Q&A: Indonesian President Prabowo Subianto is “confident” of winning the elections | elections

Jakarta, Indonesia – On February 14, more than 204 million Indonesians will have the opportunity to vote to choose their new president.

Current President Joko Widodo is serving his second and final term, and is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Voters can choose between three presidential candidates – Anies Baswedan, former governor of Jakarta, Jangar Pranowo, former governor of Central Java, and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.

Multiple opinion polls indicate that Prabowo is comfortably ahead of his rivals.

Prabowo tried twice to become Indonesia’s president – ​​and lost both times to Widodo.

Since 2019, he has served as Minister of Defense in the Widodo government.

Indonesia
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka are the front-runners in Wednesday’s elections (File: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP)

His deputy is 36 years old Gibran Raka Boomangrakathe president’s eldest son.

But victory remains uncertain. If no candidate is able to obtain at least 50% of the votes, a second round of voting will be held in June.

Although Prabowo is the most popular candidate, he is also polarizing. Rivals and human rights organizations have raised decades-old allegations of human rights abuses during his time in the military.

On the final day of the election campaign on Saturday, Prabowo held a rally at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, where he addressed thousands of supporters.

Behind the scenes, the 72-year-old sat down with Al Jazeera’s Asia correspondent Jessica Washington for an exclusive interview, sharing his thoughts on why young voters are drawn to his campaign and how he plans to win over critics.

Al Jazeera: It is the last day of the election campaign. Are you confident that you can win these elections in one round?

Prabowo Subianto: All the numbers show this way… popular enthusiasm. All the numbers show that we will go one round.

Al Jazeera: Youth enthusiasm was an essential part of the campaign. What is your message to your young supporters?

Prabowo Subianto: Today’s youth are more rational, more critical, more intelligent, and they feel what is real and what is not real.

I think they are very concerned about their future, so those who have a good program and a good strategy, those who have good commitments, are the ones that young people can identify with and can support.

Al Jazeera: Is there something specific about your campaign that attracts young people? Because your opponents might say it’s because of the tiktok dances and cartoon stickers. Is there a specific policy that attracts young people?

Prabowo Subianto: My policies are very rational and logical, adopting a logical approach that is actually based on all the works of our ancestors.

Building a nation does not take two years, but five years. It’s a period of one or two generations.

We must benefit from and build on everything our ancestors built. That is why the majority of people from all classes understand my message and support us. They realize that to build something, you must do so on a strong foundation and then build on success. Brick after brick, stone after stone.

Al Jazeera: You obviously have a lot of supporters but there are also some strong critics. If you win this election, you will become their president too. How will you navigate this?

Prabowo Subianto: I will work for the good of Indonesia. Not for a specific segment

She proved this when she lost badly in the recent elections in East Nusa Tenggara province. But when I became Minister of Defense, I built one of the largest and best technical institutes there. In the governorate where she lost.

do you understand? I don’t believe in short-term thinking, thinking small. I like to think broadly and long term.

Al Jazeera: If we look at the big picture, how do you see Indonesia’s role on the global stage, if you become president?

Prabowo Subianto: The good fortune we inherited from our founding fathers is the philosophy of non-alignment.

Indonesia respects all countries, and respects all great powers.

We want to have great relationships with everyone. We do not want to join a bloc against another bloc. Our position is unique. We are friends with everyone. In any conflict or competition, we are the ones who can be accepted by all sides.

Al Jazeera: What does Gibran bring to this partnership in terms of skills and experience?

Prabowo Subianto: More than 50 percent of our voters are under the age of 50. Young people are dynamic, intelligent and critical.

If you notice, the fact that there is a vice president under the age of 40, this is normal in many countries in the West. In Indonesia, it has become a bit of an issue, not because he is under 40 but because he is the son of President Joko Widodo, which makes some circles feel bad. But this is politics. You can’t please everyone all the time.

Al Jazeera: What will Indonesia look like under your presidency?

Prabowo Subianto: I hope Indonesia will become dynamic and better off economically. But most importantly, I want to alleviate poverty. I want to get rid of hunger. I want to eliminate stunting in Indonesian children. The numbers are not very good, with at least 25 percent of children suffering from stunting in remote areas. But even in West Java, there are children who do not eat well.

Al Jazeera: Saying they will support you in the polls and appearing at campaign events is one thing. It’s a different matter when it comes to actually showing up on February 14 and voting. Do you have any concerns about the reliability of your supporters?

Prabowo Subianto: From the enthusiasm of my supporters, I think they feel that our team is their real hope. I’m confident they will come, they feel they need leaders who can understand their needs, and who want to fight for them.

I would tell them, use your power. Once every five years, you have the power to choose the leaders who will fight for you. If you vote for me, I will defend you and fight for you.

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