Indonesia election 2024: Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto claims victory

Former governors Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan trail front-runner in unofficial polls

Millions vote in Indonesia election to choose next president

Millions vote in Indonesia election to choose next president
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Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto claimed victory in the first round of Indonesia's presidential election on Wednesday.

The front-runner in pre-election polls, Mr Prabowo won about 58 per cent of votes according to four pollsters based on ballots counted in a sample of voting stations nationwide.

His two main rivals, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo, trailed with about 25 per cent and 17 per cent respectively, according to independent pollsters conducting "quick counts", which in previous elections have proven to be accurate.

There was no declaration by electoral officials and neither Mr Anies nor Mr Pranowo have conceded defeat.

Mr Prabowo is the only candidate with ties to the Suharto dictatorship, under which he served as a special forces commander, and has close ties to the popular sitting president Joko Widodo.

To avoid a run-off, he will need more than 50 per cent of the total votes cast and at least 20 per cent in each of the country’s 38 provinces.

Voting ended on Wednesday afternoon with no major problems reported.

“Alhamdulillah [praise be to God], we hope the election can go in one round,” said Nusron Wahid, secretary of Mr Prabowo's campaign team, commenting on the latest counts.

Mr Prabowo has undergone an image rebrand and is contesting his third successive election after twice losing out to Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, who cannot run for a third consecutive term as head of the world's third-largest democracy.

About 259,000 candidates are vying for 20,600 posts in the world's biggest single-day election, Reuters reported.

Polls opened at 7am local time in each of the three time zones across the tropical nation's 17,000 islands inhabited by 270 million people.

The logistics of the vote were daunting: ballot boxes and ballots were transported by boat, motorcycle, horse and on foot in some of the more far-flung locations, AP reported.

A fierce thunderstorm flooded several streets of Jakarta at dawn.

Last week, damage from heavy rains in Central Java's Demak regency prompted the postponement of the election in 10 villages.

Mr Prabowo's main challengers were two former regional governors, Mr Ganjar and Mr Anies.

Mr Anies campaigned on promises of change and preventing a backsliding in the democratic reforms achieved in the 25 years since the end of Mr Suharto's authoritarian, kleptocratic rule.

Mr Ganjar is from the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle, of which the current president is ostensibly a member, and has campaigned largely on continuing his policies, but crucially lacks Mr Joko's endorsement.

Novan Maradona, 42, an entrepreneur, said after voting in central Jakarta he wanted a candidate who would continue policies currently in place.

“If we start over from zero, it will take time,” he said.

Undecided voters will be critical for Mr Anies, a former governor of Jakarta, and former Central Java governor Mr Ganjar to force a run-off in June between the top two finishers.

“I want to underline that we want honest and fair elections so that it becomes peaceful,” Mr Anies said at a polling station

Deadly riots broke out after the 2019 election, when Mr Prabowo initially contested Mr Joko's win.

Updated: February 14, 2024, 5:55 PM