Jokowi vs Prabowo: Indonesian election to focus on economy, corruption


The candidates must create new momentum, Wijaya said. “If the public’s narration and conversation related to the presidential election is flat like now, Jokowi will maintain the rhythm and Prabowo will lose.”

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Prabowo blamed low salaries of government officials, including judges and police as the root cause for rampant corruption in a country that Transparency International ranks alongside Colombia and Zambia as the 96th most corrupt among 176 nations.

“We must be able to ensure the quality of life of all officials that have the authority to make a decision so that they can’t be bribed,” Prabowo said. “With clean and strong institutions, we will be able to uphold the law.”

Prabowo has picked as his running mate Sandiaga Uno, a business-savvy former private equity investor. He blames the high public debt and slump in the currency to levels not seen since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis as examples of Jokowi’s mismanagement of the economy. The former general is proposing to revitalise Southeast Asia’s largest economy by slashing taxes on companies and individuals if elected.

Jokowi and rival Prabowo Subianto shake hands in the first election debate. PHOTO: Bloomberg DIMAS ARDIAN

He’s also calling for a review of Indonesia’s economic relations with China, the nation’s largest trading partner. With the country posting a record trade deficit last year, Prabowo plans to “seek a better deal” with China and will push for bilateral talks, according to Irawan Ronodipuro, director of foreign affairs for the Prabowo campaign.

Jokowi, who has mostly limited his campaigning so far to inaugurating toll roads and airports, is seeking a mandate to carry on his agenda of better connecting the country’s scattered islands and transforming Indonesia from a commodity-reliant economy into a manufacturing power. His government has spent billions of dollars dollars to add roads, ports, dams and airports and created millions of new jobs.

Jokowi, who is supported by nine political parties, picked conservative cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate, partly to fend off attacks from conservative groups, which accuse him of not doing enough to protect the interests of Muslims.

In contrast Prabowo is backed by hardline groups which were behind large public protest against former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, who was later jailed after being found guilty of blasphemy.

They’ve already rallied behind Prabowo and their enthusiasm may help him build the momentum in the final months, according to Alexander R. Arifianto, a research fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“Prabowo does have a large number of strong hard-core followers at grassroots level who are quite determined to help him score an upset against Jokowi,” Arifianto wrote in an email. “I believe it is premature to write off Prabowo at this point, despite Jokowi’s double-digit lead.”



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