Indonesia’s main opposition party on Wednesday officially endorsed Prabowo Subianto for the 2019 presidential election, setting up a possible rematch of the 2014 race won by Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) announced the endorsement during its national coordination meeting in West Java attended by leaders of other political parties that could potentially support Prabowo’s candidacy.
“As long as I get the trust from Gerindra, I will do it. With all my energy, with all my soul and body!” Prabowo said in accepting the endorsement.
Party secretary general Ahmad Muzani said Prabowo has strong support from party leaders for the April 17, 2019, election.
“They convey the aspirations of constituents who want Prabowo to run,” Muzani said.
He dismissed concerns that Prabowo is not a strong candidate based on losing to Jokowi four years ago.
Jokowi, who defeated Prabowo by more than 6 percentage points in the popular vote, has received but has not officially accepted the endorsement of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Potential support from other parties
Gerindra falls 39 seats short of meeting the requirement of filling at least 112 seats in the 560-seat DPR (House of Representatives). Other parties have signaled potential support for Prabowo’s candidacy, including two Islam-based political parties, National Mandate Party (PAN), which has 49 seats; and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which has 40 seats.
PAN’s Chairman Zulkifli Hasan and Honorary Council Chairman Amien Rais, along with PKS President Sohibul Iman and Secretary General Mustafa Kamal, attended the meeting.
Jokowi’s coalition represents 290 DPR seats through a combination of 109 from PDI-P, 91 from Golkar Party and dozens from the United Development Party, Nasdem Party and Hanura Party.
‘Like an old movie,’ analysts say
Some analysts questioned the nomination.
Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, executive director of the Jakarta-based Voxpol Center Research and Consulting, said Prabowo’s candidacy can be a setback for Gerindra.
“Because we can say that people are tired already,” he told BenarNews, adding he predicts a repeat of the 2014 election.
“Prabowo is like an old movie and it is not interesting to watch again,” he said.
Yunarto Wijaya, a political analyst with the Jakarta-based Charta Politika, offered a similar opinion.
“Prabowo’s electability is still below Jokowi’s, which is around 65 percent to 70 percent,” he said.
Prabowo, a retired general and a former son-in-law of former President Suharto, the late dictator who ruled 32 years, has faced alleged human rights violations during his military career.
A former Kopassus commander, Prabowo’s forces were accused of killing civilians in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in 1983, according to Human Rights Watch. He also was accused of abducting a couple of pro-democracy student activists in 1998.
He has denied both allegations.