Indonesia presidential candidates: How they measure up

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (L) chats with his vice presidential running mate Jusuf Kalla (R) during an event declaring their bid in the upcoming July 9 election, in Jakarta May 19, 2014. Jokowi received a major boost in th
Indonesian presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (L) chats with his vice presidential running mate Jusuf Kalla (R) during an event declaring their bid in the upcoming July 9 election, in Jakarta May 19, 2014. Jokowi received a major boost in the race to become president of the world's third-largest democracy on Monday when he picked popular former vice president Kalla as his running mate. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (L) and running mate Hatta Rajasa wave to supporters and journalists during a declaration as president and vice president candidates in Jakarta on May 19, 2014. Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra party
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (L) and running mate Hatta Rajasa wave to supporters and journalists during a declaration as president and vice president candidates in Jakarta on May 19, 2014. Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra party, an ex-general, is set to run against Joko Widodo, with his running mate Jusuf Kalla, for the presidency. -- PHOTO: AFP 

Indonesia's presidential election on July 9 will see a straight fight between two teams : Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla and Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa. Here's a look at the candidates and what they bring to the battle.

JOKO WIDODO

Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, 52, of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) has been in the job for less than two years, but he has won over many residents of the capital and beyond in his time there, propelling him to be a favourite for the presidency.

His biggest strength is his down-to-earth personality and approachable nature, which many voters find a refreshing change from other political leaders and officials.

He has also won kudos for taking a tough stand against corruption and capable administration of the capital city.

Mr Joko grew up in poverty and was a furniture businessman in Solo before entering politics. He was picked to run in the race for governor of Jakarta in 2012 after proving himself to be a competent and popular mayor of Solo.

His drawback is that he is not an engaging public speaker before big audiences, and many say he needs to spell out his plans for the country in greater detail. His relative silence on these issues have seen his ratings slip in recent months.

Some are also worried that he may not be able to do as well going from a governor to the presidency of a large and complex country such as Indonesia. Tied up with this concern is that this allows his party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri to exercise inordinate influence over his administration. 

JUSUf KALLA

Mr Jusuf Kalla, 72, is seen as the seasoned political hand who would help make up for Mr Joko's perceived weaknessess.

The Golkar veteran and former vice-president to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is known for his sharp political instincts and lobbying skills. Though Dr Yudhoyono found him a difficult deputy at times, Mr Kalla was an able operative in fending off attacks on the administration from opposition politicians trying to undermine the government.

Mr Kalla, who hails from South Sulawesi, can help court voters in eastern Indonesia to complement strong backing for Mr Joko from Java.

He is also a man with an extensive network. He heads both the Indonesian Red Cross and the Indonesian Council of Mosques and, although he does not have a position in Golkar, he retains many supporters within the party ranks. 

PRABOWO SUBIANTO

Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party patron Prabowo Subianto, 62, has become a recognisable figure to Indonesian voters ever since he ran as the vice-presidential candidate to PDI-P leader Megawati Sukarnoputri in 2009.

The pair didn't get far, but Mr Prabowo has effectively been campaigning since then.

He is known for his strong nationalist views and assertive personality.

Though the emergence of Mr Joko on the national scene last year hurt his ratings, his promise of firm leadership has kept support for him steady. He is now catching up on his rival.

The former three-star army general once commanded special forces unit Kopassus and the army strategic reserve command, Kostrad. Both his father and grandfather were Cabinet ministers. 

He was once married to then-president Suharto's daughter Siti Hediati Hariyadi.

He was discharged from the military in 1998 for his alleged role in the kidnapping of political activists prior to Suharto's downfall, and civil society activists have raised concerns over his human rights record.

Mr Prabowo's presidential bid is likely to benefit from the same slick campaign machine that helped Gerindra finish in third place, after the well-established PDI-P and Golkar, in the April legislative election.

He also heads the Indonesian Farmers' Association and the Association of Traditional Market Traders, enabling him to expand his support among large constituencies across Java and beyond.

HATTA RAJASA

Prabowo Subianto's lack of experience in the civilian bureaucracy is more than made up for by his running mate Hatta Rajasa, 60, who resigned as Coordinating Minister for the Economy last week to run in the presidential campaign.

Mr Hatta, who heads the National Mandate Party (PAN), has been in Cabinet since 2001. His daughter is married  to Democratic Party secretary-general Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president's younger son.

The business and foreign investor community has expressed concern about the nationalist policies introduced under his watch, such as renegotiating mining contracts with foreign investors that the ministry deemed unfair to Indonesia.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg