A glance at presidential election in Indonesia

Indonesian voters flocked to polling stations for only the third time the world's fourth-most populous nation has directly elected their leader. (Reuters)
July 9

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Some 190 million voters headed to the polls Wednesday in a hotly contested election for president in Indonesia. The race is pitting Jakarta Gov. Joko “Jokowi” Widodo against former military general Prabowo Subianto. Here’s some facts about the country, and why this election matters.

— Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy and home to around 240 million people. Wednesday’s vote marks the third direct presidential elections since former dictator Suharto was overthrown after 30 years of brutal rule.

— The archipelago of some 17,000 islands has the world’s fourth-largest population and is the most populous Muslim country, where a tolerant form of Islam has worked well with its freewheeling style of democracy.

— Incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has served two terms, lasting 10 years and is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.


Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo, popularly known as “Jokowi”, left, accompanied by his wife Iriana, casts his ballot during the presidential election in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. As the world’s third-largest democracy began voting Wednesday to elect a new president, Indonesians are divided between two very different choices: a one-time furniture maker, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, and a wealthy ex-army general with close links to former dictator Suharto, Prabowo Subianto. (Dita Alangkara/Associated Press)

— Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy, and a member of the G-20 group. It is also an important player with strong political and economic connections in Asia and beyond, including close ties to the United States.

— Widodo had a slight lead over Subianto going into the elections, but analysts predict that undecided voters will determine the outcome.

— Widodo is a former furniture maker turned politician who comes from humble roots and has become popular as a “man of the people” through his ability to connect with the poor.

— Subianto is an ex-army general and Suharto’s former son-in-law. He is accused of widespread human rights abuses, including ordering the abductions of pro-democracy activists prior to Suharto’s fall. He has surged forward in the polls by wooing legions of supporters with his calls for nationalism and a strong government.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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