We May Be The Largest Democracy But This Country Holds The World's Biggest One-day Elections

Around 193 million citizens across 17,000 islands of the archipelago vote on the same day

India is widely considered as the world’s largest democracy, however, the general elections occur in phases over a period of a month. In Indonesia, citizens cast their vote on a single day to choose a new president and parliament.

Around 193 million Indonesians are registered to vote across 17,000 islands of the archipelago that span over 5,000 kilometres from its eastern to western tips, all of which go to polls on April 17. The world’s fourth-largest country by population is home to over 266 million citizens.

It will be the first time that the country’s presidential, parliamentary and regional elections will take place on the same day. More than 245,000 candidates, 30% of them being women, are running for over 20,000 national and local legislative seats. Voters get a window of around eight hours to cast their ballots in one of the 810,000 polling stations set up across the country.

indonesia elections ink

Photo: AP

The election day is a government-mandated national holiday and is monitored by Indonesia’s election commission, which has enrolled thousands of volunteers to oversee the open-air count after the polls close. Unlike India, Indonesia holds the elections through the ballot paper and the equipment—included cardboard ballot boxes—are transported by motorbikes, boats, planes, elephants and horses to reach the mountaintop villages and dense jungles. Around 350,000 police and soldiers join the 1.6 million paramilitary officers stationed across the entire country to safeguard the vote

One of the frontrunners is President Joko Widodo, nicknamed Jokowi, who is a former furniture salesman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle. His main opponent is Prabowo Subianto of the Great Indonesia Movement Party.

Though the official results are not expected until May, a series of so-called “quick counts” give a reliable indication of the presidential winner a few hours after the polls close. Any disputes can be taken to the Constitutional Court where a nine-judge panel will have 14 days to rule on them.