“I will be a president for all Indonesians.”
No, they are not the words of a victorious Joko Widodo, who looked certain last night to have won a second term as Indonesia’s president after yesterday’s historic election.
Bizarrely, they’re from the mouth of the losing candidate Prabowo Subianto, who has challenged the result and declared himself the rightful winner.
Never mind that at least five independent pollsters have all calculated a vote of about 54 per cent for Mr Widodo, or President Jokowi as he is popularly known — higher than his winning margin in 2014 — based on random sampling from polling booths.
Mr Prabowo claimed at first that his own exit polls showed he had won 55 per cent of the presidential vote.
A few hours later, the former Suharto-era military general upped his “winning margin” even further to 62 per cent.
“This is the real count, from 320,000 polling stations, or about 40 per cent,” he said in remarks that were broadcast on Indonesia’s TV One.
“I have been told by statisticians that this won’t change.”
Mr Prabowo went on to magnanimously pledge to “develop an Indonesia that is victorious, an Indonesia that is prosperous, an Indonesia that is peaceful, an Indonesia that is respected by the world, an Indonesia where no-one is hungry”.
Finally, after shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and “Merdeka!” (independence), he bent down and kissed the ground.
On Thursday, Mr Widodo also declared victory, telling a news conference that he had received congratulatory phone calls from world leaders.
‘Trumpian’ Prabowo claims foul play
So why would the losing candidate declare himself the winner, in stark contradiction to so many reputable polls that show the exact opposite?
Indonesians and Indonesia-watchers alike are today asking the same question. Many have described Mr Prabowo as delusional.
“He is a Trumpian figure who lives in a self-created bubble of imagined greatness,” said Marcus Mietzner, from the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific.
“Any disturbances to that fantasy world are met with further manipulative additions to his own reality.”
On the face of it, Mr Prabowo cites flaws in the election process for his claim to victory, including instances where ballot boxes didn’t arrive, or polls opened hours late.
He also accused pollsters of bias by manipulating exit poll data to show a win for his opponent.
None of these of course — even if they were true — would be enough to reverse the election result reported by so many polling companies.
The fuller explanation for Mr Prabowo’s claim appears more complex and may be a deliberate ploy to win political concessions from the new government.
Ben Bland, director of the Lowy Institute’s South-East Asia project, put Mr Prabowo’s remarks down to a combination of wounded pride and an attempt at political leverage.
“It’s partly a pattern in Indonesian politics to save face, by claiming you won all along,” Mr Bland said.
“He really believes it was his destiny to rule Indonesia.
“But if you’re protesting and challenging the result, it’s a way to increase your political leverage at a time when the next government is thinking about how to arrange its cabinet.
“It looks a bit absurd to the outside world. But domestically people are forgiving about it.”
Prabowo’s long game up for debate
Mr Prabowo’s stance is a re-run of 2014 when he also lost to Mr Jokowi, and later challenged the vote in the Constitutional Court, which upheld the result.
He was not the first candidate to contest an election result.
Jusuf Kalla, who ran for president while Vice President in 2009, challenged the result that gave the presidency to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono but ultimately accepted the outcome.
Aaron Connelly, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Mr Prabowo was likely to launch a similar court challenge this time around.
“Part of it is personal for Prabowo,” Mr Connelly said.
“The Djojohadikusomos (his family name) have always imagined that one of them should eventually govern Indonesia, should become president.
“So it’s a personal quest, and I think it’s going to be difficult for Prabowo to give up on that before all avenues are exhausted.”
Mr Prabowo may be angling to extract political concessions from Mr Widodo after the former finally concedes defeat, Mr Connelly said.
Wild scenes as President @jokowi leaves the building #Pilpres2019
This could include relief for some of his family’s businesses that are in debt and political roles for some of his family members.
“He has a nephew and a niece who are members of Parliament, and who want to take on bigger roles in the future. So he will ask for roles for them,” Mr Connelly said.
“He might even ask for some of his party members to have cabinet roles in the new cabinet. But that’s probably a bridge too far for Jokowi.”
‘The best hoax of the year’
Analysts say the ploy could pay off, because Mr Widodo will want stability and calm.
But Mr Mietzner warns a formal challenge could also backfire.
“As he is doing this for a second time, his chances of getting away with it are even slimmer than in 2014,” Mr Mietzner said.
“More and more loyalists will desert him, and at the end Jokowi will be inaugurated.”
Indonesians have been quick to ridicule Mr Prabowo on social media.
Many have posted comments on Twitter mocking his claim to the presidency, using the hashtag #PrabowoHalu (from “hallucinate”).
“I want whatever drugs wowo is on,” posted one user.
“The best hoax of the year,” tweeted another.
The most popular tweet came from Indonesia’s former finance minister, who posted a quote from pollster A C Nielsen Jr.
“If you don’t believe in random sampling, the next time you have a blood test tell the doctor to take it all.”