Jokow Widodo versus Prabowo Subianto - Photo: Privacy

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Good moring. Thursday was quite an eventful day and President Joko Widodo shows once again why he is a formidable politician by picking the influential cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his pair in the next 2019 Presidential Election.

Any presidential hopefuls must register to the Election Commission today. Initially, Widodo appeared to have picked former Constitutional Court chief judge Mahfud MD as his number two. Mahfud is seen as a moderate and coming from Nahdlatul Ulama or NU, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization.

However, concerns were raised on Mahfud’s NU credentials as he never officially joined the organization. Then, Widodo pivoted and picked Amin.

It is a shrewd move. Amin will certainly boost Widodo’s popularity among Islam voters. In addition, naming an influential cleric also ensures that the opposition camp will have little impact in attacking Jokowi’s Islamic credential, a strategy from the 2014 Presidential Election.

There are, however, concerns on the cleric’s credential on economic issues, which would become more important if Widodo wins his second term. Furthermore, Amin is sometimes seen standing too close with the Islamic hardliner, which could scare foreign investors.

Meanwhile, the opposition had officially nominated Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno as their candidates in the election, which may cost them the support from the recently-joined Demokrat Party.

The opposition’s uphill battle to face Widodo’s popularity is set to become more difficult if the Demokrat actually breaks ranks. The Demokrat wanted his cadre Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of party founder former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to run as Subianto’s running-mate in 2019.

Instead, Subianto has picked billionaire Uno, a cadre from his own Gerindra, as his running mate, with allegation that some hush-hush money was involved.

Breaking away from the opposition, however, will put the democratic party in a difficult position as the law forbids staying neutral in the election. As all parties had declared their allegiances in the election, thus little chance to form a third alliance, then the Demokrat has no option but to join the ruling coalition if it breaks ranks from the opposition.

Market may react to the political development today. On Thursday (09/08), the Jakarta Composite Index ended down 0.49 per cent at 6056.26 while the Rupiah strengthened to 14,422 per US dollar versus 14,439 per US dollar on Thursday.

Market participants are waiting for the release of Balance of Payment and Current Account data for the second quarter by Bank Indonesia. Latest estimate by the central bank sees Indonesia to record current account deficit of 2.5-3.0 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter, widening from 2.15 per cent in the first quarter.

Moving to overseas, China’s recently released trade data shows little impact on the escalating tit-for-tat tariff policy between the world’s second-largest economy and the United States (U.S). China’s exports 12.2 per cent year-on-year in July and its trade surplus with the U.S fell only a little to US$28.09 billion from $28.97 billion in June.

TIS Intelligence Team, Email: