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Indonesia in final stretch ahead of world’s biggest single-day election
Published on: Tuesday, February 13, 2024
By: Reuters, FMT
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Indonesia in final stretch ahead of world’s biggest single-day election
Workers arrange ballot boxes in readiness for tomorrow’s election at a stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP pic)
JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities are making final preparations ahead of tomorrow’s election, with around 25,000 police officers set to ensure security in a contest seen as a test of democratic gains made since the end of authoritarian rule 25 years ago.

Outgoing president Joko Widodo has presided over steady growth and relative stability in the past decade in the mineral-rich Group of 20 economy of 270 million people, establishing it as a future base for multinationals in the electric vehicle supply chain.

Still, Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi, has in the run-up to the Feb 14 presidential election faced criticism over his perceived political meddling and push to establish a political dynasty.

He has not explicitly endorsed any of the three presidential candidates but has made highly publicised appearances with controversial former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto, and his eldest son is running on the same ticket for vice-president.

Two opinion surveys last week projected defence minister Prabowo, who is making his third run to be president, could secure more than 50% of the votes tomorrow, allowing him to win in a single round.

Rivals Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo were seen at least 27 and 31 points behind him respectively.

Indonesia has entered a cooling-off period until voting day, with candidates barred from campaigning.

Running an election is a gargantuan task in Indonesia. The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands stretches across three time zones and a distance similar to across the US.

Election officials have delivered ballot boxes and papers to far-flung regions, in some cases travelling hours by boat, helicopter or ox-drawn carts.

The weather agency has warned about the risk of extreme weather in West Java on polling day, media reported. Meanwhile, the election commission has postponed voting in ten villages in the Karanganyar district in Central Java due to flooding.

Jokowi’s tacit backing of Prabowo has led to accusations he has flouted election rules, which he rejects.

In Indonesia, sitting presidents can campaign for candidates providing they do not use state resources and must take official leave to do so. Incumbents have typically been neutral.

The presidential office has denied political meddling by Jokowi.

Hundreds of students held noisy street protests yesterday to protest against what they see as democratic backsliding under Jokowi, a former furniture salesman who seemed to offer a clean break from the military and political elite.

In 1998, huge student protests fuelled unrest that led to the fall of former strongman leader Suharto and helped usher in democracy.

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