JAKARTA: Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, the president’s son, registered today for next year’s presidential election, setting the stage for a three-way race that the former general is tipped to win.
Prabowo, 72, and Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the eldest son of outgoing President Joko Widodo, were met by thousands of cheering supporters in the capital Jakarta as they handed their credentials and manifesto to election officials.
“We’re ready to go forward with our programmes, our visions to continue development so that Indonesia can be an advanced and prosperous country,” said Prabowo, who is contesting the presidency for the third time after narrowly losing in 2014 and 2019 to Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.
The world’s third-largest democracy will hold presidential and legislative elections on February 14 with nearly 205 million eligible voters, about a third of whom are under the age of 30.
Former special forces commander Prabowo has a narrow lead in opinion surveys over the two other contenders: former provincial governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan.
An Oct 2-10 survey by pollster Indikator Politik released on Friday showed 37% of 4,300 respondents backed Prabowo, while Ganjar had 35% and Anies had 22%. Nearly 7% were undecided.
Prabowo and Gibran, 36, signed up on the last day of the registration period after days of political manoeuvring and public outrage over a last-minute court decision on eligibility criteria that allowed Jokowi’s son, a relative newcomer on the political scene, to run.
Prabowo’s decision to partner with Gibran could attract some of the president’s massive support base, analysts say.
But activists and analysts have raised concerns over what they see as Jokowi’s attempts to retain influence after leaving office.
Once disgraced due to a murky human rights record, analysts say Prabowo has now cultivated a persona that is more charismatic statesman than fiery, pious nationalist to appeal to a younger voter base.
Earlier on Wednesday at a stadium packed with supporters, Gibran, who is also mayor of Surakarta city, said their ticket would roll out loans for digital start-ups and continue development of the mineral processing industry and green economy.
“We believe that the existing national programmes have brought great development to Indonesia. Our duty is to continue and perfect our plans related to youth, the millennial generation, Gen Z,” he said.
The pair has yet to reveal details of their policy platform.