Battlegrounds tumble in favour of Prabowo, tally shows

The General Elections Commission has confirmed presidential frontrunner Prabowo Subianto’s upset win in key battleground provinces, as organizers raced to conclude the election vote tally by the March 20 deadline.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


General Elections Commission chairman Hasyim Asy'ari (second left) and commissioners Yulianto Sudrajat (left), Parsadaan Harahap (second right) and Betty Epsilon Idroos (right) preside over a 2024 elections tabulation meeting for votes from South Kalimantan. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

March 15, 2024

JAKARTA – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has confirmed presidential frontrunner Prabowo Subianto’s upset win in key battleground provinces, as organizers raced to conclude the 2024 election vote tally by the March 20 deadline.

Data from the vote tabulation at the provincial level by the KPU showed Prabowo, who ran with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, won a comfortable lead in the provinces of Java, home to more than 60 percent of the country’s population.

Prabowo-Gibran exhibited a strong showing in Central Java, widely seen for years as the stronghold of both Jokowi and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which had nominated former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo for the presidential race last month.

As a member of the PDI-P, Jokowi was present when the party announced the presidential bid of Ganjar, who had governed Central Java for the past decade until his tenure ended in September last year. But the President later appeared to shift his support toward Prabowo, who pledged to continue Jokowi’s legacy.

Prabowo-Gibran swept Central Java with over 12 million votes, according to data from the KPU, while Ganjar, who ran alongside Mahfud MD, a former senior minister in Jokowi’s cabinet, appeared to have lost his home advantage, garnering only about 7.8 million votes.

Anies Baswedan, alongside his running mate National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, came in a distant third with 2.8 million votes.

Not only in Central Java, the Prabowo-Gibran pair also holds a substantial lead of more than 12 million votes over his two rivals in neighboring East Java, another key battleground where the Defense Minister suffered a back-to-back defeat in previous elections against his then-rival Jokowi.

East Java is the country’s most populous province, where historically the PDI-P and Muhaimin’s PKB hold sway.

The Prabowo-Gibran pair, however, was able to take a strong lead, gaining 16.7 votes in the province ahead of Anies-Muhaimin, at 4.49 million votes, and Ganjar-Mahfud, with 4.43 million votes.

Analysts have said Prabowo’s likely win was made possible by the rebranding of his public persona and the playing field that was tipped in his favor in the lead-up to the election by Jokowi, who remains popular in his final year in office.

While he did not officially endorse any candidate, Jokowi was pretty much overt in indicating his support for Prabowo in the February election, analysts said. Former allies and supporters have also accused Jokowi of trying to cling to power and swing the election for his preferred candidate, including by engineering a court decision that effectively enabled his son to run as Prabowo’s vice presidential pick.

In Jakarta, Prabowo-Gibran gained 2.6 million votes, leading with a slim margin of about 40,000 votes ahead of Anies, who governed Indonesia’s capital as its governor from 2017 to 2022. Meanwhile, Ganjar came in third with 1.1 million votes.

While West Java has not yet certified the results pending the returns from Bekasi, Prabowo is already leading by a wide margin.

The campaign team of Prabowo and Gibran has welcomed their likely sweeping victory in the key battleground provinces, saying that it represented the voters’ optimism in the pair’s future leadership.

“With Prabowo-Gibran winning almost throughout Indonesia, we see that voters are happy with the high hopes that Prabowo-Gibran will provide,” Erwin Aksa, deputy chair of the campaign team, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Erwin noted that both Jokowi’s perceived endorsement and Prabowo’s new-found gemoy (adorable) persona played influential roles in the pair’s victory.

But the so-called “Jokowi effect” appeared to have failed to translate into success in the legislative election.

Despite Ganjar’s poor performance, the PDI-P won the most votes in eight out of 10 electoral districts in Central Java in the race for House of Representatives seats, allowing the country’s largest party to retain its dominance in its traditional stronghold.

The Golkar Party, a member of the electoral alliance backing Prabowo, led in the legislative race in the two remaining districts.

The PKB, which is affiliated with the country’s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), led in East Java in the legislative election. In 2019, PKB gained the second-highest number of votes after legislative winner PDI-P.

East Java has been widely known as a stronghold of NU, which counts some 40 million people as members and up to 150 million more as followers.

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