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Indonesia election

Jokowi set to win second term as Indonesia president

Incumbent camp claims victory, but rival Prabowo disputes unofficial poll results

President Joko Widodo speaks after polls close for Indonesia's presidential election on Wednesday. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

JAKARTA -- Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is set to win a second term as the country's leader, with unofficial preliminary results from Wednesday's election projecting a victory over rival Prabowo Subianto.

Several polls show Widodo taking between 53% and 56% of the vote, with Subianto on 44%-47%. Some exit polls have been completed, while quick counts are ongoing with some having accounted for up to 98% of votes. The final tally will be announced by the General Elections Commission later this month or in May.

Widodo's camp claimed victory in a news release citing the president.

"Based on quick counts by credible pollsters, it shows that myself and [vice presidential candidate] Ma'ruf Amin are still entrusted by the people of Indonesia to become the president and the vice president of the Republic of Indonesia for the 2019-2024 period," the statement said.

Speaking earlier to supporters in Jakarta, a relaxed Widodo said: "Let's reunite after these legislative and presidential elections -- let's preserve our harmony and brotherhood as brothers and sisters of one nation and one homeland."

The projected Widodo win raises concerns that Subianto will challenge the result in court, as he did in 2014 when he lost to Widodo by six percentage points. Slamet Ma'arif of the FPI, a religious organization that supports the former general, said there will be a rally Friday in central Jakarta as a "thankful celebration" of Subianto's victory.

Subianto also claimed victory. In his usual fiery manner, he said that his camp's internal exit polls showed he won with 55.2% and quick count results put him at 52.2%. Even so, he urged his supporters to stay calm and to not be provoked into "anarchy."

"Keep focusing on safeguarding the vote counts, so that we can fight lies," he told supporters. "Do not get provoked at all, and avoid excessive actions outside the law."

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to the media after polls closed in Jakarta.    © Reuters

Denny Januar Ali of pollster LSI Denny JA said Widodo scored well among voters from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's biggest Muslim group, of which vice president candidate Ma'ruf Amin is a senior cleric. He also got a lot of support from religious minorities and the poor.

People on low incomes are "primary school or middle school graduates who don't know social media so they are not affected by social media conversations," Ali said. "They are satisfied with Jokowi's populist programs such as free land certificates" and universal health care coverage and subsidies for school tuition.

Widodo is Indonesia's first president from outside the nation's ruling elite. His rise to national prominence began in 2004 when he joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle. He was elected mayor of Solo in central Java the following year, serving for seven years before becoming governor of Jakarta in 2012. Two years later, his reformist and populist appeal won him the presidency in a country weary of the old guard with links to the late dictator Suharto.

Fast forward five years and Widodo's flagship infrastructure development push has proved popular in a nation frustrated with growing traffic congestion in big cities and businesses burdened by some of the highest logistics costs in Southeast Asia.

But the president has failed to keep previous campaign promises of structural reform, economic growth above 7% -- it hovers around 5% -- and settling past cases of human rights abuse. Moreover, his choice of a senior Muslim cleric as vice president to counter anti-Islam allegations has left many supporters disillusioned.

A Widodo win will likely mean more of the same for Southeast Asia's largest economy. He has promised to continue his signature infrastructure development, but with more focus on human resources, and pledged to push manufacturing, the digital economy, tourism and Shariah finance.

The Indonesian rupiah gained against the dollar after it became clear that Jokowi would likely win, momentarily passing the 14,000 mark for the first time since late February.

Anushka Shah, a senior sovereign risk analyst at Moody's Investors Service, said a second term for Widodo points to "an environment of policy continuity, with a renewed focus on some of the reforms that marked his first term, including development of infrastructure and human capital, and a gradual reduction of bureaucratic red tape."

"This policy mix has been supportive for investment and broader stability in growth," she said. "A stable growth environment will in turn foster financial market stability, which is crucial, given the high share of foreign ownership in the bond market."

Nikkei staff writers Bobby Nugroho and Ismi Damayanti in Jakarta contributed to this story.

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