December 20, 2023
JAKARTA – While much of the discourse on the presidential race has surrounded which candidates will make it to a likely runoff vote, all three camps have been accused of campaign violations just four weeks into the official campaign period.
According to recent opinion polls, presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka are the pair to beat heading into the February 2024 election. Rivals Ganjar Pranowo and his running mate Mahfud MD as well as Anies Baswedan and running mate Muhaimin Iskandar are locked in a tight race for a spot in the possible runoff.
Prabowo and Gibran have also been accused of campaign violations, with the General Elections Commission (KPU) reprimanding Gibran on Monday for his actions at last week’s inaugural presidential debate.
“In a meeting evaluating [the first presidential debate], we have conveyed things that were not in accordance with the agreement we made at the beginning, including a vice presidential candidate giving signs and codes to encourage his supporters. That’s not allowed,” KPU chair Hasyim Asy’ari said on Monday, as quoted by Kompas.com.
He was referring to a moment during the debate when Gibran stood up from his chair in the audience section and gestured to his supporters to applaud Prabowo’s response to a question from Anies.
Anies had asked how Prabowo felt when then-Constitutional Court chief justice Anwar Usman was found guilty of an ethics violation over a court decision that enabled Gibran, Anwar’s nephew, to run for the vice presidency.
Hasyim said he had reprimanded Gibran at the Monday meeting and had reminded all three campaign teams to be disciplined in their adherence to the rules ahead of the second election debate, scheduled for Friday.
The Friday debate will be the first to feature the three vice presidential candidates and will explore topics of the economy, investment, trade and infrastructure.
Prabowo has also been criticized on social media for the presence of Maj. Teddy Indra Wijaya, an active Indonesian Military (TNI) officer who is serving as Prabowo’s aide at the Defense Ministry, at last week’s debate, stoking concerns about partisanship within ostensibly neutral state institutions.
Gibran, meanwhile, was reported to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) earlier this month for allegedly conducting campaign activities at a Car-Free Day event in Jakarta, during which he distributed milk to children. A 2016 Jakarta gubernatorial regulation bans campaign activates at Car-Free Day events.
Gibran has denied that giving out milk constituted campaigning, saying earlier this month that he was not in possession of any campaign imagery or materials at the event and did not ask the people he encountered there to vote for him.
Bawaslu’s Jakarta office said on Sunday that it was still investigating the allegations.
“[We have decided to add] seven more days [to the investigation period], as it’s still ongoing. We will convey the overall results [of the investigation] at a later date,” Bawaslu member Benny Sabdo said at a Sunday press conference, as quoted by Kompas.com.
The office also reprimanded the All-Indonesia Village Administration Association (Apdesi) for its role in organizing a gathering in late November that many saw as an attempt to marshal support for the Prabowo-Gibran ticket among village heads.
Prabowo and Gibran are not the only candidates to have come under Bawaslu’s lens. Vice presidential candidates Mahfud and Muhaimin, the running mates of Ganjar and Anies, respectively, were also reported to the agency for alleged misconduct.
The reports against them, which were filed with Bawaslu last month, objected to statements they made at the KPU’s ballot number drawing event on Nov. 14, some two weeks before the start of the official campaign period.
In their speeches at the event, both Mahfud and Muhaimin used a traditional rhyming poetic form called a pantun to call on the public to vote for them. The reports accused both candidates of campaigning ahead of the official period.
Mahfud’s camp and Muhaimin himself have denied that their pantun were in violation of KPU regulations, saying their poems were in jest and not a serious attempt to win votes.
Bawaslu went on to rule on Dec. 7 that Mahfud and Muhaimin’s poems did not contravene any laws or regulations.