While politicians in the United States continue to focus on the partial government shutdown, in some parts of the world attention is shifting to upcoming elections. That includes Southeast Asia . . . where one presidential contest appears headed for a rematch.
When Indonesian voters go to the polls in mid-April, they’ll choose between two familiar presidential candidates. Incumbent Joko Widodo, also known as “Jokowi” is facing off against the person he beat for the office five years ago — retired Army General Prabowo Subianto.
On Thursday, the campaign kicked off with its opening debate — broadcast live on 18 television and radio stations.
Prabowo accused Jokowi of discriminating against the poor when it comes to law enforcement — the incumbent called the charges “baseless accusations.”
Other themes included allegations of corruption within the government, and the state of the economy — which has averaged about five-percent growth during Jokowi’s administration. That’s impressive by international standards, but short of the 7 percent growth he promised in his last campaign.
This year’s election will also feature candidates for Indonesia’s House of Representatives — the first time those elections will be held at the same time.
At this point, Jokowi holds a wide lead — from 12 to 24 percentage points in the latest polls.
But in the last campaign, Jokowi went from having a substantial lead in the pre-election polls to winning by a much narrower margin.
And this year, four more debates are still on the way.