A man shows his inked finger after voting during the election at a polling station in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Polls closed in Indonesia today in elections for president and parliament after a campaign across the sprawling equatorial archipelago that was dominated by economic issues but also marked by the growing influence of conservative Islam.
The eight-hour vote across a country that stretches more than 5,000 km (3,000 miles) from its western to eastern tips was both a Herculean logistical feat and testimony to the resilience of democracy two decades after authoritarianism was defeated.
Indonesians voted Wednesday in the world's biggest direct presidential election, choosing between incumbent president Joko Widodo and former general Prabowo Subianto, who has played to nationalist, conservative forces and the poor as he once again makes a play for top office.
Opinion polls showed Widodo with lead as large as 20 percentage points over his challenger Prabowo Subianto, though analysts say the race is likely tighter.
Widodo, dressed in a white shirt and accompanied by First Lady Iriana Widodo, voted in the capital.
Preliminary results based on so-called "quick counts" as votes are publicly tallied at polling stations were expected to start rolling in within two hours of the final poll closings.
The official election results will not be published until May. Any disputes can be taken to the Constitutional Court where a nine-judge panel will have 14 days to rule on them.
These numbers are based on snapshots of actual votes from more than 800,000 polling stations across the country - the margin of error depends on the sample size, though the consensus of these polls has proven accurate in the past.
However, the opposition has already alleged voter list irregularities that could affect millions and has vowed legal or "people power" action if its concerns are ignored.
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A quick count conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Cyrus Network indicates that Jokowi has been reelected to the presidency, with the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin ticket winning 55.8 percent of the vote against Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno's 44.2 percent as of 5:48 p.m., when data from 90 percent of the surveyed polling stations had been received.
"The presidential election is not a war, but a search for the best leader", Kompas TV cited him as saying.
Across 17,000 islands, from the jungles of Borneo to the slums of Jakarta, millions of Indonesians were going to the polls Wednesday in one of the world's biggest exercises in democracy.
Ayu Dyah Widarti, a volunteer for Jokowi, spent her morning cycling around various polling stations in south Jakarta to check on the voting process.
"The ballots with the photos on it were actually confusing".
"We will wait", he said. Among them was Ruth Ogetay, 34, a women's rights activist for Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province that sees frequent violence in response to its calls for independence.
Widodo campaigned on his record of deregulation and improving infrastructure, calling his first term a step to tackling inequality and poverty in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
"I hope in future prices of staple foods will be cheaper, especially as we are heading into Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr", said Nurani, a 41-year-old mother of three, voting in Bandar Lampung in Sumatra.
But despite being the world's most populous Muslim nation, the third-largest democracy and a member of the Group of 20 major economies, Indonesia has a low profile on the world stage.
Widodo, a moderate Muslim from Java island, 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. He picked Islamic cleric Amin, 76, as his running mate.
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