Jokowi Claims Win in Indonesia Vote as Challenger Disputes Tally

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesian President Joko Widodo has claimed victory in the country’s election, citing unofficial quick count results from Wednesday’s voting and setting the stage for a potential legal battle with his challenger Prabowo Subianto who’s disputed the tally.

Widodo, known as Jokowi, said the average of a dozen quick count surveys by independent pollsters gave him and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin 54.5 percent. The president, who had appealed to people on Wednesday to wait until the General Elections Commission announced the result, said there was no reason to doubt the quick counts results as they are scientific and have been 99 percent accurate in the previous elections.

Minutes after Jokowi claimed victory in a statement to reporters in Jakarta on Thursday, Prabowo reiterated his claim of securing 62 percent of the votes based on a quick count done by his own campaign team. The former general, who narrowly lost to Jokowi in 2014, said he has evidence of voting irregularities.

With both the contestants claiming victory, any legal challenge of the verdict will have to wait until the Election Commission announces official results. The authority is set to declare an official quick count based on samples of votes in the next week, before completing the manual counting of ballots by May 22.

Security Risks

The dispute over the election outcome may cast a shadow over the Jokowi administration and its ability to take decisions related to foreign direct investment, according to Achmad Sukarsono, an analyst Control Risks in Singapore. Businesses will also face security and operational risks as Prabowo’s supporters may start hitting the street from Friday, he said.

Jokowi sought to reach out to Prabowo, saying his relations with the former general and his running mate Sandiaga Uno won’t be broken. "I have sent a representative to meet with him so that we can communicate," Jokowi said.

Prabowo, whose legal challenge of his loss in the last election was dismissed by the country’s Constitutional Court, thanked his supporters and urged people to work together regardless of religion, ethnicity and race.

“We are declaring this early because we have evidence of cheating in villages and across regions in Indonesia,” Prabowo told reporters. “This is a long battle to win the fight, supported by the people. But don’t be arrogant over this victory. This is the time to tighten brotherhood so that we can mend the broken chain.”

‘Massive Cheating’

After his statement to reporters, he told Bloomberg: “We faced massive cheating and fraud on all levels. They used official agencies. They used security services. They used intimidation.”

Prabowo also dismissed speculations of any rift with Uno after his running mate failed to stand by his side at two public appearances on Wednesday. He was present at Prabowo’s media conference on Thursday evening.

Indonesia held its first simultaneous presidential and parliamentary election on Wednesday, with more than 245,000 candidates in fray for about 20,000 positions. The turnout was more than 80 percent of the 193 million people eligible to cast their votes.

The unofficial results sent the nation’s stocks, currency and bonds soaring on Thursday as investors bet the president may now economic reform in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.