JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia holds a presidential election in February next year, with three men vying for the top job in the world’s third-largest democracy and its most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Here are details of the candidates expected to register and their running mates.
The former special forces commander is making a third run at the presidency having twice lost to outgoing President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, in 2014 and 2019.
A recent poll of potential candidates by Lembaga Survei Indonesia showed Prabowo top with the support of 34% support.
Prabowo, 72, comes from an elite family and commands a huge following, despite allegations of human rights violations over the kidnapping of democracy activists during turmoil in the late 1990s. He has denied wrongdoing.
In previous elections, he forged alliances with conservative Islamic groups and political parties criticised for stoking communal tensions and creating rifts in the secular, pluralistic country. After losing the 2019 election, Jokowi appointed Prabowo defence minister, a move analysts say helped heal divisions. Jokowi has tacitly backed Prabowo.
Prabowo chairs the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party, which endorsed him as its presidential candidate last year.
Potential running mates:
Gibran Rakabuming Raka – The president’s eldest son, who has served as Surakarta mayor since 2020, a position once held by his father. Speculation has been rife Gibran, 36, would partner with Prabowo after the Constitutional Court ruled a minimum age requirement of 40 for candidates need not apply in all cases. However, outrage over that ruling could lead Prabowo to pick another candidate.
Erick Thohir – A businessman-turned-politician who once owned Italian football giant Inter Milan, Erick, 53, heads Indonesia’s football association and serves as State Owned Enterprises Minister. He is among Jokowi’s closest allies and has overseen consolidation of state firms, pushing for more public listings to improve governance.
Khofifah Indar Parawansa – One of Indonesia’s most prominent female politicians, the popular, 58-year-old East Java governor has been courted by all three presidential candidates. Khofifah previously served as women’s empowerment minister and social affairs minister and has strong connections to grassroots movements and the women’s wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, one of Indonesia’s biggest Islamic organisations.
The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle has pinned its hopes on Ganjar, a former governor of Central Java, one of the country’s most populous provinces. He was second in the latest poll on the presidency, with 30.4% support.
Like Jokowi, who comes from humble beginnings, 54-year-old Ganjar, a former lawmaker, has gained huge support from ordinary Indonesians as a leader from outside of the political and military elite. Ganjar, who has also received backing from Jokowi, hopes his popularity on social media and with young voters will bring him victory.
Ganjar topped opinion polls for months until he backed a call to stop Israel taking part in the under-20 soccer World Cup, for which Indonesia was subsequently dropped as host.
Mahfud MD – Indonesia’s widely respected coordinating security affairs minister brings integrity to the Ganjar ticket and the possibility of crucial votes from the influential Nahdlatul Ulama. Mahfud MD, whose real name is Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, is a former Constitutional Court judge who has taken a stand against graft, including within security agencies and was outspoken over high-profile police corruption cases and attempts to change the constitution to extend presidential terms.
Despite his huge popularity from 2017-2022 as governor of Jakarta, a position once held by Jokowi and considered a springboard to the presidency, academic and politician Anies has trailed in opinion polls in recent months.
Anies, 54, was praised for his COVID-19 response but criticised for his handling of recurrent flooding in the sprawling, congested capital.
He is not a member of a political party but is backed by three parties, including a secular party in the ruling coalition and the conservative Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
His rise in 2017 was controversial as he accepted the endorsement of hardline Islamist groups that had agitated against his opponent and then-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – an ethnic Chinese Christian – who was later jailed for insulting Islam. Anies, who espouses moderate Islam, was accused of doing little to mend widening religious and communal rifts, which he has refuted.
Muhaimin Iskandar – Better known as Cak Imin, the 57-year-old is head of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and has served as deputy speaker of the People’s Representative Council since 2019, and labour minister from 2009-2014. He is relative of Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur, a well-respected former president and religious leader. He has strong networks within the Nahdlatul Ulama and is expected to draw votes to the Anies ticket from his base in East Java.
(Compiled by Ananda Teresia and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Martin Petty)