After a controversial outcome in the presidential election on Wednesday, resulting in two-self proclaimed winners, both candidates were summoned to the private residence of the outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The presidential election was expected to be tight, but few imagined that both candidates would claim victory.
Just hours after polls closed in the world’s third largest democracy, frontrunner Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, gave a televised address to declare himself the winner.
Indonesia Presidential Candidates Bio Box
- Governor of Jakarta
- Presidential candidate for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle
- Known by nickname Jokowi
- Former mayor of Solo in Java
- Known for 'blusukan' impromptu stops and visits
- Former army general
- Coalition of parties backing him as presidential candidate
- Founded the Gerindra party
- Accused of human rights abuses in East Timor
- Son-in-law of late longtime dictator Suharto
Within the hour, opponent Prabowo Subianto also announced himself victorious in a public address. Both candidates based their claims on conflicting quick counts, a nationwide sample of votes counted after the polls.
Calls for calm, restraint
President Yudhoyono called for calm, asking the public to refrain from mass public gatherings, and summoned the two men for talks.
On Twitter, Yudhoyono said he met both men and urged them to not mobilize followers for victory celebrations until official results are released on July 22.
Analysts say that numerous quick counts by reputable pollsters point to a Widodo win, while those that came up with Subianto on top are considered less credible.
However Subianto, a former army general and son-law of former dictator Suharto, has refused to concede, saying he will wait for the official results on July 22.
Paul Rowland, a Jakarta-based analyst for Reformasi Weekly, said the most credible results have Widodo in the lead. He tells VOA that the quick counts are generally a good indicator of the vote's outcome.
"We've been tracking eight different quick counts that have results all within two percentage points of each other - there's a range of 2 percent, top and bottom, for each of the candidates," Rowland said.
"All of those have used a different sample of 2,000 or 4,000 polling stations, so you're looking at close to 20,000 polling stations that have been sampled, and that would represent hundreds of thousands of voters. So it's an extremely accurate methodology if it's done properly," he added.
Rowland said some surveys show a victory for Subianto, but he said three of these are from agencies that have never before done a quick count, and are therefore less reliable.
Credibility of pollsters
According to political analyst Aleksius Jemadu, it is likely to get harder for Subianto to continue to deny the credibility of the majority of the quick counts in the coming days.
“I don't think Prabowo [Subianto] is going to insist on the declaration that he made yesterday. Things will change,” said Jemadu.
The quick counts that have produced a result in Widodo’s favor have been accurate in the past.
On Thursday, the Indonesian Survey and Public Opinion Association announced the two polling institutes that produced conflicting results will be audited.
The pollsters will be required to publically declare their methodology and provide information about their funding.
It remains to be seen to what extent Subianto will fight the result. Some say he could take the dispute to the Constitutional Court.
Speaking at a polling station yesterday, Annie Wong, a voter in South Jakarta, said that after such a build up she hoped the country would accept the result either way to avoid any unrest.
“This is very exciting, everyone knows who they want to vote [for]. This is a good day for Indonesian actually. Whoever is going to be elected president I think we have to support him. ... Hopefully with the calculations, will the poll, everything will go smooth, no riots, no clashes, no demonstrations,” Wong said.
Wednesday’s election, a huge logistical effort with some 190 million registered voters across thousands of islands with a total population of 247 million, was not marred by any reports of unrest of violence.
Around 250,000 police and 30,000 soldiers were mobilized for the vote, which went smoothly. Forces remained on standby on Thursday, in case of unrest.
But for now, the country waits anxiously for the official results to be released in the coming weeks.
Many residents in Jakarta, such as Bagus Nugroho, said they are confident the dispute will be resolved.
"Whoever, between the two of them, becomes the president is the choice of the people. What we hope is that they can improve the economy, society, politics and culture," Nugroho said.
Despite the uncertainty, investors appear confident of a Widodo victory.
The Jakarta Stock Exchange surged more than 2 percent on Thursday. Indonesia's currency, the rupiah, also rose to a seven-week high against the dollar.
The 53-year-old Widodo is an ex-furniture entrepreneur seen by many as a reformer and a rare candidate without links to Indonesia's longtime dictator, Suharto, who was ousted in 1998 and died ten years later.
Subianto campaigned on a strong nationalist platform.
Many are concerned he will steer the country in an authoritarian direction, since he is accused of rights abuses, including overseeing the arrest of democracy activists, during his time as an army general.
In Washington, a White House statement congratulated the Indonesian people on completing what it called "their historic presidential election."
It said President Barack Obama looks forward to continued close ties with the new leader of Indonesia.
Even if Subianto is announced as the loser on July 22, he could still challenge results, meaning the world's third largest democracy could be in for an extended period of political uncertainty.