In 2014, the people of Indonesia will vote to elect a new president. Among the candidates is former General Prabowo Subianto, who is rising in the polls. How is Subianto gaining such popularity?
After already serving 2 terms, Presidentis barred by a constitutional term limit from running for re-election in 2014. According to polls, former general Prabowo Subianto, now a successful businessman, is the favourite to become Indonesia’s next president. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) poll last month indicated that Prabowo is the best candidate, taking into account all other potential candidates in 2014. In the poll, he won 17.9%, compared to Megawati Sukarnoputri’s 15.3%, his main challenger.
"Prabowo leads the pack because he projects grit, firm leadership, and decisiveness- all of which are seen to be lacking in our current leadership," former Minister of Defenceexplains. Indeed, Subianto’s strong message resonates with the people and fuels his popularity.
The aspirant candidate positions himself as a “moderate nationalist”, similar to China, America, and Japan’s politicians during their economic transformation. "The key is that this nationalism must be moderate, calibrated, and mature. It must not go into extreme levels," he said. In Prabowo’s opinion, Indonesia should be open to foreign investment, without forgetting to protect its own national interests.
"We want foreign investment, but it must be win-win. (...) It must be rational, it must be cognizant of local and environmental needs, and it must be on a fair and level playing field,” he explained.
This willingness to defend his country’s interests seems to fit perfectly with public opinion of this emerging power, because at the same time Prabowo Subianto is appeasing Indonesia’s neighbours, underlining the country's close relationship with Singapore and other countries in the region.
"Ruthlessness may disqualify you from being President in the West, but not for Indonesians," states a well-known Western Ambassador. "He was a soldier and a son-in-law that has done everything to keep Indonesia united. Many here feel that his actions as a soldier were actions he had to do to keep the country together."
In this regard, it seems that Indonesia should be ready to offer itself to this candidate. Could other challengers conjure up the right profile to emerge as a real threat to his possibility of election?