Jokowi wins Indonesian election, exit polls show: experts respond

Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, pictured with wife Iriana, is in the box seat to be Indonesia’s next president. AAP/Eka Nickmatulhuda

Jakarta governor Joko Widodo appears to have won Indonesia’s presidential election in a quick count jointly released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Cyrus.

Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, and vice-presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla won 52% of votes compared to 48% for former general Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, according to the CSIS-Cyrus quick count.

While CSIS-Cyrus data shows victory for Jokowi, Prabowo has also claimed that he won the election. TV One, a pro-Prabowo television network, shows poll results that are favorable to him.

Prior to releasing their quick count analysis, CSIS-Cyrus released their exit poll data that shows Jokowi winning 45.17% votes compared 42.15% for Prabowo. The margin of error for the exit poll was 1.1%.

Indonesians voted today to elect their seventh president. The polls closed at 1pm (4pm AEST). This is the third direct presidential election after the fall of the New Order regime 16 years ago.

Phillips Vermonte, head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at CSIS, said the exit poll data shows Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla will win the presidential election by a 3% margin.

Jokowi and Prabowo were tied in Banten, he said. Prabowo won in West Java, while Jokowi won in Central and East Java. The island of Java was a key battleground for both candidates because it has the most voters.

“Jokowi also leads in Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Joko Widodo’s running mate, Jusuf Kalla, originated from Sulawesi and has a big influence there. We have not yet received data from the island of Sumatra,” Mr Vermonte said.

“Around 10% of our respondents kept their choice secret and 2% refused to answer. There are two reasons for this. First, Indonesian people have a long-standing political culture in which people do not publicly express their political preference. People seemed to strongly hold the election principles of direct, general, free and confidential. Second, there is a possibility that in some areas there is fear of intimidation. People also worry about being a social outcast if they do not conform to the people around them.”

The Indonesia Election Commission will announce the final result on July 22.

Expert responses follow.

Why Jokowi won

Sri Budi Eko Wardani, executive director of Centre for Political Studies at University of Indonesia

Joko Widodo’s exit poll win shows three things: a failure of the Gerindra coalition, the victory of pluralism, and middle-class support for Joko Widodo.

First, Joko Widodo’s win shows that the coalition factor does not work. We see that Prabowo Subianto has more parties in his Gerindra coalition, giving them control of more than half of the parliament seats. But this big political machinery does not significantly help Prabowo’s chances.

Second, Jokowi’s win shows that more people vote for the pluralist image (by a slim margin). During the campaign, Prabowo presents himself to represent the Muslim community, while Jokowi represents pluralism. Both camps really played on these claims.

On Prabowo’s side, it was effective in increasing his popularity. Voters who identify more with Islam - such as constituents of the Islamic parties Prosperous Justice Party, The Crescent Star Party and the United Development Party - contributed significant votes for Prabowo. However, voters who identify themselves to be part of a pluralist society, including Muslim voters, voted for Jokowi. This is reflected in the result.

Third, the middle-class people who have access to information and can read behind the negative campaign contributed a lot to Joko Widodo’s victory. They are Jokowi’s lucky factor.

Good sign for Indonesia’s democracy

Yohanes Sulaiman, Lecturer in International Relations and Political Science at Indonesian Defence University

The victory for Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla is a good step for Indonesia’s democracy as long as we have a peaceful transition. Even though Prabowo is contesting Jokowi’s victory claims, his willingness to contest the declaration of Jokowi’s victory peacefully can be seen as a great sign for Indonesia’s democracy. It means both candidates actually believe the election and the institutions supporting it are legitimate.

Should Jokowi win there will be tension between him and the army in the first couple of months of his presidency. If we look at how Jokowi operates, he focuses more on efficiency. For example, in the presidential debate he questioned the purchase of military tanks.

In the end, I think, Jokowi would try to find a middle ground between himself and the military. If Jokowi is successful in his defence policy, it will cement the supremacy of civilian government over the military in Indonesia.

On foreign policy, Jokowi will not be a strong global and regional leader. He will focus more on domestic politics. Jokowi does not really care about what is going on out there. He was elected in Indonesia by Indonesians to lead Indonesians.

We will probably see a continuity with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s foreign policy. This might not be a really good strategy because there are times that we actually need to act strong.

For instance, to settle the dispute with China in the South China Sea, the Philippines is inviting the US to be involved. This is actually against Indonesia’s interest. Indonesia’s interest was to create the ASEAN zone free from foreign interference, notably from China and the US.

Hopes and challenges for religious freedom in Indonesia

Ihsan Ali-Fauzi, Director of Center for the Study of Religion and Democracy at Paramadina University

Joko Widodo’s presidency promises a new hope to religious freedom. Even though there are many challenges, he is expected to protect religious freedom better than outgoing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). During SBY’s tenure, Indonesia saw attacks against religious minority groups such as Ahmadiyah, Shia, and Christians across Indonesia.

Jokowi’s position on religious freedom is clear. As Jakarta governor he defended the Christian district head Susan Jasmin when radical Muslims attacked her position. His collaboration with his deputy governor Basuki “Ahok” Ahmad, who is Christian and of Chinese descent, shows his support for pluralism. Previously as mayor of Solo, he managed to decrease violence carried out in the name of Islam.

Jokowi’s support for pluralism is also shown through his supporters. Besides the PDI-P and National Democratic party that firmly stands for Indonesia’s pluralism, he is also supported by the National Awakening Party, whose base is the biggest moderate Islamic organisation in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama. Outside party lines, Jokowi is also supported by defenders of pluralism, such as Islamic scholars Quraish Shihab and Buya Syafii Maarif, poet Goenawan Mohamad, and others.

But Jokowi will face challenges in translating his good intentions into policy. With only 37% support in the parliament, passing any legislation will not be easy for him. It will be difficult for him under Indonesia’s decentralised system to tackle the increasing Sharia-based by-laws in various regions in Indonesia. It will also be difficult to rescind the 1965 blasphemy law that has been used to persecute religious minority groups in Indonesia.

To protect minority groups, Jokowi should only appoint figures that have zero tolerance to violence against religious groups as his Home Minister, Religious Minister and police chief.