Everybody has been expecting the 2019 Indonesian presidential election to be a rematch between the incumbent, Joko Widodo, and Gerindra chairman and former general Prabowo Subianto. Despite some delays and setbacks (i.e. last week’s Ghost Fleet fiasco), Gerindra officials have held the line and consistently told the public and media that Prabowo’s 2019 run was essentially assured and that he would he officially declare his candidacy in April.
However, cracks in that narrative have been starting to appear and they seem especially serious now that Prabowo’s own brother and trusted advisor, Gerindra Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Hashim Djojohadikusumo, has publicly said that there was a possibility Prabowo’s presidential campaign might not happen.
“”The one who determines all is God Almighty. You can believe that. Anything is possible,” Hashim was quoted as saying today by Detik. (Note: Hashim said “Anything is possible” in English)
A much less vague indication that Prabowo might not run was Hashim’s seemingly odd statement that Prabowo would immediately declare his candidacy if Gerindra were to win big in this year’s regional elections (which are taking place throughout Indonesia this June).
Specifically, he said Prabowo would declare immediately if Gerindra were to win 17 of the country’s gubernatorial races.
Gerindra’s candidates winning the governor’s races in more than half of the country’s provinces seems like a lofty goal (especially since not every one of Indonesia’s 33 provinces is even holding a gubernatorial election this year).
If, as Hashim says, Prabowo is waiting for the results of the regional elections to help determine whether he will run or not, it would also mean that he wouldn’t declare until at least June, which is in contradiction to almost every other Gerindra official who have said that their chairman would officially announce his candidacy on April 11.
Hashim said that rumors that money was a concern holding Prabowo back were false, as he still had plenty of funds to run a presidential campaign. But he did mention that other factors, such as health, were among the many still being evaluated.
While head-to-head surveys between Prabowo and Jokowi show the former generally faring quite poorly, it’s hard to imagine a 2019 election that didn’t include the Gerindra chief since there are simply no other potential candidates polling anywhere even remotely close to the incumbent at the moment.
We’ll have to wait and see if, in spite of Hashim’s statements today, Prabowo does go ahead and declare on April 11 anyways. If he doesn’t, then political analysts are going to start going into overdrive imagining what other political scenarios are even possible for 2019.