April 17, 2019 / 9:05 AM / 3 days ago

Analyst View: Widodo has substantial lead in Indonesian election - pollsters

HONG KONG/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Unofficial “quick counts” in Indonesia’s election on Wednesday, based on data from some polling stations, gave incumbent President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, a substantial lead over ex-general Prabowo Subianto.

According to a quick count by the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Widodo had an 11 percentage point lead with 76.8 percent of the votes counted.

In previous elections, the quick counts from reputable pollsters have proved to be accurate.

The official results will be announced by the election commission on May 22.

Expectations that Jokowi, a former furniture salesman who launched his political career as a small-city mayor, would win a second five-year term have helped buoy markets this year. The rupiah is up more than 2 percent against the dollar while the stock market has risen 4.6 percent.

Indonesian markets were closed on Wednesday for the election.

COMMENTARY:

JULIAN WEE, INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CREDIT SUISSE, SINGAPORE

“(Widodo’s lead in the quick count) is in the upper end of market estimates. You could get a bit of a boost to the rupiah, it may open below 14,000 tomorrow, and local equity market may get a boost as well.

“The impact will probably be felt more in the currency and equity market. People (in government will be) disciplined on fiscal side so probably will not have that much impact on the bond market.

“If it’s a very wide margin (of victory), it doesn’t make much sense to mount much of a (legal) challenge. It would be very hard to make a case.”

SATRIA SAMBIJANTORO, ECONOMIST, BAHANA SEKURITAS, JAKARTA:

“The fact that this election has concluded peacefully should take a burden off investors’ backs. No matter who the Indonesian leader is for the next five years, he will reap the benefits of aggressive infrastructure spending spree spearheaded by the incumbent government since 2014. The 10 percentage points lead margin for the incumbent president, if various quick count results materialize into reality, should also provide impetus for medium-term economic reforms.”

GRZEGORZ (GREG) KONIECZNY, CO-FOUNDER OF MOBIUS CAPITAL PARTNERS, LONDON:

“The results bring further stability and predictability, and this is what investors like.”

TAY EK PON, SENIOR PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKET FIXED INCOME, BNP PARIBAS ASSET MANAGEMENT, SINGAPORE

“(A Widodo victory) has mostly been priced in, in the bond as well as currency markets. I don’t expect significant reaction in FX. Foreign investors have already increased exposure to the currency this year on the back of dovish central bank (policies).

“55 percent is a bit narrower than the polls were predicting. There is a risk of narrower majority or a dispute over the result. That could create some near-term uncertainty and drive credit spreads wider. But in that event, I would probably add to my position in Indonesian bonds. Indonesia has shown resilience, economic growth is expected to hold up around 5 percent.

“I think if it’s the same government that is elected, they will continue their commitment towards fiscal discipline”

JON HARRISON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EMERGING MARKETS MACRO STRATEGY, TS LOMBARD, LONDON:

“This is clearly positive. Investors have been nervous about the risk of a change of government and policy. Investments that people have been putting off will now be prepared to go ahead.

“Particularly if (Widodo’s share of the vote) is 55 percent, that is a decisive mandate. A narrower margin could give rise to accusation of (election) fraud and so on. This is a good outcome for the market.”

“The (Indonesian) central bank is going to be very cautious about letting the rupiah rally too much, and the bond market as well. But foreign investors should be relieved about this. It is in line with opinion polls and expectations.”

Reporting by Noah Sin in Hong Kong and the Jakarta bureau; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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