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Jokowi vs Prabowo: Indonesian presidential debate robotic, risk-averse

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Jakarta: It was billed as the great debate on law, corruption, terrorism and human rights.

The first presidential debate of the Indonesian political season was a chance for Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his challenger, Prabowo Subianto, to square up in prime time ahead of the April 17 poll, with their respective vice-presidential running mates by their side.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin during the televised debate in Jakarta on Thursday night.Credit:AP

The President and the challenger. A re-run of the hard-fought 2014 election, when the two men faced each other for the first time and Widodo came out on top.

But while in 2019 the candidates are the same, this poll is no re-run of the previous election.

Widodo – a relative political clean skin five years ago who cut his teeth as governor of Jakarta and mayor of the mid-sized city of Solo – now has both the benefit and the burden of five years' incumbency.

A banner in Jakarta for Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.Credit:AP

He has made progress as president, investing heavily in infrastructure, health and education, but in a country where corruption is near-endemic and poverty – despite a growing middle class – is still rife, it has not been progress enough.

Prabowo, the failed candidate from 2014 who also lost out when........

© The Age