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A closer look at the three candidates and their running mates contesting Indonesia's Feb 14 presidential election

JAKARTA: A changing of the guards is coming to Indonesia on Oct 20, 2024 when President Joko Widodo – who will have led the country for two five-year terms – will step down and his successor sworn in.

Who gets to lead Southeast Asia’s biggest economy for the next five years will be decided in a presidential election on Feb 14

People in the world’s fourth-most populous country – as well as the international community – are anxious whether the next president will continue or instead undo Mr Widodo’s foreign policies as well as his social and infrastructure programmes.

The current president, popularly known as Jokowi, is barred from running for a third term by the Indonesian Constitution.

Three candidates have so far registered with the general elections commission to run for the presidency: former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto.

Analysts are predicting a tight race.

“Based on (popularity) polls, no candidate seems set to win the election by a comfortable margin,” Mr Djayadi Hanan, executive director of the think tank Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) told CNA.

According to pollster Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) on Oct 22, Mr Subianto and Mr Raka are leading with 35.9 per cent, followed by Mr Pranowo and Mr Mahfud at 26.1 per cent.

In third place are Mr Baswedan and Mr Iskandar, whose popularity rating is 19.6 per cent.

With no candidate enjoying a comfortable lead over the others, analysts say the trio will need running mates which can boost their chances of wooing the 204 million eligible voters.

Mr Baswedan has chosen Mr Muhaimin Iskandar, the chairman of the National Awakening Party as his running mate while Mr Pranowo picked coordinating minister for security Mahfud MD.

Meanwhile, Mr Subianto chose Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka – who is the eldest son of the current president Mr Widodo – as his partner in the presidential election.

Here is what you need to know about the candidates:

ANIES BASWEDAN AND MUHAIMIN ISKANDAR

Before entering politics, Mr Baswedan was an academic, serving as the rector of Paramadina University in Jakarta between 2007 and 2014.

The 54-year-old was also the founder of a popular programme called Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches) in 2009 which sends university students and graduates on a one-year teaching mission in some of the most remote areas of Indonesia with little access to quality education.

The programme’s popularity is said to have inspired Mr Widodo to pick him as minister of education when the former became president in 2014. But Mr Widodo was apparently unhappy with Mr Baswedan’s performance and had him replaced in 2016.

“If elected, Ganjar will not allow the (infrastructure) development carried out by Jokowi to halt,” Yunarto Wijaya, executive director of think-tank Charta Politika, told CNA.

Mr Pranowo, 54, is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and known to be loyal to the party’s founder and chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, the daughter of the country’s first president Sukarno who herself became Indonesia’s first and only female president in 2001.

But if elected, analysts predict that Mr Pranowo might have to balance his position as leader of the country and his status as a party cadre loyal to the wishes of party chairwoman Mdm Soekarnoputri.

Mr Pranowo’s vision is to produce more workers skilled in science and technology as well as to build a so-called national digital system in order to accelerate Indonesia’s economic development. 

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Mr Pranowo is currently supported by a coalition of four political parties: the PDI-P, the United Development Party (PPP) , the United Indonesia Party (Perindo) and People’s Conscience Party (Hanura). The latter two parties do not hold any seats in parliament. 

This means he might have to navigate around strong parliamentary opposition to enact strategic programmes and policies if he is elected.

The coalition on Oct 18 appointed Mr Mahfud to be his running mate. The 66-year-old, whose full name is Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, is a senior technocrat who has served in a number of public offices including as chief of the Constitutional Court between 2008 and 2013. 

In 2019, President Widodo appointed Mr Mahfud as Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security, a position he still holds today. 

Analysts say Mr Mahfud’s credentials, as well as being a respected Nahdlatul Ulama scholar, could boost Mr Pranowo’s chances in the election particularly among Muslim voters. 

Mr Mahfud’s decades-long experience as a technocrat and legal background could also be useful to Mr Pranowo should he secure the presidency.

PRABOWO SUBIANTO AND GIBRAN RAKABUMING RAKA

Mr Subianto, 72, is the oldest politician vying for the presidency in 2024 and by far the most experienced.

The retired army general has participated in three presidential elections before.

In 2009, Mr Subianto became Mdm Soekarnoputri’s vice-presidential candidate before gunning for the presidency twice in 2014 and 2019. In 2009, Mdm Soekarnoputri lost to Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono while in 2014 and 2019, Mr Subianto lost to Mr Widodo.

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