Millions head to polls in Indonesia, world's third-largest democracy

As millions cast their votes in Indonesia, over 5.7 million election workers will staff the polling stations. (Photo/AFP)

Polls have opened in Indonesia as the country begins choosing a president and legislature in the world’s third-largest democracy.

The incumbent Indonesian defense minister and two former governors are vying to succeed the widely popular President Joko Widodo.

The voting in a vast archipelago of 17,000 islands sprawled across three time zones, with a population of 270 million. Polls open at 7 a.m. local time in each time zone and the first region began voting at 22:00 GMT.

Aside from the presidency, about 20,000 national, provincial and district parliamentary posts would be contested by tens of thousands of candidates. About 10,000 hopefuls from 18 political parties are eyeing the national parliament’s 580 seats alone.

A triangular contest

The presidency is being contested by Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and two former provincial governors, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo.

Subianto, the front-runner based on several independent surveys, has picked Widodo’s eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as his vice-presidential running mate.

Polls show the 72-year-old Subianto ahead of his two rivals, though perhaps not with the majority needed to avoid a runoff. While he is the oldest candidate, his running mate is the youngest: 36-year-old Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka. Subianto has vowed to continue Widodo’s economic development plan.

Baswedan, the former head of an Islamic university, served as governor of Jakarta until last year. A former Fulbright scholar, Baswedan had been education and culture minister from 2014 to 2016.

Pranowo is the governing party candidate, but does not have the support of Widodo. He was a national legislator for the governing Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle for 10 years before being elected in 2013 for the first of two terms as Central Java governor.

More than 5.7 million election workers will man polling stations. Seats are up for grabs from district level to national parliamentary seats and the presidency.

Official results are not expected until March, but so-called "quick counts" are expected to give a reliable indication of the winner later Wednesday.


Source: TRT