September 20, 2022
JAKARTA – A picture of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, posing together with leaders of three political parties that have expressed their interest in nominating him as a presidential candidate, has sparked speculation about the impending establishment of a political axis to challenge the pro-government candidate in the 2024 presidential race.
The picture, uploaded on Twitter by Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Andi Arief, was taken at a wedding reception for Fajrina Kharizia, daughter of NasDem politician Sugeng Suparwoto, which was held at the InterContinental Pondok Indah hotel in South Jakarta on Sunday. Former vice president Jusuf Kalla, a close ally of Anies, was also featured in the photo.
It was the first time that Anies and the three party leaders — Surya Paloh of the NasDem Party, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono of the Democratic Party and Ahmad Syaikhu of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) — had met since the former announced his willingness to run for president if nominated by a political party.
Both Anies and the parties have downplayed the importance of the meeting despite analysts saying that the gesture indicates that Anies may be inching closer to getting a presidential ticket for 2024.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post, Democrat spokesman Herzaky Mahendra said that the meeting was coincidental and informal. “There was mention of politics, and of the Democrat’s [national leadership meeting], but the talks were mostly light as we have another forum for more formal talks”, said Herzaky.
When asked about a potential coalition with the NasDems and the PKS, Herzaky said that there was already a mutual understanding between the three parties, and whether it led to a formal agreement among them was just a matter of time. Ahmad Ali of the NasDems also confirmed the coincidental nature of the meeting.
“They met at the wedding of Pak Sugeng’s daughter. As he is a politician, of course he invited other politicians to the wedding, and they just happened to meet there”, said Ali as quoted by Kompas.
Meanwhile, Anies said that he was just there to “witness the wedding ceremony and attend the reception”. As quoted by Tempo, he referred any questions regarding the presidential election to the parties, as they are in charge of nominating the candidates.
The meeting of the three parties and Anies speak volumes about their relationships, said Arya Fernandes, political analyst from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“Looking at the political moves by the three political parties, they seem to be verging ever closer to deciding who to nominate as president and vice-president”, he said. With Agus showing low electability numbers, especially when compared with Anies, Arya has calculated that the three parties have little choice other than the outgoing Jakarta governor.
A Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) poll from August shows Anies coming in third with 14.4 percent of the vote, behind Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo with 25.5 percent and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto with 16.7 percent, but far ahead of the 3.8 percent netted by Agus.
Arya surmised that three parties were simply waiting for the right moment to formally announce their presidential candidate, although he added that deciding who the running mate is “will be a tough negotiation between the three”.
Anies’ path to nomination
Anies, who will step down as Jakarta governor next month, has publicly expressed his presidential bid. “If [a party decides] to nominate me, I’ll take it as a call of duty. I will do it,” he said during an interview with the Post on Sept. 9.
The Constitution does not allow independent candidates for the presidency, and the General Elections Law requires a political party or a coalition of parties to control at least 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives to be eligible to nominate a presidential candidate.
As one of the few prospective candidates not affiliated with any parties, Anies said he was prepared to join one to facilitate a presidential run.
Together, the NasDems, the PKS and Democrats hold 28.3 percent of the seats in the House, more than enough to nominate a candidate. Democratic Party spokesperson Herzaky Mahendra Putra has previously indicated that the three parties have been exploring a potential alliance for the 2024 election.
The NasDems have formally included Anies on their list of potential presidential candidates.
At the Democrat’s national-leadership meeting on Friday, the party did not name any presidential nominee for 2024. The party claims that grassroots members were pushing for Agus, popularly referred to as AHY, to run either as president or vice president, and they have previously indicated that they are exploring the possibility of an Anies-AHY pairing.
The PKS, which supported Anies’ Jakarta gubernatorial bid in 2017, has also hinted at throwing its support behind Anies for 2024. (ahw)