JAKARTA/BANDUNG - Popular Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil is poised to be the next governor of West Java, according to quick counts of votes from regional polls in Indonesia on Wednesday (June 27).
A victory for Mr Ridwan, who was nominated by ruling coalition members Nasdem, the National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP) and Hanura, will be seen as a boost for President Joko Widodo's re-election bid.
The West Java gubernatorial election, arguably the hottest contest among the 171 contests on the same day, has gone down to the wire, the quick counts show, but Mr Ridwan has a slight lead over his nearest rival Sudrajat, a retired two-star general backed by the opposition Gerindra party.
Mr Sudrajat surprised at the polls, snatching second place from veteran actor and Golkar candidate Deddy Mizwar who with his running-mate Dedi Mulyadi were early favourites for a win.
Official results will only be out on July 9, but quick counts, based on early counting of a sample of votes from various polling stations, have historically been accurate in past elections here.
Mr Ridwan, 46, remains the likely winner for now, having garnered between 32 and 34 per cent of votes, according to quick counts by three pollsters - Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC), Indo Barometer and Lembaga Survei Indonesia.
But Mr Sudrajat is close behind with between 28 and 30 per cent with hours of vote-counting to go.
Voters started streaming into polling stations in 17 provinces, 39 cities and 115 regencies across the country from as early as 7am local time on Wednesday. Some voted amid tight security after police recently foiled at least two terror plots aimed at disrupting polling.
Over 150 million registered voters, or more than half of Indonesia's 260 million population, will be electing their governors, mayors and regents, in this last of a three-part direct election, which started in December 2015.
Observers say the regional elections, known locally as Pilkada, are expected to set the stage for next year's parliamentary and presidential elections when President Joko is expected to seek a second term in office.
The polls in Java are also seen as proxy battles between the president and his most likely opponent next year, former general and Gerindra chief Prabowo Subianto, who lost in the 2014 presidential election.
The quick count results of polls elsewhere in Indonesia are playing out as expected with pre-election favourites likely to win in Central Java, East Java, East Nusa Tenggara, North Sumatra and Bali.