The people of Southeast Asia’s largest democracy will go to the polls on February 14, 2024.
There will be a public holiday, but not on Valentine’s Day.
Instead, more than 200 million registered voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote for who they think should replace Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as Indonesia’s president.
The winner will receive the mandate to determine the future of one of the most prominent ASEAN countries for the next five years. In case you haven’t caught up, here’s a quick guide to everything Mothership covered this most important election.
We begin with a popular incumbent who is about to leave office due to term limits.
Jokowi, who won the 2014 and 2019 elections, enjoys high personal popularity among the Indonesian public.
Its signature policies include infrastructure investment and prioritization internal processing of natural resourcesrather than simply exporting them in a raw form called “downstream”.
Prabovo and Gibran
Prabowo Subianto was the first contender.
The 72-year-old faced Jokowi in both 2014 and 2019, losing both times.
After his defeat in the 2019 elections, there were stormy protests which unfortunately resulted in at least six deaths.
However, Prabowo was invited by Jokowi to work in his government as defense minister.
Prabowo nominated Jebran Rakabuming Raku, the 36-year-old elected mayor of Surakarta, as his vice-presidential candidate.
Gibran is also Jokowi’s son.
However, Gibran’s candidacy faced obstacles.
Under Indonesian law, a candidate had to be at least 40 years old to run for president or vice president.
Fortunately for Gibran, the court ruled that a candidate under the age of 40 could run if he had previously held an elected regional office.
This opened the way for Gibran to be chosen as Prabowo’s partner. Jokowi said that as a father he could not prevent his adult son from pursuing his own political career.
Prabowo and Gibran were the last to officially register their candidacy.
Meanwhile, the chief judge of the court that ruled in Gibran’s favor was found guilty of “serious misconduct” and demoted.
The chief justice, Anwar Usman, happens to be Jokowi’s son-in-law, and therefore related to Gibran.
Ganjar and Mahfud
The candidate from Jokowi’s own party, PDI-P, is Ganjar Pranovo, a former governor of Central Java.
He announced that Dr. Mahfoud, then Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, would be his running mate.
Anis and Muhaimin
Another candidate is Anis Baswedan, a former governor of Jakarta and an independent candidate supported by a number of other parties.
Anies chose Muhaimin Iskandar, the head of the National Awakening Party (PKB), as his running mate.
The former education minister stressed that he wanted to ensure “equal opportunities” for work, healthcare and a better life through education as part of his election bid.
The court dismissed a lawsuit filed against Prabowo to disqualify him from running for office because of his age.
Three pairs of candidates were prepared for the 2024 elections.
The campaign began in November 2023, when memes and images created by artificial intelligence showed their early impact on the distribution of messages among voters.
The candidates also faced controversy.
Gibran, who studied in Singapore, questioned his education.
An online commenter asked how Gibran could obtain a degree in the UK while studying in Singapore, apparently unaware of the existence of MDIS.
This prompted Gibran to show his diploma as proof.
Prabowo also found time to visit fellow minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who was recuperating in a Singapore hospital.
Jokowi’s influence was also felt as he urged his successor not to undo his economic policies, particularly his signature “downgrade” industrial policy, the backbone of his plan to transform Indonesia into an economic powerhouse by 2045.
At least one academic, speaking at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak regional forum, believes all three candidates will continue Jokowi’s policies in infrastructure, social protection and goods.
During the first presidential debate, the candidates hit each other on perceived vulnerabilities.
Ganjar asked if Prabowo would form a special human rights court to deal with past cases of serious human rights violations.
Prabowo is accused of human rights violations while serving in the Indonesian army.
Prabowo replied that Ganjar should not politicize human rights.
Anies also came under fire for his handling of air pollution during his tenure as Jakarta governor.
Prabowo asked why, during the five years Anies was governor, the Indonesian capital often had the highest pollution index in the world.
Añez replied that he had implemented various measures to control air pollution and that high pollution in Jakarta did not happen every day.
Ganjara also criticized Prabowo for his management of fertilizers for farmers in Central Java.
The vice-presidential debate was equally heated, with Gibran and Mahfoud embroiled in an exchange of views on the meaning of “green inflation”.
Gibran’s apparent disrespectful gesture drew criticism from observers, while others found it amusing.
During the campaign, Gibran and Mahfoud found themselves in hot water over remarks about women.
Gibran confused folic acid with sulfuric acid when discussing pregnancy, and Mahfoud said that many men became corrupt “because of their wives.”
Gibran was summoned by the election watchdog for alleged campaign violations because he handed out free milk during a “car-free day” where political activity is prohibited.
Mahfoud’s Instagram was targeted by hackers who shared videos of Israeli soldiers, demonstrating the relevance of the current crisis in Gaza in the minds of Indonesian voters.
Prabovo is leading
Despite various controversies, the Prabovo-Dzhebran couple confidently led the way.
This has prompted his two rivals to publicly consider forming a coalition if the election continues to a second round.
In order for Prabowo to win in a landslide and avoid a runoff, he needs more than 50 percent of the total vote, including enough votes in a certain number of Indonesian provinces.
The issue of conflict of interest
Jokowi then grabbed headlines after he said the president could “pick a side” in the election.
He said this during a military event, where Prabowo was present as the Minister of Defense.
Afterwards, Jokowi quickly explained that he was simply explaining the law, as Indonesian law states that the president can participate in an election campaign if government facilities are not being used.
Meanwhile, Mahfoud resigned from his cabinet position to avoid a possible conflict of interest.
The political neutrality of one of Indonesia’s largest religious organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama, has also been called into question after a prominent cleric said its members were encouraged to support Prabowo.
In the final days of the election campaign, even more controversy arose over the three candidates.
The head of the election commission received “the last severe warning” for ethical violations related to Gibran’s candidacy, other commissions also received severe warnings.
Meanwhile, a comedian who made a religious joke at an Anies rally will be tried in court for alleged blasphemy.
Jakarta’s controversial ex-governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, has announced he will resign from his position at an Indonesian state-owned company to openly campaign for Ganjar.
February 10, 2024 was the last official day of agitation.
Hundreds of millions of Indonesians will make their choice on February 14, and the eyes of the world will be watching.
Stay informed about the 2024 Indonesian elections
@mothershipsg A Guide to Indonesian Presidential Candidates: Anies Baswedan. The former Jakarta governor will run in the February 14, 2024 general election as an independent candidate supported by the Coalition for Change for Unity (KPP). #tiktoksg #Indonesia #sgnews ♬ original sound – Mothership @mothershipsg Guide to Indonesian Presidential Candidates: Prabowo Subianto. The former general will run in the general election on February 14, 2024 as a candidate from the Gerindra party. #tiktokindonesia #world news #tiktoksg #sgnews ♬ original sound – Mothership @mothershipsg Directory of Indonesian Presidential Candidates: Ganjar Pranowo. The former governor of Central Java will run in the general election on February 14, 2024 as a PDI-P candidate. #Indonesia #tiktoksg #sgnews #LearnToTikTok ♬ original sound – Mothership
Main image from Anies Baswedan, Prabowo Subianto and Ganjar Pranowo Facebook pages.