President Joko Widodo of Indonesia has succeeded in his bid for re-election, according to a full vote count released by the country’s election commission, in a repudiation of the nationalist and faith politics that have brought strongmen to power across the globe. 

The President, best known by his moniker Jokowi, won 55.5 per cent of the votes against his opponent’s 44.5 per cent, according to the final tally of ballots announced in the wee hours of Tuesday (May 21) morning by the elections commission (KPU). Mr Joko Widodo and his vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin received 85,607,362 of the votes, or 11 percentage points more than the 68,650,239 votes cast for Mr Prabowo and his running-mate Sandiaga Uno, said KPU commissioner Evi Novida Ginting Manik after an extended plenary meeting. Around 32,000 security personnel were deployed across the capital, Jakarta, AFP news agency reports. Mr Prabowo, 67, has not yet confirmed if he will challenge the result in court.


Joko Widodo

Mr. Joko, 57, a moderate technocrat with an enthusiasm for infrastructure projects and a reputation for celebrating Indonesia’s religious and ethnic diversity, was accused by supporters of Mr. Prabowo of being a secret Christian who was selling the country to foreign investors.

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What’s the situation on the ground?

Authorities have appealed for calm and increased security measures in a bid to manage tensions. Security personnel have been stationed in front of the election commission’s office, backed by razor wire and water cannon. Police said they had arrested dozens of suspected terrorists with alleged links to Islamic State (IS), some of whom had planned to bomb political rallies when the vote result was released. The US embassy issued a travel warning advising its citizens in Indonesia to avoid demonstrations and political gatherings. Still, tens of thousands are expected to throng the streets around the KPU in downtown Jakarta to join a rally planned at the time when Muslim break their fast on Ramadan.

Mr. Joko’s strongest showing came in areas of the country with large populations of religious minority groups, like the tourist island Bali, which is majority Hindu, and Papua, a province with a large population of Christians and animists. “We need to continue with a leader who unites all religions and all races of Indonesia,” said Wayan Koster, the governor of Bali. By contrast, in Aceh, a region where Shariah law is instituted and people have been whipped by the local authorities for gay sex and adultery, Mr. Joko captured only about 14 percent of the ballots. In all, Mr. Joko won 21 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces. Results will be not considered final until any complaints lodged against the vote-counting process are resolved, which could take days or even weeks. In 2014, Mr. Prabowo filed a protest against the election result, delaying the official announcement for months.

“My strategy is to manage the country like a country, not a business,” Mr. Joko said in an interview.

“Some of the effects of these programs — health, education, infrastructure — will come later when I am not president anymore. But we cannot calculate short-term returns when it’s about the long-term national interest.”

But even as he unveiled ambitious health and education funding, along with more than 1,000 miles of new roads, Mr. Joko was criticized for not having adequately protected minority groups’ rights during his first five-year term. Over the past couple of years, radical Muslim militants have targeted churches and police stations, with the Islamic State claiming some of the fatal attacks. Hundreds of Indonesians went to fight with the Islamic State, and last week the police said they had uncovered a bombing plot involving returnees from Syria who planned explosions at election-related gatherings planned for this week.

The United States Embassy in Jakarta has issued a security warning for Americans in Indonesia, urging them to stay away from political rallies or other large crowds.