Jokowi Gambles on Defense as Indonesia Elections Come Down to the Wire

Indonesian Military, members of the TNI. cc Flickr sbamueller

With less than two weeks to go before much-anticipated presidential elections in Indonesia, the race between Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto is closer than anyone would have imagined. Where once there was no doubt that Jokowi would become Indonesia’s next president, now polls are suggesting that the contest is too close to call, owing in large part to a brilliant campaign by Prabowo. As the race tightens, the competing coalitions have been delving into new areas of policy to reach out to potential new supporters. This has led to a surprisingly strong position from Jokowi regarding the future of Indonesia’s armed forces, one that might come to influence the wider balance of power in the region.


Two Coalitions, Too Close to Call

After legislative elections earlier this year, no party garnered the necessary minimum number of seats to nominate a presidential candidate, setting the now familiar stage for a frenzy of coalition-forming. After the dust settled, there were two blocks: PDI-P, NasDem, and Hanura in support of Jokowi, and his biggest opponents, Golkar and Gerindra, joining together with PAN, PKS, PPP, and PBB in support of Prabowo.

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