Biggest Indonesian party backs President Widodo for new term

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s biggest political party in parliament on Friday endorsed President Joko Widodo as its candidate for elections in 2019, joining four other parties backing him for a second term.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo delivers a speech at Foreign Ministry office in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 12, 2018. Antara Foto/Wahyu Putro/ via REUTERS

The presidential election is widely expected to be a re-run of a 2014 vote with Widodo taking on retired general Prabowo Subianto of the opposition Gerindra (Greater Indonesia Movement) party.

“I hearby state that the PDIP presidential candidate is Joko Widodo,” Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairwoman of the nationalist Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) party, said in a video from the party’s congress on the island of Bali.

Photographs on the Twitter feed of cabinet secretary and PDIP member Pramono Anung showed a smiling Widodo and Sukarnoputri holding up their arms together surrounded by party members.

A presidential candidate needs the support of parties together got 25 percent of the national vote in the previous election or have 20 percent of seats in parliament.

Four other political parties have already officially declared support for Widodo including the second-biggest party, Golkar.

Widodo, a former furniture salesman, is Indonesia’s first president to come from outside the political and military elite.

The former governor of the capital, Jakarta, beat tycoons and former generals in 2014, riding a wave of support for his energetic style and tough record on corruption.

While in office, Widodo has led a push to build infrastructure though annual growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, at around 5 percent, has yet to reach the 7 percent he pledged when campaigning in 2014.

Widodo remains the most popular candidate in most opinion polls.

Pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting said in a December survey 53 percent of respondents would support Widodo, while his nearest rival, Subianto, got 18.5 percent.

Subianto has been reported as saying he is willing to run for president in 2019, though he has not confirmed this. Candidates have until mid August to register.

Asked about a vice president for his ticket, Widodo told reporters he would need to consult other parties.

“We will talk to all parties, then we will tell you,” he said.

Reporting by Jessica Damiana and Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel