October 13, 2022
JAKARTA – Days after being named the NasDem Party’s presidential candidate for the 2024 election, Anies Baswedan met with Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) on Friday. The Democrats have long been touted as one of NasDem’s potential coalition partners, but analysts say that any coalition talks will hinge on who Anies is going to pick as his running mate.
The pro-government NasDem currently holds 10 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, far below the 20 percent threshold necessary to field a presidential candidate. For Anies to officially take part in the 2024 election, NasDem has to form a coalition with other political parties, with opposition parties the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) thought to be at the top of the list.
While Friday’s meeting did not result in any official coalition announcement, both Agus and Anies commented on their growing chemistry. “We share the same vision and are guided by the same principle for the future, so it’s no surprise that we got along so well,” said Agus in a joint press conference held after the meeting.
Agus noted that they had known each other since before getting into politics, and their relationship remained strong even after both competed against each other in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, which Anies eventually won.
While Agus is not considered a frontrunner, Democrats spokesman Herzaky Mahendra Putra previously confirmed that the party was still pushing for Agus to contest the 2024 election, either as president or as vice president. Analysts say that the fate of a coalition between NasDem, the PKS and the Democrats might hinge on Anies’ running mate.
Bawono Kumoro of the Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik expects that negotiations with the Democrats will be considerably tougher than with the PKS. “Internally, the PKS has no strong figure [to put forward as VP],” Bawono told The Jakarta Post. “As the PKS has also enjoyed a close relationship with Anies since 2017, they might be easier to persuade”.
In an election, Bawono explained, the vice president served an important electoral function to shore up votes where support for the presidential candidate was lacking. Citing previous surveys, the pollster noted that Anies was lagging behind his main rivals in East and Central Java.
Previously, Mardani Ali Sera of the PKS had put forward Hidayat Nur Wahid and former West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan as Anies’ potential running mate. According to Tempo, Mardani also named other non-PKS politicians – East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and AHY as potential candidates. Khofifah and Ganjar, respectively, belong to the pro-government National Awakening Party (PKB) and the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the latter being the only party that can nominate a candidate without forming a coalition.
But with the presidential threshold to keep in mind and limited coalition options, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) political researcher Arya Fernandes believes that NasDem, the Dems and the PKS are going to have to prioritize realpolitik over electability.
“The Democratic Party knows that its support is integral to the coalition,” said Arya. “Why would it nominate external figures as vice president when it already has AHY?”
At this moment, the Democrat’s priority is getting all parties involved to agree to a coalition, forcing them to negotiate on who Anies is going to run with, said Arya. With the three parties lacking any alternative figure internally, Agus commands a strategic position in the ongoing discussion.
In a written statement sent to the Post, PKS deputy secretary-general Ahmad Fathul Bari said that vice presidential candidates would be discussed later on once a coalition had been finalized.
“We’re still processing things, but at a meeting of the Majelis Syuro [religious council – or the PKS’ highest policymaking body] in August, [we agreed that] we’re committed to nominating candidates that represent a nationalist-religious character for 2024,” said Fathul.
He said that while the PKS had developed a rapport with NasDem and the Democratic Party, the PKS still maintained communication with other parties as potential coalition partners.
With NasDem in his corner and now that he has met with Agus, Anies has set the PKS as his next stop. “Insya Allah [God willing], we could visit the PKS next, hopefully together we could chart a better course for Indonesia,” said Anies through his Instagram account.
Mardani confirmed that the PKS and Anies had been planning to formally meet in the near future. “We’ll likely meet sometime after Oct. 16. […] We’ve already asked Anies to fully commit to Jakarta until his end of term,” Mardani told kompas.com.
Elected as Jakarta governor in 2017, Anies’ term will expire on Sunday. On Friday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo appointed head of the Presidential Secretariat Heru Budi Hartono, to take over as interim governor until the next election in 2024 and to deal with the current flooding that has inundated the city since last week.