Sunday, September 24, 2023

Indonesia Sees Record Turnout in Historic Election, Braces for Fallout

April 17, 2019 | 4:21 pm
Polling station officials don superhero costumes in Surabaya, East Java, on Wednesday (17/04). (Antara Foto/Zabur Karuru)
Polling station officials don superhero costumes in Surabaya, East Java, on Wednesday (17/04). (Antara Foto/Zabur Karuru)

Jakarta. Over 154 million registered voters are estimated to have cast their votes in Indonesia's presidential and legislative elections on Wednesday (17/04), putting a temporary stop to the increasing trend of absenteeism in Indonesian elections over the past decade.

The turnout rate for the elections was up at 80 percent, according to pollster Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC).

This was higher than the 69 percent for the presidential election and 75 percent for the legislative election in 2014.

This year is the first time the country hold its presidential and legislative election simultaneously.

Absenteeism, better known as "Golput" ("the White Group") in Indonesia, has a deep root in resistance movements against the Suharto dictatorship, and had been on the rise since Indonesia held its first direct presidential election in 2004.

25 percent of voters went Golput in 2004 and the number went up to 28 percent in 2009.  

This year, however, the government conducted a massive campaign to counter Golput.

Joko "Jokowi" Widodo benefits from Golput's fall as rival Prabowo Subianto tried to use absenteeism to dig holes into the incumbent's support base.

The increase in voter turnout was reflected on the eerily empty streets of the capital Jakarta on Wednesday.

Main thoroughfares Jalan Gatot Subroto and Jalan Sudirman in South Jakarta and Jalan Thamrin in Central Jakarta were practically bare throughout the day.

Indonesia Sees Record Turnout in Historic Election, Braces for Fallout
Empty roads in Jakarta as residents cast their votes in the presidential and legislative elections on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Calm in the Balance

Police reported no major incidents during the election in the capital but call for residents to remain vigilant.

"We have not found anything out of order. Hopefully, this continues," Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said on Wednesday.

Argo said the Indonesian Military, the National Police and the Jakarta provincial government will continue to monitor the vote-counting process and escort ballot boxes to the General Elections Commission (KPU) office in Central Jakarta.

"Safety measures will continue until tomorrow, from [voting process in] subdistricts until the delivery [of the ballot boxes] to the KPU," Argo said.

He urged Greater Jakarta residents to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of election day.

"After voting, make good use of the holiday and spend time with your family. Let's keep this peace," he said.

Tensions may still spark with Prabowo refusing to concede and claiming a win by 62 percent of the votes. He also called on his supporters to watch out for voting frauds and vote tampering.

"I will become the president for all Indonesian people. Those of you who supported [Jokowi], you will still be protected by me. I will and have become the president of Indonesia. This is a win for Indonesia, a fair and prosperous Indonesia. Indonesia is respected by the world. Indonesia will no longer be hungry, we can all smile now," Prabowo said.

While quick count results have put Jokowi on an unassailable double-digit lead over his rival, the KPU will only announce the official results on May 22.   

According to pollster SMRC, Jokowi won 54.8 percent of the votes and Prabowo trailed with 45.2 percent. The pollster reported a margin of error of 0.47 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.


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