An anticipated 140 million Indonesian voters are trooping to various polling cnetres to elect the President even as the government declared today a national holiday in what has been described as the world’s largest direct presidential election.
The polls were scheduled to be open for just six hours and closed at 1 p.m. Jakarta time. The voting was reported to be going smoothly, with relatively short lines at polling stations.
“All I want is a good leader,” said 21-year-old Monica Apriyani, a first-time voter who arrived at her polling station in Cibinon, Bogor, as it opened at 7 a.m. She declined to say who she voted for.
With less than 30 minutes to go before the polls closed, fewer than 400 of the 558 registered voters at one polling station in the South Jakarta neighborhood had cast their ballots, prompting an election official to use a public address system to urge local residents to vote.
“Don’t waste your vote,” he called out. “Your vote will determine the future of Indonesia.”
The election offers a stark choice between populist Governor Joko Widodo, a former mayor and furniture exporter, and former general Prabowo Subianto, who was discharged from the army for human rights abuses but is now a wealthy businessman and political party founder.
Many voters traveled long distances to be with their families and cast their ballots together in their hometowns. In Jakarta, where traffic congestion is typically among the worst in the world, the streets were nearly empty.
Voting was simplified for this election, the ballot only has two choices. Many voters identify the candidates by their ballot positions—No. 1 for the ticket of Mr. Subianto and running mate Hatta Rajasa, and No. 2 for the ticket of Mr. Widodo and running mate Jusuf Kalla.
Mr. Widodo arrived at his voting station in central Jakarta shortly after 10 a.m. wearing a brown and yellow traditional batik-patterned shirt. Accompanied by his wife, Iriana, he waved to a crowd of supporters and flashed the number two with his fingers.
The polling station isn’t far from the elementary school that U.S. President Barack Obama attended when he lived in Indonesia as a boy. Mr. Widodo has been called Indonesia’s Obama and often draws parallels to the American president for being a young, upstart politician that is perceived as a man of the people.
Mr. Subianto also arrived at his voting station, near his home in West Java, at about 10 a.m., wearing his trademark white safari shirt and a black pechi hat. He waded through a throng of cameras and supporters, waving, shaking hands and giving an occasional military-style salute.
“Everyone needs strong leaders now,” Mr. Subianto said in English in response to a question from a reporter. “Leaders must make good decisions, right?”
After voting, Mr. Subianto kissed babies and shook hands with villagers, some of whom shouted his name.
“Mr. Prabowo, can you please kiss my son’s forehead,” said one father, using the candidate’s first name. “We came all the way from Sukabumi,” about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.
Mr. Subianto kissed the boy’s forehead and asked, “Have you voted?”
“Yes sir, we voted for you,” the man said.
Etty Djuhaty, 63 years old, who voted at a polling booth in West Java, said casting her ballot was easy.
“It took all of 5 minutes for each person to get the ballot, pick their candidate of choice and stick the ballot into the box,” she said.
However, she said she saw at least six voters who found that their names weren’t on the voter list, which is a common problem. They were able to register but had to wait until the polls closed at 1 p.m. to see if there were ballots available for them, she said.
“If there are ballots left, then those six get their turn,” she said. [myad]