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Three-Way Showdown Emerges As Indonesia Launches Campaign For February Presidential Election

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(CTN News) – Candidates commenced their campaigns for Indonesia’s upcoming presidential election, setting the stage for a three-way competition featuring a former special forces general and two former governors.

Amid pledges of a peaceful race, concerns have emerged about the potential exacerbation of religious and ethnic divides in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Indonesia: Key Figures Kick Off Campaigns Across the Archipelago

Ganjar Pranowo, the ruling party’s nominee and former governor of Central Java, initiated his 75-day campaign in Merauke, South Papua province.

Simultaneously, Anies Baswedan, former Jakarta governor, and his running mate, Muhaimin Iskandar, launched their efforts in Jakarta and Mojokerto, East Java.

With Java holding more than half of Indonesia’s population, it is expected to be a pivotal battleground in the February 14 election.

Prabowo Subianto, the third candidate and defense minister, along with running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, currently the mayor of Surakarta city, will commence their campaign on Friday, according to campaign team spokesman Nusron Wahid.

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Political Landscape and Electoral Dynamics

With nearly 205 million eligible voters, the 2024 elections in Southeast Asia’s largest democracy will decide President Joko Widodo’s successor. Opinion polls suggest a closely contested race between Subianto and Pranowo, with Baswedan consistently trailing in third place.

Political analyst Arya Fernandes notes the potential for dynamic shifts, given that around 30% of voters remain swing voters.

The Constitutional Court’s decision to allow Raka’s candidacy, despite the minimum age requirement of 40, could introduce new elements to the race.

Controversy Surrounding Ruling and Widodo’s Alleged Support

The court’s 5-4 decision in October, allowing Widodo’s 36-year-old son to run, has sparked debate due to alleged ethical lapses. Critics highlight the chief justice’s familial ties to Widodo and his last-minute changes to candidacy requirements.

Raka’s candidacy is seen by some as implicit support from Widodo for Subianto, leading rivals’ supporters to call for the president’s neutrality.

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Widodo’s Alleged Shift and Strategic Calculations

Analysts posit that Widodo’s support for Subianto represents a distancing from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, under whose banner he ran in previous elections.

By backing Subianto, Widodo aims to secure his policy legacy and political goals through his son’s candidacy, as noted by political analyst Nathanael Sumaktoyo. Sumaktoyo suggests that having his son in a high office will safeguard the family’s political influence.

In Sumaktoyo’s words, “It is not at all clear how Jokowi thinks he can persuade a military man to do his bidding once he is outside the circle of power.”

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