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Indonesia election 2024: who are the 3 candidates vying to lead the world’s third largest democracy?

Although surveys show Prabowo Subianto has a virtually insurmountable lead in the polls, his two rivals have a realistic chance of keeping him below 50 per cent, which would result in a run-off election between the first and second place finishers on June 26. This means the question of who may become Indonesia’s eighth president is still very much an open one.

Here’s an in-depth look at all three candidates and their political journeys up to their climactic showdown at the polls.

If Prabowo wins the presidency on Wednesday, it will be the culmination of a military and political career spent fighting to influence the future of his country. After graduating from the Indonesian Military Academy in 1970, Prabowo served in the Special Forces (Kopassus) before being tapped to lead the Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) in 1998.

That same year also saw the economic and political crisis that led Prabowo’s father-in-law at the time, President Suharto, to resign after 32 years of dictatorship. Around the time of the riots that precipitated Suharto’s ouster, troops under Prabowo’s command kidnapped and tortured at least nine democracy activists. Prabowo acknowledged responsibility for the kidnappings and was dishonourably discharged from the military.

He was also banned from the United States for decades due to alleged human rights abuses, including military crimes during the occupation of East Timor, but the ban was lifted in 2020 after Widodo named him defence minister.

After the end of his military career, Prabowo focused on politics, forming the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party in 2008. In 2009, he ran as the vice-presidential candidate to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri,