After weeks of private meetings and public handshakes, Indonesia's major political parties have finally picked sides for the presidential election scheduled for 9 July. The election is set to be a face-off between Prabowo Subianto (pictured), a former special forces commander and once son-in-law of President Suharto, and Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, a former furniture salesman from Central Java who is now Governor of Jakarta.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) set a deadline of Tuesday this week for parties to register their presidential and vice presidential pairings. Prabowo chose his partner last week, naming newly resigned Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa as his potential vice president. The announcement sent vice presidential hopeful Aburizal Bakrie over to Jokowi's party looking to lend the Golkar party's influence there. On Monday, Jokowi arrived at the KPU office by bicycle with his chosen candidate for vice president, former Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla. However, in a last-minute twist, Bakrie pulled his party's support for Jokowi, returning to Prabowo and Hatta, and leaving Kalla behind.

The move has caused a rift within Golkar, with some members breaking ranks to support Jokowi and Kalla instead. Bakrie reportedly withdrew his support for Jokowi and his party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), after a meeting on Sunday night with party chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, who refused to guarantee cabinet seats for Golkar members under a Jokowi presidency.

From the start, Jokowi has aimed for a 'slim' coalition that will allow him to pursue policies for change without having to compromise with too many coalition partners. The experience of incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his 'rainbow' coalitions has shown the dangers of trying to accommodate too many voices in passing legislation. Meanwhile, Prabowo has aimed for a 'fat' coalition, believing that he can muster consensus from his supporting parties.

The current configuration of coalitions has Jokowi and the PDI-P supported by the National Democrat (NasDem) party, the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and one Islamic party, the National Awakening Party (PKB). Prabowo and his Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party are supported by Golkar and four Islamic parties: the National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), United Development Party (PPP) and the Crescent-Star Party (PBB).

The obvious name missing from this list is President Yudhoyono's Democratic Party (PD). The party received only 10.19% of the vote in the legislative elections, below PDI-P (18.95%), Golkar (14.75%) and Gerindra (11.81%). After supporting Yudhoyono's presidency for the past ten years, PD has decided to take a neutral position, backing neither Prabowo nor Jokowi.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.