Quick counts from Wednesday's legislative elections in Indonesia have presidential favourite Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's party out in front, but with less than the percentage of the vote needed to nominate him as a presidential candidate.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is the clear winner in counts by most reputable polls, such as Saiful Mujani and Indikator, with close to 19% of the vote. Yet the party has fallen short of the minimum of 25% of the vote, or 20% of the seats in the House of Representatives (DPR), needed to put forward a candidate for the presidency. If the polls are correct, this means PDI-P will have to form a coalition with another party in order to nominate Jokowi for president. Furthermore, if Jokowi does succeed in securing the presidency, as has been long predicted by most polls, he will have to contend with a scattered DPR to push through major legislative changes.
Jokowi's main rival for the presidency, Prabowo Subianto, saw good results for his party in Wednesday's election but fell behind Suharto's former party, Golkar. The polls put Golkar's share of the vote at around 15%, ahead of Prabowo's party, the Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra), with close to 12%. Previous polls had put Prabowo ahead of Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie as a popular choice for president, but always put Jokowi in the lead.
Non-profit observer The Asia Foundation saw the election results as a hard-won victory for PDI-P, despite the party's inability to reach its target share of the vote. Senior researcher Sandra Hamid wrote that PDI-P's clear lead showed that its decision to serve in opposition to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, instead of lining up to join the president's 'rainbow coalition', had paid off by providing voters with an alternative. PDI-P will now likely have to form a coalition in order to nominate Jokowi, but it will be a limited one with no cabinet seats handed out to potential partners, Hamid wrote.
The Australian National University's New Mandala blog pointed to political personalities as the key to understanding PDI-P's under-performance in the poll. Edward Aspinall argued that '"ground war" style campaigns' had influenced voting behaviour, with vote-buying and personality-based advertising securing support for individual candidates, regardless of their party backing. Meanwhile, Wimar Witoelar wrote that the limited impact of the 'Jokowi effect' in yesterday's poll showed that Indonesia's political oligarchy cannot be broken by a single popular individual. He added that improved voter education was needed to force Suharto-era elements out of politics.
The results are unlikely to change Jokowi's predicted rise to president, but will change the path he takes to get there. PDI-P is in a good position to drive the hard bargain Sandra Hamid wrote about, as any vice presidential hopeful tied to his ticket can expect an almost certain victory. Nonetheless, the PDI-P will have to work hard to overcome corrupt campaigning practices and to convince the public to trust the party itself as much as they trust Jokowi.