Erick Thohir’s popularity grows as potential VP candidate

Several pro-government parties have tapped Erick for the vice presidential candidacy.


State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir is greeted by residents before touring the Bung Karno Exile House in Bengkulu on Jan. 24.

March 28, 2023

JAKARTA – State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir, who was recently elected chairman of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI), has experienced a boost in popularity as a potential vice presidential candidate, a recent election survey shows.

The minister is still trailing behind the top two potential candidates, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, but he has enjoyed the highest increase in popularity of all the figures considered in the survey series conducted by polling company Indikator Politik Indonesia.

His electability rating rose from 10.3 percent in December 2022 to 14.5 percent in February, when he was elected PSSI chairman with the support of many young football fans, according to the company’s latest election survey released on Sunday.

Erick is now competing for third place with Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, who also got 14.5 percent. Ridwan and Sandiaga are still leading the race with 21.2 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively. Of these possible contenders, only Ridwan’s electability rating fell from the previous survey (24.1 percent).

“When there was a downward trend [in popularity] for Ridwan Kamil, the support for Erick Thohir surged, while the other candidates’ electability ratings did not change much,” Indikator Politik Indonesia executive director Burhannudin Muhtadi said at the release of the survey, which was streamed on YouTube.

The latest poll could boost Erick’s chances of being nominated as a VP candidate, but he has yet to make any electoral intentions public.


Ganjar-Erick ticket?

Several pro-government parties have tapped Erick for the vice presidential candidacy. The National Mandate Party (PAN), for instance, has proposed that Erick be paired with Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, the most popular figure for the presidency, according to various pollsters.

Political observer Muhammad Qadari, a supporter of the controversial proposal to extend President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s time in office beyond his two-term limit, said it was likely that the President was trying to pair Ganjar with Erick.

Pak Ganjar and Pak Erick in the past half a year have often come together, along with President Jokowi. What is Jokowi doing here? [He is serving] as the superior of Pak Ganjar and Pak Erick and also as the matchmaker for the Ganjar-Erick pairing,” he said, as quoted by

Prabowo has also reportedly considered Erick as a potential running mate. The two have met in several closed-door meetings, including one in Erick’s office in June 2022 and one in Prabowo’s private residence in Hambalang, West Java, in October of that year.


Personal brand

Speaking at a discussion held by earlier this month, Romahurmuziy “Rommy”, former United Development Party (PPP) chairman from 2016-2019 who now chairs the party’s advisory council, claimed he was told that Erick and Sandiaga had been asked by the President to “popularize” themselves ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The PPP, the only Islamic party in the ruling coalition, has decided to provide a platform for both Erick and Sandiaga to gain the public’s attention ahead of 2024.

“We give them space to get themselves known at the PPP. The decision [of whether they will be nominated as presidential or vice-presidential candidates] will be reached later,” Rommy said.


VP pick factor

Burhanuddin claimed the vice presidential pick could be a key to electoral victory in 2024 and that a good candidate would be able to ensure that the new president’s political platform was carried out.

“A vice president has huge significance electorally and non-electorally,” he said.

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