Defence minister Subianto claims victory in Indonesia’s presidential election

14 February 2024, 14:14

Prabowo Subianto
Indonesia Election. Picture: PA

He holds a commanding lead in early, unofficial tallies in the three-way race to succeed Joko Widodo.

Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto has claimed victory in the presidential election, based on unofficial tallies.

There was no declaration by electoral officials and his opponents have not conceded.

Mr Subianto has held a commanding lead in early, unofficial tallies of the three-way race to lead the world’s third-largest democracy.

The 72-year-old candidate is a link to the brutal period of dictatorship that ended just over 25 years ago, when he served as a special forces commander in a unit linked to torture and disappearances, allegations that Mr Subianto denies.

He has presented himself as an heir to immensely popular sitting President Joko Widodo, whose son he chose as his running mate.

According to early, unofficial tallies conducted by Indonesian polling agencies, Mr Subianto had between 57% and 59% of votes, with more than 80% of the vote counted in polling places sampled.

Candidate and his running mate
Mr Subianto’s running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka is the eldest son of current President Joko Widodo (AP)

Mr Subianto, who was once banned by the United States from entering for two decades due to his human rights record, told thousands of supporters in a sports stadium in the capital, Jakarta, that the victory, according to an early, unofficial “quick count,” was “the victory of all Indonesians”.

He was an army general during the brutal period of the Suharto dictatorship that ended just over 25 years ago.

According to the unofficial tallies conducted by Indonesian polling agencies, Mr Subianto had between 57% and 59% of votes, with more than 80% of the vote counted in polling places sampled.

The quick counts are based on the actual vote count at a sample of polling stations across Indonesia. The laborious official count may not be finished for up to a month, but quick counts have provided an accurate picture of the results of all four presidential elections held in Indonesia since it began direct voting in 2004.

Indonesia Election
The final official count could be weeks away (AP)

“We are grateful for the quick count results,” Mr Subianto said in the speech, broadcast on national television.

“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.”

To avoid a run-off against his rivals, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo, Mr Subianto needs more than 50% of all votes cast and at least 20% in each of the country’s provinces.

Mr Subianto has presented himself as an heir to immensely popular sitting President Joko Widodo, whose son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, he chose as his running mate.

Joko Widodo
Joko Widodo is an immensely popular President (AP)

Mr Widodo’s successor will inherit an economy with impressive growth and ambitious infrastructure projects, including the ongoing transfer of the nation’s capital from congested Jakarta to the frontier island of Borneo at a staggering cost exceeding 30 billion dollars (£23.7 billion).

The election also has high stakes for the United States and China, since Indonesia has a huge domestic market, natural resources like nickel and palm oil, and diplomatic influence with its south-east Asian neighbours.

Mr Widodo’s rise from a riverside slum to the presidency has shown the vibrancy of Indonesia’s democracy in a region rife with authoritarian regimes.

But with a leading candidate linked to a former dictator, and Mr Widodo’s son on the ballot, some observers fear that democracy is eroding.

Mr Subianto, the oldest presidential candidate at 72, lost in two previous runs to Mr Widodo but was the front-runner in independent surveys. His running mate, Mr Raka, was allowed to run when the Constitutional Court made an exception to the minimum age requirement of 40.

The court was then headed by Mr Widodo’s brother-in-law, who was removed by an ethics panel for not recusing himself, and Mr Widodo was accused of favouritism and nepotism.

By Press Association

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