Indonesia looks set for three-horse, two-round 2024 race

The prospect for the establishment of a grand alliance has grown dim, now that pro-government parties must choose between two strong candidates: Ganjar and Prabowo.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri (left) and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo (right) prepare to shake hands immediately following Megawati’s announcement that the party was backing Ganjar as its 2024 presidential candidate on Friday in Bogor, West Java.(JP/PDI-P)

April 25, 2023

JAKARTA – Indonesian voters are highly likely to be casting their ballots in a three-horse presidential race come 2024, following the surprise nomination of Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), quashing hopes for a quick election with the establishment of a “grand coalition” of pro-government parties.

Party leaders had earlier floated the idea of building a major alliance of parties supporting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as a unified front to take on former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, who is backed by the NasDem Party and opposition parties, in hopes that next year’s election would conclude in a single round.

Now that Ganjar is on the PDI-P’s ticket, chances are high that the presidential race will need a second round, given that none of the potential contenders – Ganjar, Anies or Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto – are likely to garner more than 50 percent of the vote that is legally required to win.

The prospect for the establishment of a grand alliance has grown dim, now that pro-government parties must choose between two strong candidates: Ganjar and Prabowo.

‘Ganjar effect’

Ganjar’s nomination is expected to put other parties in the ruling government coalition in a quandary over which candidate to support. The PDI-P, the largest pro-government party, is now seeking electoral allies to support Ganjar.

While the party has enough legislative seats to field a presidential candidate on its own, Megawati instructed her daughter and House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani to explore the possibility of forging an electoral partnership with other parties over the Idul Fitri holiday.

Most parties have publicly voiced their support for Ganjar. These include the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) of the Golkar-led United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), which has described Ganjar as part of its “big family”.

The PPP was set to nominate its presidential candidate at its national work meeting sometime soon, party politician Achmad Baidowi said. He added, “the party’s regional branches have mentioned Ganjar as a potential presidential candidate”.

The National Mandate Party (PAN), another KIB member, has also expressed an interest in holding alliance talks with the PDI-P. “PAN is ready to communicate with any political power,” PAN chairman Zulkifli Hassan said over the weekend.

The KIB expected to hold an internal meeting in the coming days to respond to the PDI-P’s nomination of Ganjar, he added.

A Ganjar-Prabowo ticket?

The only feasible way for all parties in the ruling coalition to back a single ticket in 2024 would be to pair Ganjar and Prabowo. But this remains an unlikely scenario, as both the PDI-P and Gerindra insist that their preferred candidate should get the presidential slot.

Gerindra has already forged an electoral alliance with the National Awakening Party (PKB) and thus has enough legislative seats together to nominate Prabowo, with or without the support of the PDI-P or parties in the KIB.

While Gerindra welcomes the idea of joining forces with the PDI-P, it has zero interest in the vice presidential slot. Instead, it has argued that Prabowo, a two-time presidential nominee, has the experience, track record and charisma necessary to be president.

“My party nominated me as a presidential candidate and my party is quite strong now,” Prabowo said on Saturday when asked about being Ganjar’s running mate.

The defense minister has made substantial electoral gains following a series of high-profile meetings with other political elites, including the President, who has reportedly tapped him as a potential successor that would protect his legacy.

Prabowo, who lost twice successively to Jokowi in 2014 and 2019, now outpaces Ganjar in the latest surveys.

Jokowi, power broker

Whether or not a Ganjar-Prabowo or Prabowo-Ganjar pairing might materialize now hinged on the President’s astuteness in brokering the potential alliance, said Agung Baskoro, a political analyst at Trias Strategis Politika.

Jokowi is still widely considered a powerful political figure with approval ratings of over 75 percent according to the latest survey, even though he has no political party of his own. In addition to his popularity, the President also has at his disposal an army of online and offline political volunteers ready to mobilize.

“Finding common ground between the interests of various parties is not an easy job, considering that [some] party leaders are vying for the presidential slot in the hope that their candidacy will have [a coattail] effect on their parties,” he said.

“The PDI-P’s condition of Ganjar getting the presidential slot to join the proposed grand alliance will present dilemmas among parties, which, if not managed well, will turn the upcoming presidential election into a three-way race.”

Anies camp solidifies

Whether it would alter the 2024 race into a two or three-horse race, said Agung, Ganjar’s nomination was likely to solidify the Coalition of Change for Unity (KPP), Anies’ political vehicle.

“It will motivate members of the KPP to make a move in finding the ideal running mate for Anies,” he said.

The alliance, which consists of the pro-government NasDem and the opposition Democratic Party and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), has yet to agree on who will run as Anies’ vice president. (ahw)

scroll to top