Indonesian Elections: Prabowo Era

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With its population of 270 million people, Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the world. On February 14, 2024, the last Presidential Election was recorded as the largest single-day election in history. According to unofficial results from independent organizations, Prabowo Subianto won with almost 60% of the vote. In a major achievement, Prabowo claimed victory in 36 out of 38 provinces. Addressing a crowd of supporters at election night celebrations at a stadium in Jakarta, Prabowo made a democratic appeal, saying, “While we are grateful, we cannot be arrogant. We must be humble,” he said in a democratic appeal.[1]

This decisive victory was not a big surprise for Indonesia. For most of the campaign season, polls had predicted a runoff between Prabowo and either independent former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan or former Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).[2] However, the latest forecasts in early February indicated that Prabowo would win an outright victory with a majority without a runoff.

This victory marks the opening of a new chapter for Indonesia’s young democracy. Prabowo rose to prominence as a military commander during the rule of his then father-in-law, former President Suharto. Under Suharto’s rule, Prabowo was not favored by opposition activists. After President Suharto’s rule, Prabowo turned to business, generating a significant volume of investment, before re-entering politics. In 2008, he founded the nationalist and right-wing Gerindra Party, of which he is now the leader. He also ran for the presidency in 2014 and 2019, but lost both times to current President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo, before joining Jokowi’s cabinet as Minister of Defense.[3]

At the age of 72, this new achievement has many political backgrounds. First of all, vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka has given Prabowo significant support in this election. Raka is the eldest son of former President Jokowi and did not run for the presidency, but as a vice presidential candidate.[4] For this reason, Prabowo, in collaboration with the former president’s son, also showed his political influence in the election. Raka thanked Prabowo on election day for “providing an opportunity for the youth”.[5]

The 2024 presidential race was seen as a referendum on the legacy of Jokowi, who officially endorsed no candidate, and Prabowo emerged victorious. Prabowo’s victory marks a significant shift in Indonesia’s political landscape and democratic structure. The implications of this victory for political stability and democratic processes in the country are being closely monitored.

Prabowo’s presidency could have important consequences for Indonesia’s political and social future. Prabowo comes from a long-established political family. Prabowo’s background was particularly prominent during the Suharto administration. His father Sumitro Djojohadikusumo was a former Minister of Finance and Trade, while his grandfather Margono headed the presidential advisory council.

Since the Suharto era, he has seen himself as a supporter of Indonesia’s vibrant democracy, and more recently he has built his image as a credible and experienced political figure, becoming a major player in politics over the last decade.

Prabowo’s presidency is likely to have significant implications for Indonesia’s political and social atmosphere. The administration under his leadership may affect the democratic structure of the country and may be perceived as a continuation of Jokowi-era policies. This will be a critical turning point in the country. This election opens the door to a significant change in Indonesia’s political landscape. The victory of Prabowo, an important figure during the Suharto administration, removes the question marks on how the democratization process will proceed in the country.

Prabowo received congratulatory messages from many governments after the election. United States (US) State Department Spokesperson Miller congratulated the Indonesian people for their “strong participation” in the elections, calling it “a demonstration of the strength and commitment of the Indonesian people to the democratic process and institutions”.[6] In addition, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Prabowo on his victory and Jokowi on the “smooth and successful conduct” of the elections.[7]

Indonesia’s young population played an important role in the elections. It is reported that more than half of registered voters are under the age of 40. This shows the importance of youth political participation and its influence in future elections. Prabowo’s victory could have a significant impact on youth political participation and Indonesia’s future democratic direction.

In conclusion, Prabowo Subianto’s victory may have a significant impact on Indonesia’s political and social future. It remains to be seen how this victory, which is of great importance for the country’s democratic structure, human rights and international relations, will play out in the coming days.

[1] “Ex-Army Strongman Leader Claims Victory İn Indonesian Presidential Election”, CNN,, (Date of Access: 16.02.2024).

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] “What to Know About Prabowo Subianto as Uncertainty Looms for Indonesia’s Democracy”, Time,, (Date of Access: 16.02.2024).

[5] “Prabowo Subianto claims victory in Indonesia’s election, as counting continues in world’s largest single-day vote. Australian Broadcasting Corporation”, ABC,, (Date of Access: 16.02.2024).

[6] “Election in Indonesia”, U.S DEPARTMENT OF STATE,, (Date of Access: 16.02.2024).

[7] “PM Lee Congratulates Prabowo After Strong Performance in Indonesia Presidential Election”,, (Date of Access: 16.02.2024).

Ayşe Azra Gılavcı
Ayşe Azra Gılavcı
Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü