Indonesia votes today

Indonesians started voting today in areas across the archipelago in an election headlined by the race to succeed popular President Joko Widodo, whose influence could determine who takes the helm of the world’s third-largest democracy.

Nearly 259,000 candidates are contesting 20,600 posts across the archipelago of 17,000 islands in the world’s biggest single-day election, but all eyes are on the presidency and the fate of Widodo’s ambitious agenda after a decade in charge of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

The race pits two former governors, Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan, against controversial frontrunner Prabowo Subianto, a former special forces commander feared in the 1990s as a top lieutenant of Indonesia’s late strongman ruler Suharto, Reuters reported.

Defence Minister Prabowo is contesting his third election after twice losing to Widodo, better known as Jokowi, who is tacitly backing and betting on his former rival as a continuity candidate to preserve his legacy, including a role for his son as Prabowo’s running mate.

Two surveys showed Prabowo with 51.8% and 51.9% support, with Anies and Ganjar 27 and 31 points adrift, respectively. To win outright, a candidate needs over 50% of votes and to secure 20% of the ballot in half of the country’s provinces.

Candidates’ campaign focus

Anies has campaigned on promises of change and preventing a backsliding in the democratic reforms achieved in the 25 years since the end of Suharto’s authoritarian, kleptocratic rule.

Ganjar hails from Jokowi’s ruling party and has campaigned largely on continuing the president’s policies, but crucially is lacking his endorsement.

The 72-year-old Prabowo has cultivated a huge youth following on social media, owing to a rebrand that has transformed his image from a fiery-tempered nationalist and military hard man to a cuddly grandfather figure with awkward dance moves.

Flooding affecting polls

Polling was due to have started in Jakarta, though after big thunderstorms there were reports of flooding in parts of the capital. At one central Jakarta polling station, the opening was delayed as boxes were delivered and officials sworn in.

The extent of delays was not clear but Jakarta’s disaster management agency shared photographs of a flooded polling station as officials shifted voting materials to a safer location.

Earlier, the election commission said voting could be delayed in 10 villages in Central Java due to flooding.