Indonesia’s presidential candidates on the move ahead of official campaign season

The General Elections Commission is planning to hold an event inviting all three presidential candidate pairs to ensure they contest the election peacefully and fairly, a day before the start of the campaign season.

Dio Suhenda and Yerica Lai

Dio Suhenda and Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


Presidential and vice presidential candidates (from left) Anies Baswedan and running mate Muhaimin Iskandar, Prabowo Subianto and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka and Ganjar Pranowo and running mate Mahfud MD pose for the media on Nov. 14 at the General Elections Commission office in Jakarta. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

November 27, 2023

JAKARTA – Although the campaign season does not begin in earnest until Wednesday, all three presidential candidates and their running mates have not missed the chance to hit the trail early, making appearances at rallies and discussions in the past weeks in hopes of luring voters ahead of the February election.

Presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), who will contest the election with running mate Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, was in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Sunday to participate in a morning run.

There, he greeted hundreds of his supporters and posed for photos while holding up the number three using his fingers – in reference to his unique number on the February ballot.

His visit to Makassar came just days after he made an appearance in Sorong, the capital of Southwest Papua province. Both Makassar and Sorong are in Eastern Indonesia, which is where Ganjar is expected to kickstart his official campaign.

Ganjar, however, is not the only name on the February ballot to recently make a foray into Makassar. Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son who is the running mate to Gerindra Party chair Prabowo Subianto, also made an appearance in the city on Friday and Saturday.

Read also: Candidate profile: Ganjar Pranowo

Like Ganjar, Gibran also participated in a morning run, where he distributed keychains with his face, to his supporters.

The third presidential candidate Anies Baswedan, meanwhile, made an appearance at a launch event for the Prosperous Justice Party’s (PKS) election campaign strategy at the party’s office in Depok, West Java. The PKS is one of three parties backing Anies and his running mate Muhaimin Iskandar of the National Awakening Party (PKB).

The former Jakarta governor also participated in a Saturday event hosted by environmental NGO the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in South Jakarta, where his two presidential contenders were notably absent despite having been invited to speak.

Read also: Candidate profile: Anies Baswedan

The 75-day campaign season will officially start on Tuesday and last until Feb. 10 of next year, but all three candidate pairs have been touring the country since they were deemed eligible to run in mid-November.

Peaceful election

The General Elections Commission (KPU) is planning to hold an event on Monday, inviting all three pairs to ensure they contest the election peacefully and fairly, a day before the start of the campaign season.

The KPU moved the event, called the “peaceful declaration”, from the Gelora Bung Karno stadium to its headquarters in Central Jakarta, without providing an explanation for the relocation. The poll body has also invited the President to the event.

Read also: Ganjar reaches out to Anies’ camp ahead of 2024 campaign season

As President Jokowi has a stake in the 2024 general election because of his eldest son’s VP candidacy, some observers and election contenders, particularly politicians from the camps supporting Anies and Ganjar, have voiced concern that state apparatus could side with Prabowo and Gibran.

Eyes on Java

Come Tuesday, the heavily populated provinces of West, Central and East Java are expected to command the attention of all three presidential camps.

West Java, the country’s most populous province, has traditionally been a reliable source of votes for Prabowo, who secured 59 percent of votes there in the 2014 and 2019 elections against then-rival Jokowi.

Read also: Candidate profile: Prabowo Subianto

Prabowo and Gibran’s prospects of securing an even wider lead seems to be boosted by the fact that former West Java governor Ridwan Kamil is spearheading their campaign in the province.

Central Java, meanwhile, has for years been a stronghold of the PDI-P, and Ganjar is a former governor of the province. Senior PDI-P politician Bambang Wuryanto, who is in charge of campaigning in Central Java, said the party targeted to win 60 percent of votes in the province, where 21.7 million of 27.9 million eligible voters turned out to vote in 2019.

“We will ensure that we win this presidential election in a single round. [Central Java] will contribute around 11 million votes [for Ganjar-Mahfud],” Bambang said.

But with Gibran, who has been Surakarta mayor since 2020, running with Prabowo, their camp might see much better performance in the province.

Gibran in recent weeks has been touring cities in Central Java. “Central Java is not an easy one, it is not our stronghold,” Gibran said recently. “I have to go around Central Java first because it is the hardest. My supporters will also work hard in Central Java.”

Read also: Competitive three-horse race to succeed Jokowi is on

Anies and Muhaimin, on the other hand, are expected to focus their campaign in Jakarta, but have also included Central Java, West Java, East Java and Banten on their priority list, campaign manager Muhammad Syaugi said.

Each of the candidate pairs is hoping for a swift victory on the ballot next year. But analysts predict that the election will almost certainly necessitate a runoff given that no candidate pair is polling above or near 50 percent, the threshold to score an outright win.

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