JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on track to win a second term, preliminary election results showed Wednesday, in apparent victory for moderation over the ultra-nationalistic rhetoric of his rival Prabowo Subianto.
Vote counts from five independent survey groups showed that Widodo has a clear election lead over the former general, Subianto. The so-called “quick counts” from reputable survey organizations that use a sample of polling stations have been reliable in past elections.
With 50% to 80% of sample polling stations counted, the survey organizations showed Widodo winning about 55% 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 fear-based rhetoric that predicted the country would fall apart without his strongman leadership.
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 of as much as 20 percentage points to Widodo and his running mate, conservative cleric Ma’ruf Amin, though analysts said the race was likely tighter.
“I’ve voted for Jokowi because five years in office was not enough for him to complete his brilliant programs for infrastructure, health and education,” said Eko Cahya Pratama, 43, after voting in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta.
“For me, this country is better to be managed by a man with a clean track record rather than a dirty one in the past,” he said.
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.
A strident nationalist, Subianto ran a fear-based campaign, highlighting what he sees as Indonesia’s weakness and the risk of exploitation by foreign powers or disintegration.
“He deserves to get my vote because I was impressed with his commitment to create a clean government and a great nation,” said Anneka Karoine, 43, after she and her husband voted for Subianto and his running mate, tycoon Sandiaga Uno. “I believe they will lead our country better than the current leader.”
Subianto voted not long after 8 a.m. in Bogor in West Java province, one of his strongholds of support, and told reporters he was confident of winning despite trailing in the polls.
“I promised that we will work for the good of the country,” he said. “If it’s chaos or not, it’s not coming from us. But I guarantee that we don’t want to be cheated anymore, that Indonesian people don’t want to be cheated anymore.”
Widodo, who voted in Jakarta, held up a finger dipped in inedible ink to show reporters and said his next stop was playing with his grandson and eating with his wife, Iriana Widodo.
Asked if he was feeling optimistic about the results of Wednesday’s vote, Widodo said: “Always. We should stay optimistic at work.”