Bisnis Asia

Indonesia's presidential election 2024

20 November 2023 | By Helen Brown

Indonesia is on the brink of a significant political shift and it's one that business needs to be aware of and prepare for. 

The election commission has greenlit three presidential candidate teams, setting the stage for a dynamic contest. Let’s delve into the contenders (all male) and their respective traits:


  1. Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar

Anies is the former governor of Jakarta. He presents well and his polished style is attractive to investors. However, concerns linger from his 2016/2017 gubernatorial campaign tactics, leaving scars on Jakarta’s populace.


  1. Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD

Ganjar, another former governor is similarly well-polished and possibly has broader appeal, supported by the influential Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (P-DIP).


  1. Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka

This is former special forces general Prabowo’s third bid for the presidency at the age of 72, and is surprisingly gaining popularity. Despite ties to the old Suharto regime and human rights allegations, younger voters perceive him as ‘authentic.’

Campaign leaflets pasted on to back of chair, sidestreet in Jakarta, 2023. Image credit: Helen Brown

Current President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) concludes his two terms amid criticism for fostering a political family dynasty. A Constitutional Court decision on candidate eligibility facilitated his son becoming Prabowo’s running mate. The Chief Justice, at the time of the decision, is Jokowi’s brother-in-law and political commentators say the decision opens the way for later challenges.


The Indonesian public, wary of political dynasties, faces uncertainty about this development. There is disappointment from many that the ‘man-of-the-people’ has seemingly adopted the ‘old ways’.  For businesses, maintaining professional relationships remains crucial during this transformative period.


What the general voting population of nearly 205 million will make of this is unknown. It’s a moment of change. Especially as the world’s third largest democracy is holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections.


Being popular is the goal and candidates are not straying far from Jokowi’s program of policies designed to leverage Indonesia’s natural resources, particularly in minerals, build infrastructure including the new capital city of Nusantara, creating an electric vehicle ecosystem and transitioning to green energy.


Other promises look similar to those seen during democratic elections, and include increased research and development spending, a free school lunch program and healthcare improvements. 


While the fundamentals are expected to be similar, business needs to be highly attuned to government policy and aspiration. The intersection between government policies and corporate strategies requires nuanced navigation.


After the election itself, the most important decision will be who takes the reins of the economy