The wait is over. After taking two weeks to count 135m ballots from 480,000-odd polling stations across the vast archipelago, Indonesia’s Election Commission (the KPU) has at last confirmed that Joko Widodo has been elected president. The commission said that Mr Joko, the governor of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and his vice-presidential running mate, Jusuf Kalla, won 71m votes at the election on July 9th. That represents 53.2% of the valid votes. The losers, Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, won 62.6m votes, or 46.9%. Mr Joko was victorious in 23 of the country’s 33 provinces. His winning margin of 8.4m votes, or 6.3 percentage points, was even wider than had been predicted by most of the respected pollsters on the night of the election.
Mr Joko, known to all as Jokowi, is due to start his five-year term as leader of the world’s third-largest democracy on October 20th. He will be like no leader Indonesia has had before, with roots in neither the army nor an established family. This sets him apart from his early patron, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is the daughter of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno and was president herself from 2001 to 2004. Instead Jokowi rose up through local government, a product of the far-reaching political decentralisation that was introduced after the overthrow of Suharto, Indonesia’s late dictator, in 1999. A former furniture-seller, Jokowi was elected mayor of Solo, a medium-sized city in central Java, before becoming Jakarta’s governor in 2012. He has a reputation for being a man of the people.
Jokowi faces some big challenges. Indonesia’s economy, the largest in South-East Asia, is slowing. Annual growth fell to 5.2% in the first quarter, its slowest rate in more than four years. Wasteful energy subsidies are costing the government some $30 billion a year and contribute to a destabilising current-account deficit. The sprawling bureaucracy needs reform. And the hunt for natural resources is ravaging the archipelago’s remaining forests and spoiling its seas. But Jokowi’s most pressing challenge will be to repair the rifts caused by the election itself, which has been the most divisive in Indonesia’s history.