Indonesia's Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan announced on Friday (31/01) that he resigned - with immediate effect - from the cabinet in order to focus on his ambition to become the next president of Indonesia in the 2014 presidential election, scheduled for 9 July. Wirjawan aims to be selected as presidential candidate in the Democratic Party’s presidential convention. The Democratic Party (PD), the political vehicle of current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was the largest party at the 2009 elections but has since lost popularity.
According to the Indonesian media, President Yudhoyono has already approved the resignation of Wirjawan. Yudhoyono himself can not participate in the 2014 elections as the constitution stipulates a two-term limit to the presidency.
Wirjawan, businessman (founder of Ancora Capital) and former banker at Goldman Sachs, was chairman of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) for nearly two years before being appointed as Trade Minister in late 2011 after a cabinet reshuffle, thereby replacing Mari Elka Pangestu.
Wirjawan received his education in the University of Texas (Bachelor degree in Accounting), Baylor University (Master of Business Administration), and the Harvard University's JFK School of Government (Master of Public Administration).
Other participants in the Democratic Party’s presidential convention are Marzuki Alie (House of Representative speaker), Dahlan Iskan (Minister of State-Owned Enterprises), Anies Baswedan (rector of the Paramadina University), Endriartono Sutarto (former Indonesian Military commander), and Dino Patti Djalal (Indonesia's Ambassador to the United States).
However, based on recent polls, two people are regarded as most popular candidates to replace Yudhoyono this summer. They are Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, who enjoys high popularity due to his down-to-earth political approach, and former army officer Prabowo Subianto, who, despite accusations of human rights violations, enjoys popularity because he is regarded as a strong leader (many Indonesians feel that incumbent President Yudhoyono has been too soft in his stance against corruption and acts of religious intolerance).