Prabowo’s Identity Politics

Prabowo in Manado - New Naratif

A man from Minahasa competing in the 2019 presidential election is an echo of the past. It’s a direct repeat of the 2014 presidential election, when presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s use of identity politics seemed as if it would gain traction in his ancestral land of North Sulawesi. In reality, his defence of radical Muslim groups ended up causing problems in an area with a majority Christian population.

As Indonesia heads to the polls on 17 April, the question of whether Prabowo can pull off a win in North Sulawesi and win his place in the presidential palace is one worth paying attention to.

The 2019 presidential election isn’t the first time former general Prabowo Subianto, who founded the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), will contest a presidential election. He was Megawati Soekarnoputri’s running mate in 2009, and in 2014 ran as a presidential candidate with Hatta Rajasa as his vice-presidential pick. He’s now hoping he’ll be third time lucky with the help of his wealthy running mate Sandiaga Uno, and identity politics is a talking point that he’s returned to once again.

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