JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo may find himself without a challenger in the next election.
While Mr Prabowo Subianto - leader of the main opposition party and runner-up in the 2014 election - has accepted his party's endorsement, it is uncertain if he can assemble a viable coalition to be nominated by an August deadline.
Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, is leading in opinion polls and wooing the former general, who is seen as his only real competition.
The lack of a credible contender in next year's election would raise questions over Indonesia's young democracy, as well as Mr Joko's commitment to reforms. He has recently faced criticism for distorting market mechanisms, risking a higher budget deficit and jeopardising much-needed foreign investment in South-east Asia's biggest economy.
"If Prabowo doesn't run, either because he can't secure the necessary support from other parties or because he makes an improbable alliance with the Jokowi camp, it would increase the likelihood of a one-horse race come April 2019," said Mr Hugo Brennan, a Jakarta-based senior Asia analyst at risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft.
"Such a scenario would be a setback for Indonesia's still-young democracy."
Earlier in his term, Mr Joko undertook reforms that won him praise and secured Indonesia its all-important sovereign rating upgrades - paving the way for billions more in foreign investment.
In recent months, however, his government has intervened with price controls on staple foods and placed caps on coal input prices for electricity generation.
The distortions risk widening the budget deficit, said Mr Peter Mumford, South-east Asia director at Eurasia Group.
"The bigger risk for investors is the general intensification of economic nationalism," Mr Mumford said. "His government is also planning protectionist measures on commodity shipping and insurance, which could further squeeze the role of foreign firms in the sector."
Added to this, Indonesia's economy expanded at a slower pace last quarter than economists had forecast and remains well short of the 7 per cent growth targeted by Mr Joko.
A party or coalition must have at least 20 per cent of seats in Parliament or have won a minimum 25 per cent of the popular vote in the last legislative election to nominate a candidate.
Mr Joko has secured the support of five of the 10 parties in Parliament, leaving Mr Prabowo's Gerindra - with 13 per cent of the seats - to secure support from the few parties left in order to get across the line.
The Prosperous Justice Party (7.1 per cent) and National Mandate Party (7.6 per cent) are the most likely partners for Gerindra.
But neither has declared their hand and could even support Mr Joko, who already has the backing of political heavyweights Golkar and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle .
Mr Joko has a commanding lead in the polls. A survey published on April 23 showed him with 56 per cent support, compared with 14.1 per cent for Mr Prabowo.
Other potential candidates, including former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's son Agus Yudhoyono, are barely blips on the radar.
Independent political analyst Kevin O'Rourke said parties with seats in Parliament have been focused on patronage-style politics rather than pursuit of an ideological agenda or reform, leading to a "dearth" of potential presidential candidates.
"That's why there is a situation right now where Widodo is potentially unopposed as president," said O'Rourke, author of Reformasi: The Struggle For Power In Post-Soeharto Indonesia.