Q&A: Indonesia’s Prabowo Subianto ‘confident’ about election victory | Elections

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

Incumbent Joko Widodo is in his second and final term, and is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Voters have a choice between three presidential candidates – Anies Baswedan, former Governor of Jakarta, Ganjar Pranowo, former Governor of Central Java, and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.

Several opinion polls indicate that Prabowo has a comfortable lead over his rivals.

Prabowo has tried twice to become president of Indonesia – and lost both times to Widodo.

Since 2019, he has been the defense minister in Widodo’s cabinet.

His running mate is 36-year-old Gibran Raka Bumingraka, the president’s eldest son.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka are the favorites in Wednesday’s elections[File:YasuyoshiChiba/AFP)[File:YasuyoshiChiba/AFP)[File:YasuyoshiChiba/AFP)[File:YasuyoshiChiba/AFP)

But victory is not yet certain. If no candidate can get at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round of voting will be held in June.

Although Prabowo is the most popular candidate, he is also polarizing. Decades-old allegations of human rights abuses while in the military have been raised by rivals and rights groups.

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

Back on stage, the 72-year-old met with Al Jazeera Asia reporter Jessica Washington for an exclusive interview, sharing his thoughts on why young voters have been drawn to his campaign and how expected to win over critics.

Al Jazeera: This is the last day of campaign. Do you feel confident that you can win this election in one round?

Prabowo Subianto: All the numbers show that… the enthusiasm among the people. All the figures show that we will go in one round.

Al Jazeera: The commitment of young people has been a key part of the campaign. What is your message to your young supporters?

Prabowo Subianto: The youth today, they are more rational, they are more critical, they are smarter, they notice what is true and what is not true.

I think they are very worried about their future, so those who have a good program and a good strategy, those who have good promises, they are the ones that the youth can recognize with them to support.

Al Jazeera: Is there something special about your campaign that appeals to young people? Because your opponents might say it’s because of the Tiktok dances, the cartoon posters. Is there a particular policy that appeals to young people?

Prabowo Subianto: My policies are very reasonable, logical, with a sensible approach that really builds on the work of our forefathers.

Nation building is not a two year thing, it is a five year thing. It is a time of one or two generations.

We must make use of and build upon all that has been built by those who came before. That’s why people of all strata most of them get my message and support us. They understand to build something, you have to do it based on a solid foundation and then build on success. Brick by brick, stone by stone.

Al Jazeera: You obviously have a lot of supporters but you also have some strong critics. If you win this election, you will also be their president. How do you manage this?

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

I proved this, during the last election, I lost badly in the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) region. But when I became the Defense Minister, I built one of the biggest and best polytechnics there. In the province where I lost.

Do you understand? I do not believe in short-term thinking, thinking small. I like to think big and long-term.

Al Jazeera: Thinking about the big picture, how do you see Indonesia’s place on the world stage, if you become president?

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

Indonesia respects every country, respects every great power.

We want to have good relations with everyone. We don’t want to be with one block against another. Our situation is very special. We are friends with everyone. In any conflict or competition, we are the ones that both sides can accept.

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. They are young, dynamic, curious, and they are vital.

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

Al Jazeera: What will Indonesia be like under your leadership?

Prabowo Subianto: I hope Indonesia will be dynamic, better economically. But most importantly, I want to reduce poverty. I want to get rid of hunger. I want to get rid of stunting for Indonesian children. The figures are not so good, that at least 25 percent of the children are abused, in the outer areas. But even in West Java, there are children who do not eat well.

Al Jazeera: One thing they say is that they will support you in polls, and to appear at campaign events. It’s a different matter when it comes to showing up on February 14 and voting. Are you concerned about the reliability of your sponsors?

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

I would say to them, use your power, once every five years you have the power in your hands to choose leaders who will fight for you. If you vote for me, I will protect you and fight for you.

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