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Zubaidah Nazeer
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

Asia

High confidence in Prabowo camp

The Straits Times | Zubaidah Nazeer | Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto greets supporters while campaigning in Makassar, South Sulawesi province June 17, 2014.

At Mr Prabowo Subianto's campaign headquarters in East Jakarta, an endless stream of people turn up to declare their support, fuelling growing optimism in the presidential candidate's team that he will overtake front runner Joko Widodo by the July 9 election.

Supporters from all over Indonesia take turns on stage under a tent set up in the garden of the historical house to perform dances, offer prayers or simply read out their reasons for backing the former general and his running mate, Mr Hatta Rajasa.

"Rumah Polonia was to be shut by Saturday but we extended till June 25 because we are seeing so many pledges. I am not sure how we will cope beyond that," Ms Diana Widiastuti, 42, who coordinates the declarations of support, said. The house will remain open as the headquarters but pledges will stop by the fasting month.

Every day, Ms Diana records more than 400 pledges from individuals and groups, making Rumah Polonia a key morale-booster for the team. Even as the Prabowo-Hatta team sees a surge in support from opinion polls and on the ground, it is going all out to secure the country's top job.

Latest surveys show the Prabowo-Hatta team fast closing in on its rivals as Mr Prabowo's Gerindra Party and its coalition partners tap grassroots networks in guerilla-like operations.

A campaign team adviser, Mr Eggy Sudjana, said: "For each polling district, three cadres of coalition partner Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) are tasked to canvass for votes during campaigning."

PKS has mobilised 20,000 cadres for a "knock on one million doors" initiative in Yogyakarta to rally support. Local leaders are pitching in. At least 11 governors and seven vice-governors have submitted their leave to campaign for Mr Prabowo, says the Election Commission.

Mr Prabowo and Mr Hatta are campaigning at a whirlwind pace, appearing in as many as three provinces in a single day. While campaigning is most intense in Java which has the largest vote bank, Mr Prabowo has scheduled stops in eastern Indonesia, including Papua, said Dr Mahfud MD, the national campaign chief.

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