JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s Election Commission announced Monday that it has approved all three presidential candidates for next February’s election, including a former special forces general whose vice-presidential running mate is the son of outgoing President Joko Widodo.
The commission said all of the candidates had passed the legal requirements. Last month, the Constitutional Court in a controversial 5-4 ruling allowed Widodo’s son, 36-year-old Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to run despite not meeting the minimum age requirement of 40 for presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
The court, headed by Widodo’s brother-in-law, said it granted an exception for Raka because he is currently mayor of Surakarta. Pro-democracy activists criticized the decision as nepotism that undermined the democratic process. The chief justice was later dismissed after the court’s ethics council found him guilty of a serious violation.
Raka is the running mate of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who is currently defense minister. Prabowo is the only candidate with links to the 1967-98 Suharto dictatorship, when he was a lieutenant general. He was later discharged for alleged human rights violations that were never proven in court. Prabowo ran unsuccessfully against Widodo in the past two elections.
Ganjar Pranowo, the governing party’s candidate, served two terms as Central Java governor. While governor, he refused to allow Israel to participate in the Under-20 FIFA World Cup to be held in his province. Indonesia was subsequently dropped as host of the games. His vice-presidential running mate is Muhammad Mahfud, the current security minister.
The third presidential candidate is Anies Baswedan, the former head of an Islamic university who served as governor of Jakarta until last year, having won a divisive election against a Chinese Christian incumbent backed by Widodo. His running mate, Muhaimin Iskandar, is chairman of the Islam-based National Awakening Party.
Nearly 205 million people are eligible to vote on Feb. 14, with the winner to succeed Widodo after he completes the maximum of two terms leading Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
“We hope that the 2024 elections will be competitive and of course honest and fair,” said Adi Prayitno, a political analyst from the State Islamic University in Jakarta. “The 2024 election process will have black marks left behind, especially regarding … the quite extraordinary ethical violation.”
A recent survey of 1,220 potential voters by Indikator Politik Indonesia, an independent research institute, published Sunday found that 39.7% of the respondents favored Subianto, while 30% chose Pranowo and 24.4% said they would vote for Baswedan.
It said the survey, conducted Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, had a margin of error of 2.9%. The results indicated a significant shift in support for the candidates since the previous survey on mid-October, when Subianto had not yet announced that Raka was his running mate and Pranowo was in the lead.
“Public perception of the issue of political dynasties does not appear to have changed much after the closing of registration for presidential and vice-presidential candidates at the Election Commision, in fact there is a tendency for people to be a little more tolerant or less worried,” Indikator Politik said.
Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, is holding both presidential and legislative elections in February.
The candidates will begin a 75-day election campaign on Nov. 28, including five presidential debates.