Joko Widodo picks former vice-president Jusuf Kalla as presidential running mate
Favourite opts for former vice-president as running mate in July election
Indonesian presidential favourite Joko Widodo chose former vice-president Jusuf Kalla as his running mate yesterday, making them a formidable ticket in July's elections.
Opinion polls point to a Widodo-Kalla partnership coming out comfortably on top in elections scheduled for July 9. The pair are supported by a coalition of political parties, raising the prospect of stable and efficient government that might be able to push through economic reforms and tackle corruption.
"We have confidence, God willing, we will be able to bring change to our beloved country," said Widodo, known across the country as "Jokowi", as he stood next to Kalla while making the announcement at a historic building in downtown Jakarta.
Kalla, 72, was vice-president under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his first term of 1999-2004, when he gained a reputation as a leader who can cut through bureaucracy and get things done. A native of Sulawesi province and a successful businessmen, Kalla is currently chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross.
He is a former chairman of Golkar, the country's second-largest political party, and up until yesterday was thought to still have significant influence in the group.
However, in a twist, a senior Golkar official said the party would instead support former general Prabowo Subianto in the July election. Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie also said last week he would co-operate with Widodo's coalition.
Prabowo is a nationalist linked to human rights abuses going back to the turmoil that led to the deposal of dictator Suharto in 1998. He has indicated he will choose former economic minister Hatta Rajasa as running mate.
"At [Golkar's national meeting], Aburizal Bakrie gave a statement that the whole Golkar family and party will give its full support to [Prabowo as president and Hatta as vice-president)," said Golkar's secretary general, Idrus Marham, at a political rally.
Widodo, 52, was elected Jakarta governor in 2012 but cut short his term to run for the presidency.
A former furniture salesman, Widodo is very popular among ordinary Indonesians. Most politicians have tended to be cut from the same cloth, either former army generals or tycoons.
"Jokowi-JK is the right combination," said Djayadi Hanan, a political analyst from the University of Paramadina in Jakarta, referring to Widodo by his nickname and Kalla by his initials.
"JK can complement Jokowi's weaknesses in terms of economic and international policies, and government experience."
Additional reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg