Indonesian politicians vie to become Prabowo Subianto's V-P running mate

Prabowo Subianto was recently named presidential candidate by Gerindra, Indonesia's largest opposition party.
Prabowo Subianto was recently named presidential candidate by Gerindra, Indonesia's largest opposition party.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several Indonesian politicians are vying to become the vice-presidential running mate of Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto.

Last week, despite doubts that he would succeed in his bid due to potential problems in forming a coalition, a stagnant electability rating and dwindling resources, Prabowo was named the presidential candidate by Gerindra, the country's largest opposition party.

Following the announcement, the former army general is now faced with the difficult task of building a coalition to meet the presidential threshold, improving his electability rating and above all, picking a running mate that could boost his chances of winning.

Over the weekend, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) began making overtures to Prabowo, hoping to further cement its relationship and secure the ultimate prize, the vice-presidential ticket.

On Saturday (April 21), Prabowo joined PKS president Sohibul Iman on a bike ride along the city's main thoroughfares in an event staged to celebrate the party's 20th anniversary.

"The PKS is a loyal friend. They did not abandon Prabowo Subianto and Gerindra during difficult times. So it is hard for me to abandon the PKS," Prabowo said in his speech.

The PKS had previously come up with a list of possible vice-presidential candidates for Prabowo including Sohibul, deputy advisory chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid, former party president Anis Matta and West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan.

The PKS leadership is expected to make a big announcement on the vice-presidential ticket soon.

"We plan to make our official candidate declaration before May 13," PKS executive board chairman Mardani Ali Sera told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "The PKS will whittle down the names (of the candidates) from nine to three, then Prabowo can just choose from among them."

While the PKS is working to promote its candidates to join Prabowo's ticket, the National Mandate Party (PAN) has made the same effort to woo the Gerindra leader.

The PAN leadership has agreed that party chairman Zulkifli Hasan is the best candidate to be Prabowo's running mate.

Several non-party figures have also been considered for Prabowo's running mate, including Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gatot Nurmantyo.

Charta Politika executive director Yunarto Wijaya said Anies would probably be Prabowo's best choice from an electability standpoint.

"Prabowo and Anies complement each other well. Prabowo is old, Anies is young; Prabowo is a military man, while Anies is a civilian," he said. "Anies also has an aura of victory around him since he won the Jakarta election, while Prabowo has had three failed presidential bids."

Anies has denied he has any intention to run in 2019.