For the last few weeks, presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and some of his senior supporters have made numerous accusations of vote fraud in order to cast doubt on the integrity of the election as well as warned of potential unrest and street protests should the Gerindra chief lose today and they detect evidence of electoral malfeasance.
After he voted today at his local polling station in Bogor’s Bojong Koneng Village, Prabowo essentially reiterated those warnings, saying he could not guarantee that the elections would be carried out safely and peacefully if there was any evidence of fraud.
“How can I guarantee? I am only human. I have no power. Those who have power must guarantee. I have no power. I can only say, history teaches us that, if another country’s election is peaceful, it’s because the election was clean and there was no fraud,” Prabowo said as quoted by Voice of America Indonesia.
The Gerindra chief then likened the election to a soccer game, saying that if a soccer referee showed bias towards one team, that team’s supporters would not be satisfied with the outcome.
Some think that the warnings of unrest and protests are unlikely to materialize as they were made more to lay the groundwork for a legal challenge to the results — in 2014, Prabowo said he did not accept the results and would challenge it in the Constitutional Court before finally withdrawing from the vote count process — rather than a real threat. Others think the voter fraud accusations are more a face-saving measure, to allow the former general to retreat without truly admitting defeat (again, as he did in 2014) in the highly probable event he loses today.
But while Prabowo may just be human, he could have still taken the opportunity to urge his supporters to protest peacefully should the vote not go their way, rather than claim he has no control over them.
At any rate, we’ll find out soon if the preliminary vote result leads to any unrest — voting across the country finished at 1pm and pollsters are currently tabulating quick count results that should be made public at 3pm.