#2019ChangePresident heats up Jokowi-Prabowo race

MEDAN (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresident) has appeared in memes circulating on various social media like Instagram and Facebook recently.

A flower board that drew the attention of wedding guests at a reception on Wednesday in Binjai, North Sumatra, with its unusual message “Gina & Heru Ganti Status / #2019GantiPresiden”, or “Gina & Heru Change Their Status / #2019ChangePresident”, has gone viral on social media.

Several guests took pictures with the board in the background, including Ahmadi from Medan. Ahmadi said the flower board’s political hashtag prompted him to take a selfie with it and upload the picture to his social media account.

“I’ve gotten positive responses,” said Ahmadi, who added that he did not know who had sent the board.

#2019GantiPresiden has appeared in memes circulating on various social media like Instagram and Facebook. Several T-shirt printing businesses are now offering T-shirts printed with the hashtag. One online shop is selling #2019GantiPresiden T-shirts for Rp 95,000 (US$6.90) each, and is also offering mugs and cell phone cases bearing the political hashtag.

On Apr. 3, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Mardani Ali Sera was spotted on a TV show wearing a rubber bracelet with the hashtag on it. "The #2019 GantiPresiden movement will provide data, analysis, to put forth a better candidate for the 2019 presidential election,” he said on Apr. 4 as quoted by tempo.co.

The hashtag has revved up the upcoming race between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his archrival Prabowo Subianto, the Gerindra Party’s general chairman and patron who declared his presidential candidacy on Wednesday evening – albeit on the condition of support from “friendly parties”.

The PKS has traditionally been a close Gerindra ally, but it had yet to make an official decision on endorsing Prabowo by noon on Thursday, although its politicians have expressed their support for Prabowo in the media.

President Jokowi delivered a fiery response over the weekend on the campaign to unseat him in 2019, saying, “T-shirts cannot replace a president.”

Crescent Star Party (PBB) politician Yusril Ihza Mahendra responded in kind, quipping, “I would say checkered shirts do not make a president, either.” Yusril was referring to the checkered shirts Jokowi supporters wore during the incumbent’s 2014 presidential campaign.

For the 2019 presidential race, Jokowi supporters have their own hashtag: #Jokowi2Periode (second term for Jokowi).

Senior politician Akbar Tandjung of the Golkar Party, a member of the government coalition, commented that the #2019GantiPresident campaign was part of democracy. He pointed out, however, that a mere hashtag would not succeed in replacing Jokowi “who still has huge support”. “They need to put forth a figure who has high electability,” he said in Malang, East Java, as kompas.com reported on Wednesday.

In February 2018, pollster Populi Center reported the results their electability survey, which showed 52.8 percent of respondents favoring Jokowi and 15.4 percent for Prabowo.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has set Aug. 4-10 as the registration period for presidential candidates. Besides Jokowi and Prabowo, other possible candidates touted for the presidency include former Indonesian Military commander Gen. (ret) Gatot Nurmantyo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

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