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Indonesia, the World's Third Largest Democracy, Will Soon Know Who Its Next President Is

Leading Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo casts his ballot at a voting center. Photo by Ibnu Mardhani, Copyright @Demotix. (7/9/2014)

Leading Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo casts his ballot at a voting center. Photo by Ibnu Mardhani, Copyright @Demotix. (7/9/2014)

Indonesians are eagerly awaiting the results of the country's presidential election on July 9, 2014, described as one of the tightest and most divisive races in the young democracy's history. 

The outcome will be important not only for Indonesians but also for many people who have high hopes for the world's third largest democracy and the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. The election commission is set to announce the winner on July 22.

Leading the presidential race is the popular politician Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi), a former furniture businessman who became governor of Jakarta, the country's capital. His running mate is former Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

The other major presidential contender is Prabowo Subianto, a former Special Forces General and chairman of Gerindra (Great Indonesia Movement) Party. Although he is praised as a strong and courageous leader by his supporters, several human rights activists have expressed concern about his role during the regime of Suharto, who ruled Indonesia as a strongman for more than three decades.

The campaign lasted for one month. Although it was tainted by smear campaigns, bribery allegations, and minor clashes between the two contesting parties, the election turned out to be generally peaceful, orderly and even creative.

Online campaign

The Internet played a big role in this year's presidential election. Blogger Maulana Syuhada noted that the Internet was helpful in exposing numerous misleading information and other false reports about the polls. It also influenced many citizens to be more active in the election:

Pemilu sekarang ini memang sangat berbeda dengan pemilu-pemilu sebelumnya. Ada orang yang hampir tiga puluh tahun (6 kali pemilu) selalu golput, tiba-tiba memutuskan kali ini dia harus memilih. [...] Massa yang datang ke Gelora Bung Karno tanggal 5 Juli yang lalu sampai tumpah ruah bak air bah, membuat kita semua yang melihat merinding. Kenapa semua ini terjadi? Karena mereka “desperate”. Pemilu sekarang ini taruhannya terlalu besar. Bagi sebagian orang pilihannya adalah kembali ke masa lampau atau melompat ke masa depan.

The current election is different from the previous ones. There's someone who has not voted for nearly 30 years (six elections), but suddenly felt compelled to vote. [...] The mass gathering that filled up the Gelora Bung Karno stadium on the 5th of July gave goosebumps to all of us who watched it. Why did this happen? Because people are “desperate”. The stakes in this election are too high. For many, the choice is to return to the past or leap to the future.

Jokowi's camp came out as the ‘champion’ in terms of engaging voters through social media. But the Prabowo camp proved to be more popular on search engines.

Voters used the Twitter hashtags #salam2jari (two-finger salute), #jokowi9juli, #nogolput (no to non-voting) and #indonesiasatu (one Indonesia) to express their sentiments and to show their participation in the elections.

Some are proud of citizens who struggled hard to go to the voting center:

 *feeling moved* my blind mother for the first time encouraged herself to vote, so that her vote for #Jokowi9Juli won't disappear.

While others urged voters not to use the option of ‘non-voting’ in the ballots:

It's 7 a.m. and ballot officers are sworn in. Friends use your right to vote, enjoy the beauty of democracy.

Quick tally deadlock

About 12 survey agencies released quick tally results after the elections. The big survey firms predicted Jokowi's victory while the new ones declared Prabowo as the likely winner. The polarizing survey results raised fears that it could lead to intense fighting between supporters of the two major candidates.

Responding to this concern, the Ethical Board of the Indonesian Association for Public Opinion Surveys (Persepi) ordered a probe of the pollsters and it expelled those that were unwilling to be audited.

Twitter users also became worried about what would happen on the day when the General Election Committee (KPU) will announce Indonesia's new president in the next few days:

Let's pray for July 22, not about who'll win, but for a safe Indonesia. The military has put in place the highest alert status nationwide..

On his Facebook, Jokowi advised his supporters to remain calm:

Saya menghimbau dan meminta dengan sangat, kepada seluruh kader partai pendukung dan relawan Jokowi-JK di seluruh tanah air, agar tetap melaksanakan kegiatan sehari-hari sebagaimana biasa, dan tidak perlu menghadiri pengumuman rekapitulasi suara di KPU pusat pada tanggal 22 Juli. Kita percayakan semuanya pada proses yang sedang berlangsung, agar terbangun suasana yang kondusif bagi KPU, untuk menyelesaikan tugas dengan sebaik-baiknya, serta untuk menghindari hal-hal yang tidak kita inginkan. Saya ucapkan terima kasih dari lubuk hati yang paling dalam, atas segala upaya saudara-saudara untuk terlibat aktif dalam mengawal pemilu Indonesia yang damai.

I advise and urge all supporters and volunteers of the Jokowi-JK campaign nationwide to conduct your normal activities and not to attend the vote count announcement in the General Election Committee office on July 22nd. Let's leave everything to the normal process so that the KPU can work in a safe situation. I'd like to express my deepest gratitude to each one of you who have been actively involved in working for a peaceful Indonesian election.

Many Indonesians have been keeping a close watch on the official tally in the website of the KPU by comparing them with the numbers posted at Kawalpemilu.org (usher the election). The latter is a website developed by an Indonesian math Olympiad to ensure that the people can monitor realtime results collated by grassroots volunteers. Since its launch, the website has been hacked numerous times.

Proof of accuracy – compared with KPU data.

Meanwhile, the Tumblr account C1 yang Aneh (the odd C1 forms) has been uploading proof of voting irregularities on scanned C1 forms found by voters on the KPU website. C1 Form is an official KPU-issued document used in reporting the number of votes soon after they are counted by ballot officials. It has already posted over a dozen screen grabs that show missing vote numbers, absence of ballot witnesses, and other anomalies.

A blogger known as “Simple Servantsummarizes this year's election and how the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) can become a peacemaker between the rival parties:

Saya tetap melihat Prabowo sebagai alat Tuhan untuk memperbaiki kerusakan bangsa ini apapun sanggahan anda. Sebab memperbaiki bangsa ini bukan harus jadi Presiden. Sebagai Capres, Prabowo telah melakukan banyak hal positif yang kemudian membantu Jokowi untuk bekerja dengn mudah.[...] Yang masih bertengkar soal siapa yang akan menang di Pilpres, sudahi saja. Prabowo dan Jokowi telah bekerjasama memberikan perannya masing-masing untuk kebaikan bangsa kita. Soal bangsa kita akan damai atau rusuh paska 22 Juli, itu terserah SBY.

I still consider Prabowo as God's tool to restore this country, no matter how you deny it. Because to restore this country, one doesn't need to be a president. As a presidential candidate, Prabowo has already done many positive things [...] Those who are still arguing who will win this presidential election, stop. Prabowo and Jokowi, both have contributed for the good of this country. Whether or not our country will be at peace or rioting following the 22 July's announcement, it all depends on SBY.

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