Indonesia: The potential VP candidates: Who are they?

A female Muslim figure, a young businessman, a military general or a popular regional head? Several names are being floated.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


An officer with the General Elections Commission (KPU) introduces five different ballots at the KPU building in Central Jakarta in 2018. Each voter brought up to five ballots to vote for the president, vice president, lawmakers and councilors at the provincial, city and regency level to the voting booth in the 2019 elections.(The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

October 21, 2022

JAKARTA – A female Muslim figure, a young businessman, a military general or a popular regional head? The question of who will run along the presidential nominees for the upcoming presidential election may provide a glimpse of political parties’ election strategies.

In recent days, the names of several influential figures have been floating around as potential vice presidential candidates by political parties that are seeking to broaden their appeal as the elections approach.

“We have proposed that Anies’ running mate be someone from outside political parties so that each coalition member will have an equal footing,” Ahmad Ali, deputy chairman of the NasDem Party told The Jakarta Post recently.

Ali said that several names pitched by the NasDem Party include the Indonesian Military Commander (TNI) Gen. Andika Perkasa, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa and West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil. “

The latter two are regional leaders and it cannot be denied that West Java and East Java are regions with a very strong cultural appeal, so we consider that to be a factor,” Ali said.

Why Anies needs Khofifah

Surveys have shown that Anies is a popular choice among voters in Jakarta, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Maluku and Papua, but failed to dominate the most populous provinces of West Java, Central Java and East Java.

Past elections have shown that votes from the nation’s largest grassroots Muslim organization the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) strongholds East Java and Central Java were key battleground provinces to win the elections.

Khofifah, a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), is also the chairwoman of NU’s women’s wing PP Muslimat.

“Khofifah would be the most fitting choice for Anies as she would help him mobilize NU support. Moreover, Khofifah is popular among housewives, a demographic group that plays an important role in our elections,” Ujang Komarudin, political analyst of the Indonesia Political Review told the Post.

While the PKS has also put forward Khofifah among other non-PKS politicians to run as Anies’ running mate, the Democratic Party is still pushing for its chairman Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) — who is struggling to boost his electability rates — to contest the 2024 election, either as president or as vice president.

Questions have been raised if Agus can help Anies in East Java.

Prabowo sets eyes on Erick

Competition between popular outsiders and political elites for the country’s second top post also brought a similar challenge to Prabowo’s presidential bid.

Gerindra had previously entered into a political agreement with the PKB, which insisted on nominating its chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, who has failed to gain significant support based on surveys by credible pollsters, as a presidential candidate or at least as Prabowo’s running mate.

Both parties signed a document in mid-August pledging that additional coalition partners and the nomination of a presidential and vice presidential candidate pair would be jointly agreed by both Prabowo and Muhaimin.

“We at the regional branches have preferred a running mate who can contribute to Prabowo’s electability,” Hendrick Lewerissa, head of Gerindra’s Maluku branch, told the Post on Tuesday.

A survey by Indikator Politik, which polled 1,220 respondents across the country between Sept. 13-20, found that Erick Thohir was the most competitive vice presidential candidate and put him as a gamechanger in the coalition map as he was able to give a boost to presidential candidates running with him.

In a simulation, the Prabowo-Erick pair fielded the highest of the vote at 37.3 percent, beating the Ganjar-Puan pair at 34.4 percent, the Airlangga-Ridwan pair at 10.8 percent and 17.5 percent of surveyed voters declined to answer.

Another simulation, however, found that if Erick runs alongside Ganjar as his running mate, the pair topped the polls with 43.1 percent of the vote, followed by the Prabowo-Muhaimin pair with 32 percent, the Airlangga-Ridwan pair with 9.9 percent, while 15 percent declined to answer.

Erick, who has remained silent on his VP candidacy ambition, has grown closer with the NU, marked by his inauguration as an honorary member of the Islamic group’s youth wing, Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) last year. As State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister, he also initiated a number of programs that are close to Islamic boarding schools and students.

Prabowo’s interest in Erick has slowly come to light as the two have been seen in several closed-door meetings, both in the latter’s office back in June and the former’s private residence in Hambalang, West Java, earlier this month.

When asked about the possibility of Erick being vetted as Prabowo’s running mate, Gerindra Party elites were philosophical in their answer. “Erick Thohir is a young figure who has an excellent capacity and track record as a leader in various organizations and companies as well as the SOEs Minister. However, we will return to the rules of the game that have been mutually agreed upon [between Gerindra and the PKB],” Budi Djiwandono, Gerindra’s campaign team spokesperson, said.

Who will run with Ganjar or Puan?

Political analysts have said that the coalition map remains fluid today as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the ruling party of which President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo is a member of and the only party that has enough legislative seats to nominate a presidential candidate on its own, has yet to decide on whom it will give its presidential ticket to.

Popular Central Java Governor and PDI-P politician Ganjar Pranowo has recently said he was ready to run as a presidential candidate in 2024 but his presidential bid rests not only with the PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri, who has the final say on who will represent the party in the presidential race, but also her daughter, Puan Maharani, who also has her eye on the presidency.

The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which has no seats in the legislative body, has proposed that Ganjar be paired with Yenny Wahid, one of the daughters of former president and respected NU chairman Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid.

It is unclear if Puan is going to run for president, but analysts have said that it is possible that the PDI-P would pair her with Prabowo, as it is highly unlikely that the party would go it alone in the presidential election.

Meanwhile, the Golkar Party-led alliance with the United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), the Islam-based National Mandate Party (PAN) and United Development Party has yet to enter another discussion on a presidential candidate but previously has said that it is open to the option of nominating a popular political outsider, including Ganjar.

“What we are seeing now is parties moving to secure their ticket. We can still expect political realignment as parties have not locked each other,” said Ujang.

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