October 26, 2023
JAKARTA – The addition of Gerindra Party chair Prabowo Subianto and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the third presidential pairing in next February’s election has rounded up what analysts expect to be a highly contested three-horse race that will almost certainly necessitate a runoff.
Prabowo and Gibran registered with the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Wednesday, the closing day of the weeklong registration period and against a backdrop of political drama in the past week and the controversial court ruling that removed the legal barrier for Gibran, the eldest son of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, to run in the race.
They will compete for Indonesia’s top office next year against Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and running mate Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, as well as former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and running mate National Awakening Party (PKB) chair Muhaimin Iskandar. Both pairs registered last week.
Recent opinion polls have shown that Prabowo and Gibran are the pair to beat in the February election, although the Ganjar-Mahfud pair remain in a competitive second, with the Anies-Muhaimin pair languishing in third.
An Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) survey released on Sunday found that Prabowo-Gibran had an electability of 35.9 percent, followed by Ganjar-Mahfud at 26.1 percent, while Anies-Muhaimin only has an electability of 19.6 percent.
The Prabowo-Gibran pair also came out on top in a survey released by pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia last week, with an electability of 37.5 percent. Ganjar-Mahfud was in second at 32.2 percent, while Anies-Muhaimin was, once again, in third on 22.7 percent.
Both the Prabowo-Gibran and Ganjar-Mahfud pairings have positioned themselves as successors of President Jokowi, a PDI-P member who remains a highly popular president despite having less than a year left in office.
But with the official campaign opening only on Nov. 28, political analyst Firman Noor of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) believes everything is still to play for, as all three presidential candidates remain largely competitive with each other.
“I think the main takeaway we can learn from the surveys is that no one right now looks likely to garner 50 percent of the vote at first go. This makes a runoff all the more likely, particularly as we have three pairs who are relative to each other,” Firman said.
Much of the attention in the lead up to the 2024 election has been centered on which presidential pairing will have the competitive advantage in East Java, the country’s second-largest province. The region is considered to be a stronghold of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization.
Among the current presidential pairings, vice-presidential candidates the PKB’s Muhaimin and NU-affiliate Mahfud, along with their respective presidential candidates, are thought to be the frontrunners in the province.
Meanwhile, Prabowo, having snubbed East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who is an NU-affiliated figure, in favor of Gibran looks set to miss out.
Central Java, the country’s third-largest province, has for years been a stronghold of the PDI-P. It became Prabowo’s Achilles heel in his defeat to Jokowi in 2014 and 2019, as the former general only garnered 33 and 22 percent of votes in the province, respectively.
But the addition of Gibran, who has been Surakarta mayor since 2020, and other key figures in Prabowo’s camp might see a much better performance this time round in the competition for votes in Central Java against the former governor Ganjar.
“Gibran has only recently been declared [as Prabowo’s running mate]. But when he [starts campaigning], he will automatically create electoral effects that will, to a small or large extent, help make Prabowo more competitive in Central Java,” said analyst Agung Baskoro on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Prabowo and Gibran started their registration parade on Wednesday at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex, where they greeted tens of thousands of supporters. They proceeded by riding together in a locally made off-road car to the KPU office in Central Jakarta to officially lodge their bids.
Prabowo’s Indonesia Onward Coalition (KIM) is the largest electoral alliance heading into next year’s election, consisting of four legislature and five non-legislature parties. The Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI) is the most recent addition to the alliance, with party chief and Gibran’s youngest brother Kaesang Pangarep declaring its support for the Prabowo-Gibran pair on Tuesday.
Read also: PDI-P move puts Prabowo on the spot
In his first speech as a vice-presidential candidate on Wednesday, Gibran hinted that the pair’s campaign would hinge on economic incentives for different social groups, including an endowment fund for Islamic boarding schools, loans for “millennial-owned start-ups” and incentives for the elderly, as well as pregnant women.
In comparison, the Ganjar-Mahfud pair is running on a platform of equality, welfare and clean governance, while also seeking to advance science and establish a national digital ecosystem.
The Anies-Muhaimin platform, on the other hand, emphasizes equitable economic growth and sustainability.