Indonesian elections Country prepares to go to the polls in worlds largest single day vote The In


Indonesian elections Country prepares to go to the polls in worlds largest single day vote The In Try Independent Minds free for 1 month Current president Joko Widodo strikes a positive tone, while opponentPrabowo Subiantoinsists country is being pillaged by foreigners and the elite Tens of millions of Indonesians will vote in presidential and parliamentary this week after campaigns focused on the economy, but with political Islam looming ever larger in the worlds biggest Muslim majority nation. , a former furniture salesman who launched his political career as a small city mayor, is standing for re election in a contest with ex general , whom he narrowly defeated in 2014. Most opinion polls give Mr Widodo a double digit lead, but the opposition has disputed survey findings and claimed it had uncovered data irregularities affecting millions on the electoral rolls The presidents opponents as vowed to take legal action or use people power if its complaints werenot resolved. Some analysts say an unexpected win for the challenger would probably cause a brief slump in Indonesian markets, while a very close race could elevate the risk of a disputed vote. In a scenario in which Mr Widodo wins by an unexpectedly narrow margin, large and prolonged protests in Jakarta would elevate tensions and pressure the currency, said Kevin ORourke of the Reformasi Weekly Service, which analyses Indonesian politics. While most polls have put the president ahead, the lead could not be taken for granted, a senior government official said. Absolutely everybody is flying blind because we dont know how far the opinion polls can be respected, added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr Widodo ended his six month campaign with a mass rally at Jakartas main stadium at the weekend, where festive crowds overflowed into a surrounding park and streets. Running ran out on stage in sneakers, to the cheers of the crowd after an hours long concert by local bands, he struck an optimistic tone for the future of the worlds third largest democracy. That was a stark contrast to his opponent, who has repeatedly warned Indonesia is on the verge of collapse. Mr Prabowo, as he is usually known, held a similarly big rally the previous weekend where supporters, many dressed in Islamic robes, held a mass prayer before a fiery speech about how Indonesia was being pillaged by foreigners and the elite. Mr Widodo has touted a record infrastructure drive and deregulation as major successes during his tenure, calling it a first step to tackle inequality and poverty in SoutheastAsias biggest economy. In a televised weekend debate, Mr Widodo and his running mate, Islamic cleric Maruf Amin, said their opponents, neither of whom has served in public office for more than a few months, did not understand managing macro level economics. Mr Widodo, a moderate Muslim from central Java, has had to burnish his Islamic credentials after smear campaigns and hoax stories accused him of being anti Islam, a communist or too close to China, all politically damaging in Indonesia. Mr Prabowo, who has close links to some hardline Islamist groups, and his running mate, business tycoon Sandiaga Uno, have pledged to boost the economy by slashing taxes as much as eight percentage points, and focus on key infrastructure projects. Nearly 500,000 police and military will fan out across the vast archipelago to safeguard the vote. In Jakarta, the capital, officers will guard polling station to deter voter intimidation or clashes, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. More than 192 million people will also vote in national and regional legislative elections, being contested by more than 245,000 candidates, in what is being described as the worlds biggest single day election. Overseas voting is already underway, with thousands lining up outside Indonesian missions in and . On Wednesday, polling stations will open at 7am 10pm GMT on Tuesday in eastern Indonesia and close at 1pm 6am GMT on the western side of the country. Voters will manually punch five separate paper ballots for president and vice president, and legislative candidates. Unofficial quick counts, based on vote samples from polling stations, will be released hours after polling ends and the winning presidential candidate is expected to be apparent by late Wednesday. The General Election Commission is expected to announce an official result in May. Candidates have 72 hours after the official result to complain to the Constitutional Court. A nine judge panel has 14 days to reach a decision, which cannot be appealed. 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