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Indonesia elections: Battle for North Sumatra

North Sumatra, the country's fourth most populous province with 10 million voters, is one of several key battlegrounds for the candidates vying to be Indonesia's next president.

MEDAN: North Sumatra is one of several key battlegrounds for the candidates vying to be Indonesia's next president.

It is the country's fourth most populous province with 10 million voters.

In Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, the campaign team of presidential candidate Joko Widodo is busy recruiting more volunteers.

His team is ramping up efforts to canvass for more support and is fighting hard against recent smear campaigns questioning Mr Widodo's religious background.

Budiman Nadapdap, head of Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla campaign team in North Sumatra, said: "We are worried about the black campaign from our opponent. This has harmed the democratic process of Indonesia especially in North Sumatra and Medan."

The team of Prabowo Subianto and vice-presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa has been gaining significant momentum in recent weeks.

Gus Erawan, head of the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa campaign team in North Sumatra, said: "We are confident Prabowo-Hatta will win in North Sumatra. The coalition supporting Probowa-Hatta is also dominant. If we count, there is almost 65 per cent support."

North Sumatra has a large population of Batak people and political analysts say most of them are able to identify themselves with Prabowo who is often seen as a tough and assertive leader.

"Prabowo is more suitable with the character of Sumatra people - very tough person, very clear to say something," said Ahmad Taufan Damanik from the Department of Politics at University of North Sumatra.

He added that Mr Jokowi on the other hand, represents more a Javanese character and culture, which is very different from the Sumatra people.

Voters in Medan are hoping that the next president can bring more development in the city, especially in improving infrastructure.

For many years, people in Medan have experienced power rationing due to insufficient supply to meet rising demand. Voters expect that whoever becomes president can help them finally see the light.

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