Indonesia has officially entered a three-way presidential race set to determine the future leadership of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
With the upcoming presidential election scheduled for February 14, 205 million eligible voters await their chance to cast their ballots, as President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, completes his maximum two-term tenure.
The frontrunners in this race are septuagenarian former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, who announced his candidacy alongside the president’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka. Their alliance has sparked discussions of political dynasties, a matter President Jokowi vehemently denies.
Joining this electoral showdown are two more contenders: former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan. These three candidates confirmed their bids for the presidency just before the midnight registration deadline.
Subianto and Rakabuming Raka, dressed in matching baby blue shirts, made a high-profile visit to the election commission, accompanied by supporters and a marching band, following a concert attended by tens of thousands in central Jakarta. Subianto expressed the significance of this moment in Indonesian history, emphasizing the potential for the nation to rise and harness its natural resources for the benefit of all.
The race is marked by controversy, with the Constitutional Court, led by President Jokowi’s brother-in-law, ruling just before the deadline that candidates under 40 years old can run for office if they have served in a regional position. This ruling allowed 36-year-old Raka, the mayor of Surakarta city, to enter the vice presidential contest.
Multiple polls have indicated that Subianto, aged 72, holds a slight lead over his closest rival, Pranowo. This is Subianto’s third attempt at the presidency, having previously lost to President Jokowi in two elections.
Pranowo, chosen as the candidate by President Jokowi’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was initially seen as the favorite but faced a drop in popularity after opposing Israel’s participation in the U20 World Cup. FIFA consequently stripped Indonesia of its hosting rights for the tournament. Pranowo has selected chief security minister Mahfud MD as his running mate.
The third contender, Baswedan, garners support from conservative Muslims in the predominantly Muslim country. His running mate is Muhaimin Iskandar, the chairman of the Islamist National Awakening Party (PKB).
As the nation awaits the outcome of this critical election, the next president is set to be inaugurated in October, according to the elections commission.