Prabowo becomes main contender 6 months ahead of Indonesia’s presidential polls

Mr Prabowo Subianto has got the backing of around half of the nine political groups in Parliament, leading him to be in front of the other two candidates in Indonesia’s five-yearly presidential election that is awaited for February 2024. In an astonishing decision on Sunday, the countrie’s most historic group Golkar and the Islamic-leaning National Mandate Party (PAN) promised help for the Defence Minister and previous army general. He had formerly saved support from his own Gerindra group and the Islamic-leaning National Awakening Party (PKB).

Parties helping Mr Prabowo’s candidacy command 46 per cent of Parliament seats. The other two presidential candidates, Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, 54, and previous Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, 54, have 26 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. “The extra political party backing would organize the momentum of Prabowo’s boosting electability,” Mr Sirojudin Abbas, a researcher at SMRC, a noted Jakarta-based pollster, told The Straits Times. Indonesian election law needs a party or a coalition of parties to have at least 20 per cent of Parliament seats to field a pair of presidential and vice-presidential candidates to the national election commission.

Mr Aditya Perdana, executive director at University of Indonesia’s Centre for Political Studies, said Golkar is being realistic and practical in his approach. “Prabowo is ruling on the electability survey,” he added. Mr Prabowo, 72, is in the good books of President Joko Widodo which is benefitting him. Mr Aditya has an opinion that Golkar, as the biggest group in the coalition, would naturally offer that the vice-presidential post be filled by its own cadre, who could be its chairman Airlangga Hartarto, who is 60 or renowned West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, who is 52.