Indonesia presidential candidate Prabowo picks Jokowi’s son as running mate

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia’s defence minister and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Sunday announced incumbent leader Joko Widodo’s eldest son as his running mate for next year’s election.

The choice of Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, could be a boost for Prabowo’s campaign due to Jokowi’s huge popularity, even amid outrage this week over a court decision to change an eligibility requirement that would have prevented Gibran from running.

Speaking after a meeting of his party and its coalition partners, Prabowo told a press conference there had been an agreement to nominate him as presidential candidate and Gibran Rakabuming Raka as vice presidential candidate.

The world’s third-largest democracy will hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 14, with nearly 205 million of Indonesia’s more than 270 million population eligible to vote.

Prabowo, 72, has led most opinion polls this year, including two this week, albeit by a narrow margin over the ruling party’s Ganjar Pranowo, a former Central Java governor, with ex-Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan a distant third.

Ganjar and Anies, both 54, had signed up for the race on Thursday, the opening day of registration for presidential candidates.

Jokowi said this week he had no involvement in presidential candidates, but political insiders have said the outgoing leader is seeking to retain influence and has been covertly marshalling support for former rival Prabowo, having earlier appeared to have backed Ganjar as the candidate of his PDI-P party.


Asked about the possibility of his son’s nomination earlier on Sunday, President Jokowi said he will be “leaving it to the political parties’ coalition,” adding that a parents’ job is to pray for their children and give their blessings.

The alliance with Gibran could transfer some of Jokowi’s support base to Prabowo and in turn boost the outgoing leader’s chances of determining his own legacy by ensuring completion of key economic programmes he initiated, some analysts say.

Gibran, the 36-year-old mayor of Surakarta city, stoked controversy following a ruling from a top court that changed the eligibility rules which paved the way for him to stand as a vice presidential candidate.

Political insiders say Gibran’s nomination is a way for Jokowi, as the outgoing president is commonly known, to retain influence and say he has been covertly marshalling support for Prabowo, whom he beat twice to win the presidency in 2014 and 2019.

There was no immediate comment from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which the president and Gibran are listed as members.

Prabowo said he plans to register his candidacy to the election commission on Wednesday Oct. 25, which is the last day for registration.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Holmes)