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The polls have closed in Indonesia’s presidential election. Who’s in the running?

Today, almost 205 million Indonesians cast a vote for their new president.

The three candidates are not new faces in Indonesian politics — one has been running in presidential elections for the past 15 years.

Here are their profiles, and some of the key issues that may have swayed voters.

But first, a quick rundown of the election.

Indonesian election at a glance

  • In the world’s largest single-day election, Indonesians have voted for the president and vice-president as well as parliamentary and local representatives
  • The country’s 580 parliamentary seats were contested by 18 political parties
  • About half of Indonesia’s roughly 205 million registered voters are under 40
  • The minimum voting age is 17, and turnout in past elections has been about 75 per cent despite voting not being compulsory
  • A presidential candidate needs more than 50 per cent of overall votes and at least 20 per cent of votes in at least 20 provinces to win
  • If no candidate has achieved this, a run-off will be held in June between the two leaders
  • Unofficial results should be clear within 24 hours of voting but the official result won’t be announced until 35 days after
  • The new president will take office in October

The three candidates:

Anies Baswedan

Anies Baswedan was initially known as an academic, having been the youngest university rector in Indonesia at the age of 38.

In 2009, he initiated the “Indonesia Mengajar'” (Indonesia Teaches) program to address teacher shortages in schools by sending volunteers to remote parts of the country.

Mr Baswedan was elected into politics in 2014 and appointed education minister by President Joko Widodo.

He only lasted two years before Mr Widodo undertook a ministerial reshuffle.

In 2017, Mr Baswedan became the governor of Jakarta, a post he held for five years.

For this presidential election, Mr Baswedan teamed up with Muhaimin Iskandar, the leader of the moderate Muslim party the National Awakening Party (PKB).

Mr Iskandar served as the labour minister from 2009 to 2014.

Two middle-aged men, wearing batik shirts, both wearing glasses smile at the camera.

Who’s behind him?

Mr Baswedan is not a member of any political party.

But the pair are backed by the National Democratic Party, and three Islamic-based parties.

What does he offer?

Mr Baswedan’s campaign narrative has focused on change, moving away from many of Mr Widodo’s ongoing government programs, one of which is the construction of the new $49 billion capital city in Kalimantan.

Apart from the fact that the decision to establish the city did not go through public debate, Mr Baswedan believes that the country has more urgent needs.

He is also known for his unique campaigning.

Through a series of forums called Desak Anies (meaning urge Anies) the public was able to directly question Mr Baswedan.

What’s standing between him and the presidency?

In the lead-up to the Jakarta election in 2017, Mr Baswedan was accused of identity politics and intolerance, after staying silent when Muslim groups attacked his rival, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

The Chinese-Indonesian, Christian governor, who is known as Ahok, mentioned a verse from the Koran about Muslims being prohibited from choosing leaders who are not Muslims.

Ahok was eventually sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Mr Baswedan has denied he was intolerant.

“I was labelled based on assumptions, based on a campaign … and after I served in Jakarta for five years, you’d have solid evidence to judge whether I am biased, whether I am fair,” Mr Baswedan told the ABC in December.

What are the chances?

In the early days of his campaign, Mr Baswedan and his running mate were last in the polls.

But since the first presidential debate, Mr Baswedan’s popularity has risen and he is now ranked second-favourite to win, according to various surveys.

Prabowo Subianto

Prabowo Subianto first contested the presidential election in 2009 as the vice-presidential candidate with then-incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri.

He was unsuccessful but ran again for the presidency in 2014 and 2019 against Mr Widodo.

Currently, he’s the defence minister.

Mr Subianto is also the founder and chair of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

For this election, he has paired with Mr Widodo’s eldest son — Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

Two men, the left is in his 30s, the right is in his 70s. Wearing light blue clothes, waving at the camera.
Supplied: Reuters

Who’s behind him?

A large coalition, including the majority of nationalist parties and two Islamic-based parties, has supported the pair.

By running alongside the son of Mr Widodo, he is hoping to capitalise on the popularity and image of the outgoing president.

What does he offer?

In contrast to Mr Baswedan, Mr Subianto has offered a narrative of continuity, promising to push ahead with many of Mr Widodo’s policies and initiatives, including the new capital city.

Mr Subianto has also promised a free lunch program for students and pregnant mothers, continued nickel mining projects, increased numbers of doctors across Indonesia, and more scholarships to study abroad.

What’s standing between him and the presidency?

Mr Subianto has been dogged by alleged human rights violations from his days as a commander of Indonesia’s special forces.

He is alleged to have ordered the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in the final months of Suharto’s authoritarian regime.

“I feel that I am a very strong defender of human rights,” Mr Subianto said.

“In fact, the people who were previously detained, political prisoners who were said to have been kidnapped by me, are now on my side, defending me.”

Mr Raka’s candidacy has also been problematic.

Despite being too young, the constitutional court backed a controversial loophole that allowed him to run for president or vice-president.

Investigations later found both the constitutional court and the elections commission had breached ethics in their handling of Mr Raka’s candidacy.

What are the chances?

It’s looking good for the son of the outgoing president and Mr Subianto.

Most polls have had the pair well ahead in the three-way battle.

Ganjar Pranowo

Before running for president, Ganjar Pranowo was the governor of Central Java, a province of 37 million people.

Mr Pranowo was a member of parliament between 2004 and 2013 and served in various commissions including agriculture and home affairs.

He is a member of the same party as Mr Widodo, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP).

Mr Pranowo is paired with Professor Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, commonly known as Mahfud MD, who was serving as the minister for political, legal, and security affairs until earlier this month.

A middle-aged man with white hair in a black shirt, together with a man in a black cap and green shirt, smiles at the camera.

Who’s behind him?

In addition to the PDIP, Mr Pranowo is supported by two other nationalist parties and one Islamic party.

What does he offer?

If Mr Baswedan offers change and Mr Subianto promises continuity, Mr Pranowo is somewhere in between.

He has said he would continue Mr Widodo’s legacy while making necessary improvements.

His campaign promises included improved access to healthcare, free internet, and a national ID card that can be used to access government assistance.

Mr Pranowo’s campaign strategy has included unusual elements.

He has been spending the night in people’s homes to get a taste of their lives and hear their complaints.

A few weeks ago, Mr Pranowo stayed at the house of Supriyadi, a Central Javanese resident of Chinese descent.

“When I was told that he would stay at my house, I had mixed feelings, between confusion, pride, and how to treat him later,” Supriyadi told local media.

What’s standing between him and the presidency?

Mr Pranowo faced corruption allegations in 2017 when he was an MP over a case from years earlier.

He denied taking bribes as part of an electronic ID card procurement process in 2011-2012 and was later cleared by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission. 

The way he handled land acquisition cases for residents of Wadas and Kendeng in Central Java, so mines and cement factories could operate, was not popular.

“Wadas was a national strategic project and as a representative of the central government in the regions, I am not a person who just washes my hands,” Mr Pranowo told ABC in December.

“I never regret the decision I made because it was well considered.” 

What are the chances?

A year ago, the former Central Java governor was the man to beat, polling more than 10 points ahead of his rivals.

Recently, he’s slipped to last.

Source: ABC News