Arsianews, Jakarta – The Indonesians began voting on Wednesday in the world’s largest single-day election, with polling stations opening up across the vast tropical archipelago after a six-month campaign to elect a new president and parliament.
The eight-hour vote across the country, stretching more than 5,000 kilometers from its western edge to its eastern edge, is a logistical epic and testimony to the steadfastness of democracy two decades after the defeat of the regime.
President Joko Widodo, a former businessman who began his political career 14 years ago as mayor of a small city, is racing to re-election as a rival to former general Prabowo Subianto, whom the president won by a small margin in 2014.
Most opinion polls suggest Widodo is comfortably ahead, but opposition says competition is more intense, while Prabowo told a press conference late on Tuesday he expects to win 63 percent of the vote.
More than ten thousand people volunteered to monitor the results of the elections announced in polling stations in an effort to thwart attempts at forgery.
But the opposition has already claimed irregularities in voter lists that could affect millions, pledging to take legal action or use “people’s power” if its concerns are ignored.
About 350,000 police and military personnel joined 1.6 million security forces stationed across the country’s 17,000 islands to secure the vote.
More than 192 million voters cast their ballots in local and national legislative elections, in which more than 245,000 candidates are competing.
Polling stations opened at 7 am local time (2200 GMT Tuesday) on the eastern side of the country and closed at 1 pm (0600 GMT) on the west side.
The presidential candidate could be known by late on Wednesday. The election commission is expected to announce official results in May.