Jokowi, Prabowo to battle for Indonesia’s 187.1mil voters
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Jokowi, Prabowo to battle for Indonesia’s 187.1mil voters

INDONESIA’S presidential race is expected to kick off this Sunday with both President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and former general Prabowo Subianto fighting for the ballots of 187.1 million eligible voters ahead of polling day next April.

The country’s General Elections Commission (KPU) removed more than 670,000 names from its electoral roll after receiving complaints on duplicate names in its registry, according to the Straits Times.

This came following the Elections Supervisory Agency’s discovery of 2.9 million duplicate names in the voter list, which prompted a clean-up of the list of voters before polling takes place on April 17.

The two will begin their seven-month long campaigns this weekend to shore up votes in an unprecedented election for the republic which for the first time has nearly hald of the total voters aged 35-years-old or younger.

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Idil Akbar, a political analyst at Padjadjaran University said he believed both candidates will be treating the millenial vote as a priority, particularly in the country’s most populous central region of Java.

“It is incredible, (millennials) make up around 31 per cent of voters in Java, and if we talk about West Java, it is about 35 per cent,” he said.

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo (2nd L) and his vice-presidential running mate for the 2019 presidential election Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin (2nd R) applaud along with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leader and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri (R) and other coalition party members while greeting supporters in Jakarta, Indonesia Aug 10, 2018. Source: Reuters

The upcoming election will also be the first time that voter will be choosing the president and members of parliament on the same day.

Since 1998, Indonesia has practised an electoral system that prevents a single party from holding power following the downfall of dictator Suharto in 1998.

Jokowi and his Islamic cleric running mate Ma’ruf Amin is backed by the nine-party Golkar coalition led by the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), while Prabowo and Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno is contesting under The Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

Ma’ruf’s selection comes at a time when the Muslim-majority country is experiencing the decline of its pluralistic brand of Islam and the rise of religious fundamentalism promulgated by influential far-right groups.

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Former general and head of the Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto waves as he arrives to register himself and his running mate former Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno as candidates for the 2019 presidential election outside the General Election Commission in Jakarta, Indonesia August 10, 2018. Source: Reuters

Prabowo and Sandiaga are both influential nationalists with deep ties to the business and military elite, as well as popular ultraconservative religious groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF).

With over 100 million smartphone users in the country, social media is expected to be a key battleground for Jokowi and Prabowo who are wooing an estimated 70 million first-time voters. Much of the campaigning will also focus on the state of the economy and bread and butter issues.

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Jokowi’s presence on social media far outweighs Prabowo, dominating on Twitter with 10.2 million followers while Subianto has only a third of the figure at 3.17 million followers.

On Instagram, Jokowi’s 10.8 million followers outnumber Prabowo eight-to-one, but the incumbent president is behind Prabowo on Facebook with one million fewer followers.

With more than half a million followers on YouTube, Jokowi regularly updates his channel with vlogs but Subianto does not appear to have a dedicated channel.