On February 14, Indonesia will maintain the world’s largest single-day election. As much as 205 million eligible voters throughout the archipelago, from Banda Aceh to Merauke, will go to the polls to pick the nation’s subsequent president, in addition to select government and legislative representatives at different ranges of presidency.
Three candidates are operating for the presidency, a contest that has unusually flown beneath the radar in worldwide press protection, maybe overshadowed by this yr’s raft of elections in locations like India, Pakistan, and the US. However the end result might have far-reaching results on the nation’s financial and political trajectory, and its actions on the worldwide stage. Right here is all you’ll want to know concerning the election.
Who Are the Three Candidates?
The main candidate is Prabowo Subianto, 72, the present protection minister. A former normal who rose excessive beneath the dictatorship of President Suharto, Prabowo is collaborating for the third time, after dropping to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in each 2014 and 2019. Prabowo chairs the Nice Indonesia Motion (Gerindra) celebration, which endorsed him as its presidential candidate final yr.
Maybe heeding the dictum that should you can’t beat them, be a part of them, Prabowo has this yr sought to harness the recognition of his rival by appointing his son, 36-year-old Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as his vice-presidential running-mate. He has additionally sanded down the sides of his public character, shifting from a gruff ex-military man to a jolly avuncular determine who dances on stage at rallies and beams out cutesy TikTok movies. This he has twinned with formidable financial pledges, such because the eradication of utmost poverty inside two years of taking workplace, and the achievement of self-sufficiency in meals and vitality.
Competing towards Prabowo are Ganjar Pranowo, the previous governor of Central Java, and Anies Baswedan, the ex-governor of Central Java. Ganjar, 55, has an outsider background much like Jokowi, and the truth that he hails from exterior the established circles of nationwide energy has made him a preferred nationwide determine. Most significantly, he enjoys the imprimatur of the Indonesian Democratic Social gathering of Wrestle (PDIP), the celebration that Jokowi represented in 2014 and 2019. Ganjar has sought to painting himself as a down-to-earth chief, and says that he’ll function “president of the folks.” He has vowed to broaden social welfare, clamp down on corruption, and be sure that at the very least one youngster in each family goes to school.
Ganjar’s vice-presidential operating mate is Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s former coordinating safety affairs minister and a former Constitutional Court docket choose. Ganjar’s staff hopes that he’ll assist the marketing campaign capitalize on his hyperlinks to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the nation’s largest Islamic group.
Anies, 54, who served as governor of Jakarta from 2017-2022, is hoping to copy Jokowi’s trajectory from the management of the Indonesian capital to the presidency, whereas positioning himself as an alternative choice to the Jokowiist establishment. Amongst his many marketing campaign pledges are guarantees to construct 2 million public housing items, expedite forest rehabilitation and conservation efforts, and impose a wealth tax on Indonesia’s richest 100 folks.
In early September, Anies selected Muhaimin Iskandar, who additionally has shut ties to NU, as his operating mate. Identified generally as Cak Imin, Muhaimin is head of the Nationwide Awakening Social gathering (PKB), Indonesia’s largest Islamic celebration, and the nephew of the late Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur, a well-respected former president and spiritual chief.
The selection may be interpreted as an try and bolster his average Islamic bona fides in gentle of the controversies that surrounded his election to the Jakarta governorship in 2017. Throughout that marketing campaign, he capitalized on the surge in hardline Islamist sentiment towards his opponent and then-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok, an ethnic Chinese language Christian, who was spuriously accused, and later imprisoned, for blasphemy.
Will Prabowo Win in a Single Spherical?
For a lot of the previous yr, the previous normal has held a major lead in public opinion polls, which has solely widened because the announcement of Gibran as his vice-presidential running-mate in October – a transfer that many have seen as a quiet endorsement by Jokowi. The query is whether or not he can break by means of the straightforward majority essential to win the election outright and keep away from a run-off election on June 26.
After lingering within the 40s for a lot of the marketing campaign, the newest polls put him simply over the road. On the finish of January, polling company Lingkaran Survei Indonesia confirmed Prabowo as the popular selection of fifty.7 % of the 1,200 respondents surveyed. The newest ballot from rival company Indikator Politik Indonesia, which was carried out from January 28 to February 4, exhibits the Prabowo-Gibran ticket sitting at 51.8 %, far forward of Anies (24.1 %) and Ganjar (19.6 %). After factoring within the 4.5 % of voters who remained undecided, Indikator predicted that Prabowo and Gibran would win 54 % of the vote on February 14.
Given how shut issues are, nevertheless, there’s a danger that even minor missteps within the ultimate few days might make the distinction between outright victory and a run-off – one the place victory wouldn’t be foreordained. “With an election this shut,” Yohanes Sulaiman of Indonesia’s Universitas Jendral Achmad Yani famous this week, “Prabowo and his staff ought to be much more involved about profitable the election in spherical one than being overly assured and maybe dropping in a runoff months down the highway.”
Will Current Controversies Harm the Marketing campaign?
All through the marketing campaign, the Prabowo candidacy has attracted its share of controversy. To start with, Gibran was solely in a position to turn into the ticket’s vice-presidential candidate after a Constitutional Court docket ruling in October, which created an exception to the authorized minimal age of 40 for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, permitting youthful officers who’ve held elected workplace at decrease ranges of presidency to run. This was extensively seen as a carve-out for Gibran, who has served as mayor of Surakarta in Central Java since 2020. Notably, the chief justice of the court docket on the time was Jokowi’s brother-in-law, Anwar Usman, who was subsequently demoted by an ethics panel for refusing to recuse himself from the case.
The ruling brought on an enormous stir in Indonesia and prompted allegations the president was abusing his affect to benefit his son and be sure that his energy persists after he leaves workplace in October.
Different extra minor transgressions have adopted. The Common Election Supervisory Company introduced final month that Gibran had violated a Jakarta regulation when he handed out free milk to kids at a public “car-free day” within the Indonesian capital in December. Then, late final month, Gibran drew fireplace for his efficiency on the fourth televised presidential election debate. In keeping with the Jakarta Put up, many Indonesian social media customers condemned his remarks as smug, and that he “considerably broke away from the normal Javanese values of restraint and the courteous expression of opinion, not like his older rivals.”
Shadowing all of that is Prabowo’s actions in the course of the Suharto regime, when critics accuse him of assorted human rights violations, together with the kidnapping of democracy activists in the course of the regime’s ultimate months in 1998. Prabowo has denied these accusations, and responded testily to any questioning alongside these traces. He was the one presidential candidate not to reply to a human rights questionnaire despatched to the three campaigns by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
Whereas these controversies haven’t prevented Prabowo and Gibran from rising within the polls, there’s the chance that they may sway undecided voters, and rob the candidate of a cherished single-round victory.
Which Means Will Indonesia’s Youth Fall?
The results of subsequent week’s election will likely be decided above all by the selections of younger Indonesians. Greater than half of these eligible to vote are aged between 17 and 40, and a few third are beneath 30. This has prompted the three campaigns to go to appreciable lengths to win the youth vote. This has concerned each issues of favor – jokey TikTok campaigns, free Okay-Pop ticket giveaways, and different Gen Z gimmicks – with insurance policies promising to ship on points that matter to younger folks, comparable to unemployment, local weather change, and institutional corruption. Jobs particularly are a hot-button concern. As Nikkei Asia notes, all three presidential candidates have every set formidable targets for job creation: Prabowo has vowed to create 19 million new jobs throughout his time period in workplace, Ganjar 17 million, and Anies 15 million.
To this point, nearly all of younger voters appear to be supporting Prabowo, the eldest of the three candidates. A December survey by Indikator confirmed all three candidates just about tied in assist amongst voters aged 56 or older, however Prabowo was properly forward in each youthful age class. This is likely to be resulting from his youthful operating mate. Because the youngest individual collaborating, Gibran has depicted himself “because the embodiment of youth aspiration,” who can deliver an “picture of freshness and vitality” to the marketing campaign of the previous normal double his age.
Can Anies Capitalize on His Standing because the “Change” Candidate?
One of many quirks of the election is that each Prabowo and Ganjar are operating as continuity candidates, the previous having fun with (or being perceived to take pleasure in) Jokowi’s blessing, and the latter operating because the candidate of the ruling PDIP. This leaves solely Anies with any room to oppose the political establishment. Trailing within the polls for many of the marketing campaign, Anies and his staff have leaned into this theme, depicting him because the candidate of change and renewal.
Whereas Anies isn’t promising radical adjustments – his marketing campaign platform is crammed with the identical pocket-book guarantees as his rivals’ – Anies is the one candidate to not pledge to proceed Jokowi’s eye-wateringly costly challenge to maneuver the capital metropolis from Jakarta to Kalimantan. He says that Indonesia has extra “pressing wants,” and has argued that funding ought to be unfold extra equally throughout the islands. Anies even introduced up the problem of Jokowi’s creeping authoritarianism within the first presidential debate as a solution to body the election as a selection between nepotism and authoritarianism on the one hand, and a return to the most effective latest practices of Indonesian democracy on the opposite.
It is a high-risk transfer, given Jokowi’s sky-high recognition rankings – nevertheless it seems to be working, with Anies rising into second place in latest opinion polls. This could possibly be sufficient to get him right into a run-off election with Prabowo in June. At that time, something might occur.