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Global Geopolitical Series: Is Indonesia headed towards political trouble?

Indonesian Rupiah is up 0.32 percent for the day so far as the early count of Wednesday’s Presidential election shows that incumbent President Joko Widodo is set to rule for another five years. Indonesian benchmark stock index, Jakarta Composite is trading around 6520 area, up 0.62 percent for the day.

But these could be a short-lived victory as his main opponent Prabowo Subianto, the former son-in-law of Indonesia’s longtime autocratic ruler Suharto has claimed that according to his team’s internal calculations, he is set to win the Presidency and that with 55 percent of the votes. Speaking to reporters and supporters from his residence after the voting, Mr. Subianto claimed victory, “My fellow countrymen, this is a victory for the Indonesian people. All of the Indonesian people and I tell you here, that I will be the president for all Indonesians…….I will be and I already am the president of all Indonesians.”

It is clear that Mr. Subianto is not a man to accept defeat easily. If the results are close, we expect the former army general to first move the battle to court for recounts and fresh voting in several polling stations. The battle could then be settled in a legal fashion. In the worst case scenario, there could be major clashes between supporters of Mr. Widodo and Mr. Subianto, leading to political gridlock in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s election commission (KPU) has also warned both candidates to maintain public order and refrain from claiming victory before the official results are released but that is likely to fall into deaf ears if the result is close enough (victory margin less than 2 percent).

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