Former fisheries minister Susi emerges as possible running mate for Anies

Pressure from the electoral alliance’s constituent parties has been mounting on Anies to name who will run alongside him.

Dio Suhenda

Dio Suhenda

The Jakarta Post


Anies Baswedan poses with people on a street in Jakarta, on Nov. 1. (AFP/Goh Chai Hin)(AFP/Goh Chai Hin)

July 27, 2023

JAKARTA – A recent meeting between opposition presidential candidate Anies Baswedan and former maritime affairs and fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti has led to speculation that he is considering her as his running mate, a notion that has split, yet again, the three-way alliance backing his candidacy.

Pressure from the electoral alliance’s constituent parties – the NasDem Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) – has been mounting on Anies to name who will run alongside him on their combined ticket, as the former Jakarta governor contends with a slide in opinion polls.

He visited Susi at her private residence in the coastal West Java regency of Pangandaran on Monday and stayed there until Tuesday.

“[We had] casual conversations about a lot of topics. Some were serious, some were light-hearted and some were about political and social [issues],” Anies said on Tuesday of his meeting with Susi, as quoted by

Susi, meanwhile, reportedly declined to answer when reporters asked whether she and Anies had discussed the question of his running mate.

Just a week before her meeting with Anies, Susi received Anies’ potential rival in 2024, Prabowo Subianto, at her Pangandaran residence. But she played down suggestions that she was looking to partner up with the Gerindra Party chairman and presumptive presidential nominee, who also has yet to name his running mate.

Split alliance

As the three members of Anies’ electoral alliance have failed to agree on a vice presidential candidate, they have decided to leave it to Anies to select a running mate out of a handful of vetted candidates.

But following Anies’ meeting with Susi, NasDem, which was the first party to publicly support Anies’ presidential bid, said it would back the pairing.

“Anies’ vice presidential candidate must be [a woman], have no criminal record and have experience in government. Susi meets all these requirements,” NasDem secretary-general Hermawi Taslim said on Tuesday, as quoted by

Senior PKS politician Mardani Ali Sera said on Tuesday that Susi would be a “good match” for Anies, as she could help make the ticket more appealing to female voters.

But he also said Democratic Party chair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and former West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan, who is a member of the PKS, were still the frontrunners to be Anies’ running mate, reported.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have played down the suggestion, claiming that Anies had decided on a running mate before he visited Susi.

“In our opinion, the speculation that [Susi] could be a potential vice presidential candidate just because of her meeting [with Anies] is too far-fetched,” Democratic Party spokesperson Herzaky Mahendra said on Tuesday, as quoted by

Previously, Anies’ camp was split over NasDem’s proposal to name Yenny Wahid, the second daughter of former president and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leader Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, as Anies’ running mate. She has hinted at her disinterest in the position.

Some other names were previously floated, including East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa; Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD; and Ilham Habibie, the third son of former president BJ Habibie. But most either turned down the alliance’s offer or were evasive.

Unlikely pairing

Susi served as fisheries minister during President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first term. While she hasn’t held a post in the government since 2019, Susi remains a well-liked figure in the maritime community largely thanks to her popular policy of sinking boats caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters during her time as minister.

But this track record has not translated into high electability polling. In the latest public opinion survey by Indikator Politik Indonesia, Susi had an electability rating of just 1 percent, putting her in the 9th spot of 17 prospective vice presidential candidates in the survey.

While NasDem and the PKS might be open to pairing Anies with Susi, analyst Adi Prayitno told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that Susi’s poor electability polling and lack of political backing made it unlikely that the Democrats would support the pairing.

“[Democratic Party chair] Agus is by far more popular and electable than Susi,” Adi said. “It’s clear that for the Democrats, Agus [as VP] is non-negotiable, and without the Democrats, the alliance would struggle to pass the electoral threshold to be eligible to field a candidate pair.”

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