Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Indonesia set for repeat of presidential election

Reuters, JAKARTA

Former Indonesian general Prabowo Subianto has accepted the endorsement of the main opposition party to stand as a candidate in next year’s presidential election, setting the stage for a rematch with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Subianto, who narrowly lost the election in 2014 to Widodo, is chairman of the nationalist Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) that forms the main opposition alongside two Muslim parties.

“We have affirmed that Mr Prabowo is ready to be a presidential candidate and has received the party’s mandate to proceed as presidential candidate in 2019,” Gerindra deputy chairman Arief Poyuono said by telephone from a party meeting.

Gerindra spokesman Irawan Ronodipuro said Subianto accepted the party’s mandate on Wednesday evening.

A presidential candidate needs the support of parties that together won 25 percent of the national vote in the previous legislative election or have 20 percent of seats in the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly.

Widodo, a former furniture salesman, is Indonesia’s first president to come from outside the political and military elite. He has gained the support of five parties and is currently well ahead in most opinion polls.

An Indo Barometer survey conducted in late January showed Widodo with 48.8 percent support, while Subianto had 22.3 percent and 28.9 percent were undecided.

While in office, Widodo has led a push to build infrastructure, but annual growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, at about 5 percent, has yet to reach the 7 percent he pledged when campaigning in 2014.

Subianto appeared to improve his political prospects last year after backing a successful challenge by former Indonesian minister of education and culture Anies Baswedan to win the powerful post of Jakarta governor.

However, the bitterly fought campaign to unseat ethnic Chinese and Christian then-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (鍾萬學), a close ally of Widodo, exposed deep religious and ethnic divisions in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

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