Prabowo becomes main contender 6 months ahead of Indonesia’s presidential polls

Parties supporting Prabowo’s candidacy command 46 per cent of Parliament seats. The other two presidential candidates, Ganjar Pranowo, and Anies Baswedan, have 26 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively.

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

The Straits Times


Parties supporting Mr Prabowo Subianto’s candidacy command 46 per cent of Parliament seats. PHOTO: AFP/ THE STRAITS TIMES

August 14, 2023

JAKARTA – Mr Prabowo Subianto has received the backing of nearly half of the nine political parties in Parliament, putting him ahead of the other two candidates in Indonesia’s five-yearly presidential election that is slated for February 2024.

In a surprise decision on Sunday, the nation’s oldest party Golkar and the Islamic-leaning National Mandate Party (PAN) pledged support for the Defence Minister and former army general.

He had earlier secured support from his own Gerindra party and the Islamic-leaning National Awakening Party (PKB).

Parties supporting Mr Prabowo’s candidacy command 46 per cent of Parliament seats.

The other two presidential candidates, Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, 54, and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, 54, have 26 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively.

“The additional political party backing would keep the momentum of Prabowo’s rising electability,” Mr Sirojudin Abbas, a researcher at SMRC, a noted Jakarta-based pollster, told The Straits Times.

Indonesian election law requires a party or a coalition of parties to have at least 20 per cent of Parliament seats to field a pair of presidential and vice-presidential candidates to the national election commission.

Associate Professor Aditya Perdana, who recently set up political consultancy firm Algoritma Research & Consulting and is its executive director, said Golkar is being pragmatic.

“Prabowo is leading on the electability survey,” he added.

Mr Prabowo, 72, is reportedly favoured by incumbent President Joko Widodo.

Mr Prabowo’s brother and financier Hashim Djojohadikusumo said on Sunday that Golkar and PAN received a nod from Mr Widodo before pledging support for Mr Prabowo, raising eyebrows among political pundits who questioned why the President had intervened in political party matters. Mr Hashim made the comment during an online discussion attended by the national media, including tvOne and Metro TV.

The coalition of parties backing Mr Prabowo has yet to make a decision on who he will pair up with.

Names touted include State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, 53, whose family is a main donor of Mr Widodo’s presidential campaigns; Mr Muhaimin Iskandar, 56, chairman of PKB and an early supporter of Mr Prabowo’s candidacy; and Solo Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 35, Mr Widodo’s son.

Prof Aditya said that Golkar, as the largest party in the coalition, would naturally propose that the vice-presidential post be filled by its own cadre, who could be its chairman Airlangga Hartarto, 60, or popular West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, 52.

“Filling in Prabowo’s running mate would be a very contentious issue,” Prof Aditya, who was former executive director at University of Indonesia’s Centre for Political Studies, told ST.

The scheduled registration in 2023 will start on Oct 19 and end on Nov 25, which will be followed by a campaign period for the Feb 14 general election.

In a speech before the chairmen of the four political parties that have pledged support for his candidacy, Mr Prabowo expressed gratitude for the trust given to him.

“We are involved in politics so that we can have a role in the progress of our people and nation. We don’t want to leave the fate of our nation to the people whose love for our people and nation is doubted,” he said.

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