Everything you need to know about Indonesia's 2024 presidential election

Indonesia decides.

Sulaiman Daud | February 11, 2024, 06:58 PM



The people of Southeast Asia's largest democracy will go to the polls on Feb. 14, 2024.

There will be a public holiday, but not for Valentine's Day.

Instead, over 200 million registered voters will have the opportunity to cast a vote for who they believe should replace Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as the President of Indonesia.

The winner will receive a mandate to determine the future of one of Asean's most prominent countries for the next five years. In case you're not caught up, here's a quick primer of everything Mothership has covered on this most important of elections.

The incumbent

We begin with a popular incumbent set to leave office because of term limits.

Jokowi, who won back-to-back elections in 2014 and 2019, enjoys high personal popularity among the Indonesian public.

His signature policies include infrastructure investment and prioritising domestic processing of natural resources, instead of just exporting them in their raw form, called "downstreaming."

The challengers

Prabowo and Gibran

Prabowo Subianto emerged as an early contender.

The 72-year-old happened to be Jokowi's challenger both in 2014 and 2019, failing both times.

After his election loss in 2019, there were violent protests that unfortunately led to at least six deaths.

However, Prabowo was invited by Jokowi to serve in his government as defence minister.

For his vice presidential candidate, Prabowo tapped Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the 36-year-old elected Mayor of Surakarta.

Gibran also happens to be Jokowi's son.

However, Gibran's candidacy faced obstacles.

Under Indonesian law then, a candidate needed to be a minimum of 40 years of age to run for president or vice president.

Fortunately for Gibran, a court ruled that a candidate under 40 could qualify as long as they previously held elected regional office.

This paved the way for Gibran to be selected as Prabowo's running mate. Jokowi said that as a father, he could not stop his adult son from pursuing his own political career.

Prabowo and Gibran were the last pair to officially register their candidacy.

Meanwhile, the chief justice of the court that made the ruling which benefited Gibran was found guilty of a "serious ethical violation", and demoted.

The chief justice, Anwar Usman, happens to be Jokowi's brother-in-law, and therefore related to Gibran.

Ganjar and Mahfud

The candidate from Jokowi's own party PDI-P is Ganjar Pranowo, the former Governor of Central Java.

He announced that Mahfud MD, then-Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs would be his running mate.

Anies and Muhaimin

The other candidate is Anies Baswedan, the former Governor of Jakarta and an independent backed by a number of other parties.

For his running mate, Anies selected Muhaimin Iskandar, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB).

The former education minister emphasised that he wanted to ensure “equal opportunity” for jobs, healthcare and a better life through education as part of his election pitch.

A court dismissed a legal challenge brought against Prabowo to disqualify him for running on account of his age.

The stage was set for the three candidate pairs to contest the 2024 election.

Campaign season

Campaigning kicked off in November 2023, with memes and AI-generated images demonstrating their early influence in spreading messages among voters.

The candidates also faced controversy.

Gibran, who studied in Singapore, had his education credentials called into question.

An online commenter asked how Gibran could obtain a degree from a UK institution while studying in Singapore, apparently unaware of the existence of MDIS.

This prompted Gibran to display his degree as proof.

Prabowo also found time to visit fellow minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who was recovering in a Singapore hospital.

Jokowi's influence was also felt, as he called for his successor not to roll back his economic policies, particularly his signature "downstreaming" industrial policy, the foundation of his plan to transform Indonesia into an economic powerhouse by 2045.

At least one academic, speaking at ISEAS Yusof Ishak's Regional Outlook Forum, believes that all three candidates would continue Jokowi's policies in infrastructure, social protection and commodities.


In the first presidential debate, the candidates took jabs at each other's supposed vulnerable spots.

Ganjar asked if Prabowo would form an ad-hoc human rights court to resolve past cases of serious human rights violations.

Prabowo has been accused of human rights abuses during his time in the Indonesian military.

Prabowo shot back that Ganjar should not politicise human rights.

Anies also came under fire for the latter's handling of air pollution during his time as Jakarta's governor.

Prabowo asked why, during the five years when Anies was governor, did the Indonesian capital often had the highest pollution index in the world.

Anies replied there were various steps he implemented to control air pollution and that high pollution in Jakarta does not happen every day.

Ganjar was also criticised by Prabowo for his management of fertiliser for farmers in Central Java.

The vice presidential debates were also similarly prickly, with Gibran and Mahfud tangled in an exchange over the meaning of "greenflation".

Gibran's supposed irreverent gesture drew some criticism from observers, while others found it amusing.


On the campaign trail, Gibran and Mahfud found themselves in hot water over remarks made about women.

Gibran mixed up folic acid with sulfuric acid while discussing pregnancy, while Mahfud said many men became corrupt "because of their wives".

Gibran was summoned by the election watchdog organisation over an alleged campaign breach, as he handed out free milk during a "car-free day", where political activities are prohibited.

Mahfud's Instagram became the target of hackers, sharing a video of Israeli soldiers, demonstrating the salience of the ongoing Gaza crisis in the minds of Indonesian voters.

Prabowo in the lead

Despite the various controversies, the Prabowo-Gibran pairing remained firmly in the lead.

This prompted his two rivals to publicly mull forming a coalition if the election proceeds to a runoff.

For Prabowo to win outright and avoid a runoff election, he needs to win more than 50 per cent of the total vote, including enough votes from a certain number of Indonesian provinces.

Questions over conflict of interest

Jokowi then became the focus of headlines after he said that a president could "pick a side" in an election.

He said this during a military event where Prabowo was present in his capacity as the defence minister.

Jokowi quickly clarified afterwards that he was merely explaining the law, as Indonesian law states a president can take part in campaigns, as long as state facilities are not used.

Meanwhile, Mahfud resigned from his cabinet role to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

The political neutrality of one of Indonesia's largest religious organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama, was also called into question after a prominent cleric alleged that its members were encouraged to support Prabowo.

Even more controversy

The final days of the campaign season saw even more controversy related to the three candidates.

The head of the elections commission was given a "final stern warning" over ethics violations related to Gibran's candidacy, with the other commissioners also receiving stern warnings.

Meanwhile, a comedian who made a religion-related joke at an Anies rally will be tried in court for alleged blasphemy.

Controversial ex-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, announced he would resign from his role at an Indonesian state-owned company in order to openly campaign for Ganjar.

Feb. 10, 2024 was the last official day of campaigning.

Hundreds of millions of Indonesians will make their choice on Feb. 14, and the eyes of the world will be watching.

Get up to speed with the 2024 Indonesia Election

@mothershipsg A guide to Indonesia's presidential candidates: Anies Baswedan. The former governor of Jakarta will stand in the general elections on Feb. 14, 2024 as an independent candidate backed by Coalition of Change for Unity (KPP). #tiktoksg #indonesia #sgnews ♬ original sound - Mothership

@mothershipsg A guide to Indonesia's presidential candidates: Prabowo Subianto. The former general will stand in the general elections on Feb. 14, 2024 as the candidate for the Gerindra party. #tiktokindonesia #worldnews #tiktoksg #sgnews ♬ original sound - Mothership

@mothershipsg A guide to Indonesia's presidential candidates: Ganjar Pranowo. The former governor of Central Java will stand in the general elections on Feb. 14, 2024 as the candidate for the PDI-P party. #indonesia #tiktoksg #sgnews #LearnOnTikTok ♬ original sound - Mothership

Top image from Anies Baswedan, Prabowo Subianto and Ganjar Pranowo's Facebook pages.