mr Joko's son as his running mate, a choice that ran up against constitutional age limits and has activists worried about an emerging political dynasty in the 25-year-old democracy.

Mr Joko's eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is poised to become the youngest vice-president in Indonesia's history.

Spokespersons for Mr Prabowo's rivals, former governors Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo, who trailed at least 33 points behind in quick counts, said they would investigate allegations of “systematic and massive fraud”, but have not provided any evidence.

Second-placed rival Mr Anies, who gathered 25 per cent of the vote, said his team will wait for the official results and respect the people's decision.

Independent analysts said there were no signs of systematic electoral fraud.

Mr Prabowo was born in 1951 to one of Indonesia's most powerful families.

His father, Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, was an influential politician, and a minister under presidents Sukarno and Suharto. His father first worked for Sukarno, but later turned against him and was forced into exile.

Mr Prabowo spent most of his childhood overseas and speaks French, German, English and Dutch.

The family returned to Indonesia after Gen Suharto came to power in 1967 after a failed left-wing coup.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 11:31 AM