July 18, 2014, 12:26 p.m.
Indonesia held one of the world’s largest single day elections on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 to determine its next president. More than 190 million registered voters were eligible to vote at 480 thousand polling stations across the country. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and third largest democracy. It is also the Southeast Asia region’s largest economy and home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Official results from the race are due to be released by Indonesia’s General Election Commission (KPU) on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
Contending to replace the current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, are Joko Widodo (popularly known as “Jokowi”), who is the Governor of Jakarta and a former businessman and mayor; and Prabowo Subianto, who is a former special forces commander under President Suharto.
The candidates differ in their campaigning styles as well as their visions for the country. Jokowi, who campaigned at the grass-roots level emphasizing individual interactions with voters, is pushing for balanced economic growth with fair social policies and clean governance. Prabowo, whose campaign emphasized large rallies, is pushing for strong and decisive government. Both candidates have made battling corruption and improving the economy leading issues in their campaigns.
Election Day in Indonesia, the culmination of immense logistical planning across a vast and diverse nation, was smooth and nonviolent. Immediately following the election, the country’s electoral management bodies began the legally mandated process of manually counting all votes. This tabulation and recapitulation is conducted at several administrative levels over nearly two weeks before the national vote tabulation will be announced, sometime between July 20-22, 2014.
The complexity, the large number of people involved and the movement of ballots make this part of the electoral process vulnerable to administrative error or manipulation. The KPU aims to protect against manipulation by collecting key supporting documents used to compile results at each level and making these materials available online for public scrutiny. Such efforts are an important safeguard for the credibility of the final result.
During this period, the country has been speculating on the meaning of a dozen unofficial “quick count” polls conducted by private organizations which attempt to predict the winner of the election by collecting the voting results at a sampling of polling stations. Eight of the quick counts indicated a Jokowi victory and four other quick counts indicated a Prabowo victory. Under scrutiny now are the track records and motives of the quick count organizations. Although most of the organizations have sterling records in predicting the outcomes of previous elections and are independent, some others have strong biases toward one candidate and poor or incomplete records. Many of the organizations conducting quick counts contend that their sampling of polling stations provides a guarantee against manipulation of official vote tabulation.
The 2014 Indonesia Post-Election National Survey, a study conducted by IFES in the run-up to the presidential election, found that voters have confidence in the nation’s election process. The survey found that eighty-two percent of Indonesians were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with the voting process and procedures for the legislative elections which precede the presidential elections by three months. Furthermore, eighty percent of respondents thought the legislative elections were “very” or “somewhat organized”. When asked about the credibility of the outcomes, most respondents believed that election results were accurate.
This piece was also featured on ifes.org.