Both candidates claim victory in presidential election after early vote counts

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The rival candidates in Indonesia’s presidential election have each claimed victory, raising uncertainty about the political and legal landscape.

According to the three most reputable quick-count surveys, soft-spoken Jakarta governor Joko Widodo won the election in Southeast Asia’s largest economy with 52 per cent of the vote. But his Suharto-era opponent, Prabowo Subianto, said other data indicated he had won.

Mr Widodo is the first candidate in direct elections with no connection to former dictator Suharto’s 1966-1998 regime and its excesses.

The quick counts tally a representative sample of votes cast around the country and have accurately forecast the results of every Indonesian national election since 2004. It will be around two weeks before votes are officially tallied.

This is “not a victory for the party, not a victory for the campaign team, but this is a victory for the people of Indonesia,” Mr Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, told supporters at a historical site in Jakarta.

Hundreds of his supporters later celebrated at a famous roundabout in the capital, waving flags and setting off fireworks.

But Mr Subianto – a general in the Suharto regime and the late dictator’s former son-in-law – said: “We ask all the coalition’s supporters and Indonesian people to guard and escort this victory until the official count.”

Outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged both camps to “restrain themselves” and not allow their supporters to publicly declare victory until the election commission decides the winner.

Mr Widodo is seen as a man of the people who wants to advance democratic reforms and is untainted by the often corrupt elite that has run Indonesia for decades.

Mr Subianto had a dubious human rights record during his military career but is seen as a strong and decisive leader.

Just a couple of months ago, the election was considered firmly tilted towards Mr Widodo, 53. But Mr Subianto, 62, led a late surge after picking up the endorsement of most of the country’s largest and well-organised political parties.