Indonesia observers say early figures show Joko Widodo is leading in the presidential election, and the margin between Jokowi and Prabowo Subianto is a wide one.
Presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: Greg Barton, Professor of Indonesian Studies, Monash University
BARTON: Well, you know, we've heard this language of 'tight race' and if you'd asked me a couple of days ago, I would've correctly said it was too close to call. But by the end of the quick count round yesterday, which was pretty fast because of the way the quick count was done. It was worked .. being on the local polling stations which had only three or may be seven hundred local residents to count, so it was pretty accurate.
The gap (between Jokowi and Prabowo) is actually much larger than anyone was reasonably expecting. If the Election Commission confirms that Jokowi has won with five, six percent, it looks like being at least around a four-percent, somewhere around the five-percent range. In a two-horse race, in a presidential direct election, that's a pretty good margin. And we were expecting it would be in the one to two percent range - so it's true, we have to be patient, and Jokowi is well advised to avoid confrontation with Prabowo's eventual facing up to reality. But it is a comfortable result.
LAM: As you say, the margin a wide one, according to your reading, but try telling Prabowo Subianto's supporters that. And indeed, the President summoned both candidates for a chat last night, to bring calm to both sides. Is civil unrest a real possibility?
BARTON: I think it was looking very much like a real possibility, Sen, if the results had been as close as we thought they might be. I think the hope now is that in the Prabowo camp, you have people like Abu Rizal Bakri, a hardnosed businessman, Chairman of Golkar, came over fairly late and swung Golkar behind Prabowo when he could not strike a deal with Megawati - he'll be eyeing a position in the cabinet. He's a realist and he'll recognise that no point in fighting this one, if they're not going to win it. They're better off trying to sit down with the Jokowi camp and talk about the cabinet. And I think part of the Democrat which came to the coalition of Prabowo, even later, will try to do something similar. And Jokowi is an amenable guy to negotiate with, so I think that will bring things around.
And there's a back story to the Prabowo campaign, they had chosen to go with the strategy of deliberately using falsehoods and slanders and slurs in their campaign and I think it's caught them now, because they're trapped in their own feedback loop.
LAM: As you say, Joko Widodo would be good to negotiate with, and certainly the markets seem to favour Jokowi. How do you account for that?
BARTON: Well, Jokowi is one of those remarkable figures you see every so often in politics, that makes you feel positive about what you can have in political change.
I say this, because he comes from outside the Jakarta elite, he has no connections with the Jakarta elite, apart from the people he has to work with in coalition. He's a relatively young man, fifty-three from a modest background, his father was a lumber merchant, he went into the furniture business, and of course went on to, in that same town of Solo in central Java, to become mayor, two terms and now, the last two years, Governor of Jakarta.
It's that everyman background and practical experience with business, and a good sense of what it takes to manage, to run things. And a reputation for being completely incorruptible. The Prabowo camp had to resort to making up things, because they couldn't really find anything substantial to use against him.
I think the market looks at that, and says, "Well, here is somebody who isn't driven by a large ego, seems to easy to work with as a team player, looks clean. And I guess what we're saying is, he looks like a reformist, but a centrist at the same time. Somebody who's middle of the road, sensible but will push through incremental reforms.
Indonesia needs a lot of work done on anti-corruption reforms, and with Jokowi, there's a good chance to expect that. Whereas with Prabowo, it would have been back to many of the aspects of the Suharto regime. And although the market likes stability and there're aspects of that style of regime that can be attractive, they know that there needs to be reform, and so a Jokowi outcome is really what they are looking for.