Both sides claim victory in Indonesia election race

Both sides claim victory in Indonesia election race

Both sides claim victory in Indonesia election race

Presidential candidate Widodo (L) gestures with former President Sukarnoputri during a press conference.

Both sides claimed victory July 9 in Indonesia’s tightest and most divisive presidential election since the end of authoritarian rule, as unofficial tallies showed Jakarta governor Joko Widodo leading ex-general Prabowo Subianto.

Widodo, the first serious presidential contender without roots in the era of dictator Suharto, declared victory in the world’s third largest democracy after the tallies from reliable polling agencies showed him leading by four to five percentage points.

But shortly afterwards Prabowo, who has admitted human rights abuses during the Suharto era and was formerly married to one of the strongman’s daughters, also claimed victory.

It was an unprecedented standoff in Indonesia since Suharto’s downfall in 1998. The only two other direct presidential elections since then were won resoundingly by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The unofficial tallies that Widodo’s party relied on, known as “quick counts,” have accurately predicted the winner of previous elections.

However official results are not due for around two weeks, due to the complexity of holding elections across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that spans three time zones. Widodo shot to national prominence when he was elected Jakarta governor in 2012, and quickly won legions of fans with his common touch and efforts to solve the capital’s myriad problems.