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Indonesia's Golkar steals election limelight with Subianto backing

Golkar -- Indonesia's second largest party -- has backed presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, who has picked former chief economic minister Hatta Rajasa as his running mate, in Indonesia's presidential race.

JAKARTA: Candidates for Indonesia's presidential race have been firmed up.

Popular Jakarta governor Joko Widodo has teamed up with senior Golkar politician and former vice president Jusuf Kalla.

But it was Golkar -- Indonesia's second largest party -- that stole the limelight.

It signalled its backing for the other presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, who has picked former chief economic minister Hatta Rajasa as his running mate.

Presidential candidate Joko Widodo is widely seen as the frontrunner in Indonesia's presidential race.

Analysts think his pick of popular former vice president Jusuf Kalla as running mate will secure the pair a comfortable lead.

"We are confident, God willing, that both of us will bring about change in our beloved country," said Widodo, also known by his nickname of “Jokowi.”

It seems many want that change -- recent opinion polls put the Widodo-Kalla ticket way above their main rivals Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa.

The stock market also appears to like the pair -- Jakarta stocks rose more than one per cent on reports that Kalla had been selected as Widodo's running mate.

The 72-year-old is seen as an experienced politician as he served as vice president for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his first term and had an important role in striking a peace accord between the Indonesian government and Aceh rebels.

Kalla is also the current head of the Indonesian Mosque Association and is seen as having the ability to bridge the nationalist PDI-P with the Muslim community.

The biggest surprise of the day though belonged to Gerindra's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

However, it was not his choice of running mate -- PAN's Hatta Rajasa -- that caused the stir.

Golkar, the party with the second largest number of votes in the recent legislative elections, suddenly announced it was giving Gerindra its official support.

The Crescent Star Party (PBB) quickly followed suit.

This means the Gerindra coalition now has the backing of five political parties -- bringing its collective popular vote from the legislative elections to 48 per cent.

"Golkar may have come at the end, but they are the kingmakers. Golkar is the determining factor of Indonesia's future," said Subianto.

The election on July 9 will show if indeed Golkar is the kingmaker. For now though, the sheer number of political parties backing the Gerindra coalition means Prabowo Subianto is giving Joko Widodo a run for his money. 

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