Skip to main content

Road to the 2019 Indonesian Presidential Election

March 11, 2019

Who are the candidates?

JOKO WIDODO, presidential candidate

  • The 57-year old incumbent is the first Indonesian leader without links to the military, political, or religious elites.
  • He served as mayor of Solo and governor of the capital, Jakarta.
  • He won the 2014 presidential election on a platform of tackling corruption and investment in infrastructure.
  • During his presidency Indonesia has experienced steady annual growth of 5 percent, however below Widodo’s target of 7 percent.
  • He had pledged to deal with human rights violation cases, including the anti-communist purge of 1965, the 1998 riot in Jakarta and the killings of Muslim protesters in 1989 but has made little progress.

MA’RUF AMIN, Widodo’s vice-presidential candidate

  • The 75-year old cleric and politician has served as a lawmaker in local and national legislatures before he became the head of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI).
  • He also has led Indonesia’s largest mass Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) as its “supreme leader” since 2015. NU boasts as many as 40 million members and has considerable political influence.
  • In recent years, he oversaw fatwas (religious edict decrees) against the rights of religious minorities, including Ahmadiyah and Shia communities in the country, as well as LGBT people. The fatwas coincided with a surge in violent attacks on the groups.
  • Under his leadership, MUI also issued a fatwa calling for same-sex acts to be subject to punishment. The fatwa equates homosexuality with curable disease.
  • During Jakarta’s gubernatorial election last year, he condemned the incumbent governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as “Ahok”), as a blasphemer and testified against him when Purnama was put on trial for controversial statements he made at a public event. Although a witness at the trial, Amin admitted he had not actually viewed the video of Purnama’s speech that was the basis for the charge that he had insulted the Koran. Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was sentenced to two years in prison after losing the election. He denied wrongdoing.

PRABOWO SUBIANTO, presidential candidate

  • The 67-year old former general trades on his “strongman” image.
  • He served in the military from 1974-98 before being discharged after human rights violations in relation to coordinating riots in 1998 and the murders of pro-independence activists in Timor Leste. He has denied the allegations.
  • He married one of the daughters of former authoritarian leader Suharto, though the couple later divorced. He was head of the Army Strategic Reserve when protesters challenged Suharto’s rule, and Prabowo vehemently defended his former father-in-law. He was discharged from the military over the kidnapping of democracy activists soon after Suharto fell.
  • He was banned from entering the United States, among other countries, because of suspicion of human rights abuses in East Timor and Jakarta.
  • He unsuccessfully tried to become a presidential candidate in 2004, then stood for vice president in 2009 and president in 2014 but lost both contests.
  • He has recently warned of the influence of foreigners and the prospect of Indonesia breaking apart. He has also declared himself the candidate for the poor, vowing to address economic equality.
  • He retains strong support among nationalists, Islamists, and those favoring a “strongman” leader.

SANDIAGA UNO, Subianto’s vice-presidential candidate

  • The 49-year old entrepreneur and deputy governor of Jakarta was born in Sumatra but traces his roots to Sulawesi. This appeals to almost half of the country’s citizens who live outside the main island of Java.
  • Educated in the United States, with an MBA from George Washington University, he worked in investment banking before co-founding a private equity firm in 1998 after the Asian financial crisis.
  • Within a decade, he joined the ranks for Indonesia’s super rich, although not before several ruptures with business partners. Globe Asia magazine estimated his wealth at $500 million in June 2018.
  • He entered politics in 2015, linking up with Prabowo. An early political assignment was to plot a path to victory for Prabowo’s Gerindra party in the 2017 Jakarta governor election.
  • Gerindra prevailed in the most divisive campaign in recent Indonesian history. The popular incumbent governor Purnama plunged in the polls after he was accused of insulting the Koran.
  • There was speculation that Uno was chosen for his ability to fund the presidential campaign rather than his political insight.

(source: Kompas R&D)

Vision and Mission

Jokowi and Ma’ruf Amin

  • Platform: Indonesia Maju (Onward Indonesia)
  • Vision: The realization of an onward Indonesia that is sovereign, independent and reflects our national character, based on mutual cooperation
  • Missions:
    • Improving the quality of the Indonesian people
    • Productive, independent and competitive economic structure
    • Fair and equal development
    • Achieving a sustainable environment
    • Cultural progress that reflects the character of the nation (kepribadian bangsa)
    • Enforcement of a legal system that is corruption-free, dignified, and trusted
    • Protection for all nation and providing security for all citizens
    • Management of a clean, effective, and trusted government
    • The synergy of regional government within the framework of a unitary state

Prabowo and Sandi

  • Platform: Indonesia Menang (Indonesia Triumphant)
  • Vision: The realization of the nation and state of the Republic of Indonesia that is fair, prosperous, dignified, religious, sovereign in the political sector, stands on its own feet in the economic sector, and has a strong national personality in the cultural sector and guarantees a harmonious life between citizens regardless of ethnicity, social and racial background based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Missions:
    • Building a national economy that is fair, prosperous, high-quality, and environmentally sound by prioritizing the interests of the people of Indonesia through a political-economic path in accordance with articles 33 and 34 of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.
    • Building an Indonesian society that is intelligent, healthy, high-quality, productive, and competitive in a life that is safe, harmonious, peaceful, and dignified and protected by a fair social justice without discrimination.
    • Building justice in the legal field that is not selective and transparent, as well as realizing the unity of the Indonesian people through high-quality democratic paths in accordance with Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.
    • Rebuilding the noble values of the nation’s character (kepribadian) to create a just, prosperous, dignified, and friendly Indonesia, blessed by God Almighty.
    • Building a national defense and security system independently that is able to maintain the integrity of Indonesian territory.


Presidential Debates

The General Elections Commission (KPU) scheduled for five presidential debates before the April 17 election. The first debate made headlines before the actual events because the candidates had received a list of questions from the KPU beforehand. The decision sparked questions and criticism about the merits of giving the four cheat sheets.

Since then, the KPU decided to no longer give the candidates their questions, saying it had taken into account the public’s aspiration for livelier debates.

In the five debates, the candidate will talk about 25 topics and have a chance to communicate their platform to the public.

  • First debate (January 17, 2019)

Theme  : Law, human rights, corruption, and terrorism

Who      : Joko Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin vs Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno

  • Second debate (February 17, 2019)

Theme  : Food and energy, natural resources, and environment

Who      : Joko Widodo vs Prabowo Subianto

  • Third debate (March 17, 2019)

Theme  : Education, health, manpower, social and culture

Who      : Ma’ruf Amin vs Sandiaga Uno

  • Fourth debate (March 30, 2019)

Theme  : Ideology, governance, security and defense, and international relations

Who      : Joko Widodo vs Prabowo Subianto

  • Fifth debate (TBA)

Theme  : Economy and social welfare, finance, investment, trade and industry

Who      : Joko Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin vs Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno