What is Joko Widodo’s Role in Indonesia’s Election?

What is Joko Widodo’s Role in Indonesia’s Election?



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Prabowo Subianto was ejected from the military on accusations of rights abuses. Now, he is projected to win Indonesia’s presidency outright in the first round.

A man holding up his ballot in a polling station. Around him are other people also working on their ballots, which they will drop in big paper boxes.
Prabowo Subianto, who is expected to become Indonesia’s next president, voting in Bogor on Wednesday.Credit…Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Indonesia’s defense minister, a feared former general who was removed from the army after he was found responsible for the kidnapping of political dissidents, appeared on track to winning the presidential election outright on Wednesday, casting doubts on the future of one of the world’s most vibrant democracies.

The candidate, Prabowo Subianto, had a commanding lead in the three-way race for president, with more than 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies that have a history of accurately predicting the final results. The two other presidential candidates said it was too early to declare a winner.

If the projections are confirmed, Indonesia — the world’s third-largest democracy — will be left contending with a president who has said that the country needs neither elections nor democracy, who was barred from entering the United States for two decades because of his human rights record, and who was long associated with Indonesia’s former dictator, Suharto. The era of liberty that followed the ouster of Suharto, critics say, could now be under threat with Mr. Prabowo’s ascent to power.

The election in Indonesia matters far beyond its borders. The world’s fourth-most-populous country, it is of growing strategic importance to both the United States and China. Indonesia is one of the world’s top producers of coal, palm oil and nickel, and it sits atop the supply chains of many international companies. All of that means it will have a major bearing on the future of the climate change crisis, as well.

Mr. Prabowo has coveted the presidency for decades and has tried on different public personas to court voters. But what finally pushed him over the line was the implicit support of the popular outgoing president, Joko Widodo, whose son Gibran Rakabuming Raka is Mr. Prabowo’s running mate.


Gibran Rakabuming Raka and his wife, Selvi Ananda, at a polling station in Solo City on Wednesday. Mr. Gibran, the son of President Joko Widodo, was Mr. Prabowo’s running mate.Credit…Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

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