Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, the president’s son, registered on Wednesday for next year’s presidential election, setting the stage for a three-way race the former military commander is tipped to win.
Nearly 205 million Indonesians, a third of them younger than 30, are eligible to vote in presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 14 in the world’s third-largest democracy.
Thousands of cheering supporters met Prabowo, 72, and Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the eldest son of outgoing President Joko Widodo, as they handed their credentials and manifesto to election officials in the capital, Jakarta.
“We’re ready to go forward with our programs, visions to continue development so that Indonesia can be an advanced and prosperous country,” Prabowo said.
He is contesting the presidency for the third time after narrowly losing in 2014 and 2019 to Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, who can not run again because of term limits.
A former special forces chief, Prabowo has a narrow lead in opinion surveys over the two other contenders: former provincial governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan.
A survey by pollster Indikator Politik released last week showed 37% of 4,300 respondents backed Prabowo, while Ganjar had 35% and Anies had 22%. Nearly 7% were undecided, the survey, taken from Oct. 2 to 10, showed.
Prabowo, in an 88-page manifesto, pledged to push ahead with construction of a new capital city on the island of Borneo and to develop mineral processing industries, among Jokowi’s key policies.
He also promised to restrict entry of foreign workers, eradicate extreme poverty within the two years and decommission coal power plants and accelerate decarbonization. He also said he would increase the defense budget and modernize military hardware. He did not provide details.
His platform includes raising the threshold for non-taxable income and lowering income tax and boosting to 23% the ratio of state revenue to gross domestic product.
He also said he hoped to significantly raise the palm oil component in biodiesel and bioethanol in fuel by 2029.
Courting young voters
Prabowo and Gibran, 36, signed up on the last day for registration following days of political maneuvring and public outrage over a last-minute court decision on eligibility that allowed Jokowi’s son, a relative newcomer to politics, to run.
Prabowo’s decision to partner with Gibran could attract some of the president’s significant support base, analysts say.
But activists and analysts have raised concern over what they see as Jokowi’s attempts to build a political dynasty to retain influence after leaving office.
Analysts say Prabowo, who was previously saddled with a murky human rights record, has cultivated a more charismatic and statesmanlike image, than one of fiery, pious nationalist, to appeal to younger voters.
Earlier on Wednesday, Gibran, who is mayor of Surakarta city, said their ticket would introduce loans for digital start-ups and keep developing the green economy.
“We all believe that the existing programs have brought Indonesia to the gate of advancement,” he told a stadium packed with supporters. “Our duty is to continue and perfect programs related to youth, millennial generation, Gen Z.”