Muslim Majority Indonesia Set To Vote In Its Biggest-ever Poll
Jakarta, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2019 ) :Indonesia kicks off one of the world's biggest one-day elections Wednesday, pitting president Joko Widodo against ex-general Prabowo Subianto in a race to lead the Muslim majority nation.
More than 190 million Indonesians are set to cast a ballot with the vote kicking off at 7:00 am local time (2200 GMT Tuesday) in restive Papua and ending at 1:00 pm (0600 GMT) in Sumatra at the other end of the volcano-dotted archipelago.
Opinion polls show Widodo, 57, is a clear favourite -- but he faces a tough challenge from Subianto, 67, who has leaned on a fiery nationalist ticket and warned he will challenge the results over voter-list irregularities if he loses.
Subianto narrowly lost to Widodo in 2014 elections, and unsuccessfully challenged those results.
Voters will flock to more than 800,000 polling stations where they'll punch holes in ballots -- to make clear their candidate choice -- and then dip a finger in Muslim-approved halal ink, a measure to prevent double-voting in a graft-riddled country where ballot buying is rife.
The polls present a huge logistical challenge in a country stretching 4,800 kilometres across more than 17,000 islands with a population of more than 260 million, including hundreds of ethnic groups and languages.
Officials are moving cardboard ballot boxes by motorbikes, boats and planes -- as well as elephants and horses -- to reach mountaintop villages and communities deep in the jungle.
A series of so-called "quick counts" are expected to give a reliable indication of the presidential winner later Wednesday.
Official results are not expected until May.
Widodo has campaigned on his ambitious drive to build much-needed roads, airports and other infrastructure across Southeast Asia's largest economy.
But his rights record has been criticised owing to an uptick in discriminatory attacks on religious and other minorities, including a small LGBT community, as Islamic hardliners become more vocal in public life.
Raised in a bamboo shack in a riverside slum, the soft-spoken Widodo stands in stark contrast to Subianto, whose strongman image is underscored by a penchant for slamming lecterns as he accuses Jakarta of selling the country off to foreign interests.
Subianto -- joined by running mate Sandiaga Uno, a 49-year-old wealthy financier -- has courted Islamic hardliners, promised a boost to military and defence spending and, taking a page from US President Donald Trump, vowed to put "Indonesia first" by reviewing billions of Dollars in Chinese investment.
Subianto's long-held presidential ambitions have been dogged by strong ties to the Suharto family and a chequered past.