Indonesia gears up for election showdown

Amr Yehia in Jakarta, Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

Indonesia is gearing up for its general elections on 14 February against a backdrop marked by political alliances and the prominence of three major political blocs. Some 205 million voters are eligible to cast their votes and choose the president, vice president, and members of the People’s Shura Council, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate.

presidential election
People walk past a billboard showing posters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (L) and vice presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka on a before a local election campaign in Timika, Central Papua, on February 7, 2024, ahead of the upcoming February 14 presidential election. Photo: AFP


The elections will also determine thousands of members for both central and local legislative councils. The winning president and vice president are expected to be sworn in on 20 October, while the newly elected members of the legislative councils will take their oath on 1 October.

The upcoming general elections in Indonesia, home to a diverse population exceeding 270 million, the third-largest democracy globally after India and the US, are poised to determine President Joko Widodo's successor. Given that Widodo is currently serving his second and final term, as per constitutional provisions preventing eligibility for a third term, the elections will unfold in a single day across 823,000 electoral precincts.

The elections will see robust competition among six candidates vying for the positions of president and vice president, representing the Change Alliance, the Advanced Indonesia Alliance, and the Alliance of Political Parties.

Anies Baswedan, a 54-year-old former governor of Jakarta, is contending for the position of president of the republic as part of the Change Alliance. His electoral platform revolves around the theme "A just and prosperous society for all Indonesians." The programme aims to eradicate poverty and inequality while ensuring equitable access to high-quality public services, including healthcare, education, and housing. 

Among Baswedan's commitments are the pursuit of social justice and economic prosperity by reducing the poverty rate to 4-5 percent by 2029, eradicating extreme poverty by 2026, and generating over 15 million new job opportunities, including in the green sector. 

Baswedan's agenda focuses on the promotion of democracy and human rights, ensuring good governance, combating corruption, safeguarding women's rights, and preventing violence and discrimination against them.

General Prabowo Subianto, 72, is contending for the presidency within the Alliance for Advanced Indonesia. He has articulated eight goals to realize a "Golden Indonesia by 2045." His focal points encompass economic development, social welfare, national security, a 50 percent reduction in national debt within five years, bolstering the roles of the army and police to safeguard national sovereignty, attaining self-sufficiency in food, energy, and water, enhancing healthcare, and constructing hospitals.

Additionally, he pledges to enforce the law rigorously and combat terrorism.

Muhaimin Iskandar, 57, is vying for the position of vice president within the Change Alliance. A prominent figure in Indonesian politics, he played a pivotal role in the establishment of the National Awakening Party in 1998, subsequently leading it since 2005. 

Iskandar became deputy speaker of the House of Representatives at the age of 33, emerging as one of the youngest leaders in the Legislative Council, before being appointed as minister of manpower and immigration. Throughout his political journey, Iskandar has maintained close ties with influential figures in Indonesian politics. 

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, is Widodo’s eldest son. His candidacy for vice president within the Advanced Indonesia Alliance became possible due to a contentious legal amendment.
The Constitutional Court, just before the close of candidate registration, ruled to lift the age restriction of 40 for individuals aspiring to the two highest offices in the country, enabling Raka to participate in the elections. 

Educated in Singapore and Australia, Raka has a thriving entrepreneurial career. In 2020, he assumed the role of mayor in the city of Surakarta, Central Java, and is now eyeing the second-highest position in Indonesia after venturing into politics through his affiliation with the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party.

The third contender for the vice presidency is Ganjar Pranowo, 56. Formerly the governor of Central Java Province and now the presidential candidate for the alliance of political parties and the ruling Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party, Pranowo presents the rallying cry of "Economic Growth and Maritime Development." 

Pranowo’s commitments encompass generating 17 million jobs, achieving an average economic growth of seven percent to propel Indonesia into a high-income economy, and reducing the poverty rate to 2.5 percent. Pranowo also aspires to elevate Indonesia into a premier maritime nation by enhancing communication, the maritime industry, and coastal tourism. 

Pranowo’s agenda includes refining the quality of maritime transport, maximizing the use of sea lanes, fortifying the shipbuilding and fishing sectors, preserving the sea and coral reefs, increasing the contribution of the marine economy to the gross domestic product, delivering free healthcare, and instituting 12 years of free state-level education.

Seeking the vice presidency from the alliance of political parties is Mohamed Mahfud Mahmodin, aka Mahfud MD, 66. Currently serving as the coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs, he was the first civilian to assume this position, which was previously dominated by the military. 

With a rich and varied political career, MD had previously served as the president of the Constitutional Court. His tenure as a member of the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2008 positions him with experience across all three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Short link: