Indonesia’s landmark election marks crucial race for Jokowi’s successor

Indonesians participate in a pivotal election, dominated by the contest to succeed President Joko Widodo amidst a race dominated by former governors and a controversial frontrunner.

Indonesians took to the polls on Wednesday across the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago in a high-stakes election dominated by the contest to succeed President Joko Widodo. With nearly 259,000 candidates vying for 20,600 positions, this election stands as the world’s largest single-day electoral event.

While various posts are up for grabs, all eyes are on the presidency and the future of President Widodo’s ambitious plans, including positioning Indonesia as a hub for electric vehicles and executing a massive infrastructure overhaul, including relocating the capital city with a multi-billion dollar investment.


The battle to replace Widodo, fondly known as Jokowi, features two former governors, Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan, challenging the controversial frontrunner, Prabowo Subianto. Prabowo, a former special forces commander with a contentious past, is remembered as a key figure during Indonesia’s authoritarian era under President Suharto.

Initial surveys indicate Prabowo’s potential victory, with projections showing him leading with over 50% support, avoiding the need for a second round. However, the final outcome hinges on securing a majority across the diverse Indonesian provinces.

As Indonesians cast their ballots, many express desires for continuity, hoping for leaders who will uphold existing policies rather than initiating drastic changes. However, the election also serves as a platform for candidates to address pressing issues such as infrastructure development, education, and justice reform.

The voting process faced initial challenges, with thunderstorms causing disruptions in some areas, but overall turnout is expected to be high, traditionally averaging around 75% in past elections.

Former Jakarta governor Anies and ex-Central Java governor Ganjar appeal to undecided voters, aiming to force a potential runoff in June between the top two contenders. Both candidates advocate for fair and transparent elections, emphasizing the importance of upholding democratic principles.

Defence Minister Prabowo expressed hope for a smooth voting process, marking his third bid for the presidency after previous unsuccessful attempts against Jokowi. Prabowo’s rebranding efforts, showcasing a softer and more approachable persona, resonate with younger voters, who make up a significant portion of the electorate.

However, allegations of electoral interference and concerns about succession neutrality linger, particularly regarding Jokowi’s perceived support for Prabowo and allegations of favouritism towards his own son’s vice-presidential bid.

Amidst these complexities, Indonesia navigates a pivotal moment in its democratic journey, with the outcome of this election poised to shape the nation’s trajectory for years to come.