December 27, 2023
JAKARTA – Presidential candidates spent the majority of their fourth week of the campaign window trying to solidify support in their respective stronghold provinces, while also reaching out to new groups of voters in the hope of cementing their positions in a likely runoff election.
Ganjar Pranowo, the candidate backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-led alliance, kicked off last week’s campaign in Central Java, where he served as governor for two terms.
In the country’s third most-populous province, he spent his time in Wonosobo regency, meeting local residents and going to markets, emulating President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s trademark blusukan (impromptu visits).
Ganjar also opted not to spend the night in a hotel in the regency. Instead, he chose to stay at a local resident’s house.
Currently locked in a tight race with rival Anies Baswedan for a second spot in the likely runoff, Ganjar is still the man to beat in Central Java, which has also long been a traditional stronghold of the PDI-P.
In an opinion survey published in early December by pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia, a majority of voters in the province told surveyors that they preferred to vote for their former governor over other candidates.
Ganjar Pranowo (second right) talks with a resident in Bojasari village, Wonosobo regency, Central Java on Dec. 18, 2023. On the campaign trail in the regency, Ganjar opted to stay for a night in a resident’s house. “>Presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo (second right) talks with a resident in Bojasari village, Wonosobo regency, Central Java on Dec. 18, 2023. On the campaign trail in the regency, Ganjar opted to stay for a night in a resident’s house. (Antara/M Risyal Hidayat)
During his visit to Wonosobo, Ganjar restated his confidence of securing up to 70 percent of the vote in the province in the upcoming election.
“But the only way [to achieve the target] is by getting on the ground directly to meet and listen to the people,” the former Central Java governor said on Dec. 18, as quoted by kompas.com.
Like Ganjar, Anies also spent some time over the past week in his stronghold provinces of Jakarta, where he served as governor from 2017 to 2022, and Banten.
The Indikator poll showed Anies scoring 37.1 percent of support in the capital, ahead of rivals Ganjar and Prabowo Subianto. He also has a strong showing in the neighboring province with an electability of 40.3 percent.
Last Wednesday, Anies campaigned in Kelapa Gading district in North Jakarta, where he held a meeting with Protestant and Catholic members of his campaign team. The former Jakarta governor also met with local religious figures.
One day later, he went to the Banten provincial capital of Serang to hold a discussion with college students at a local university.
Frontrunner Prabowo and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, meanwhile, both elected to refrain from campaigning throughout most of the week in favor of attending to their duties as defense minister and mayor of Surakarta, Central Java, respectively.
Gibran, however, spent the Christmas Eve weekend in Jakarta before flying to Manado, North Sulawesi, to meet with young micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) owners and social media influencers.
The Surakarta mayor also attended a Christmas celebration held by a Golkar Party politician in the North Sulawesi provincial capital.
Appealing to new voters
Anies’ meeting with members of the Christian community in Jakarta was seen by observers as an effort to appeal to new groups of voters.
Backed by two Islamic parties, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), many regard Anies as the presidential candidate closest to Muslim groups.
During the gathering last Wednesday, Anies said Jakarta was peaceful thanks to interfaith policies he had implemented during his time as Jakarta governor. He promised to emulate similar policies on a national level should he be elected to presidential office next year.
“The reason why so far the atmosphere in Jakarta has been calm and peaceful is because there are equal opportunities given to all religious groups in Jakarta,” Anies said, as quoted by kompas.com
Meanwhile, Prabowo attended a gathering on Dec. 19 held by a group named the Indonesia Chinese-Indonesian Alliance, which declared its support for the defense minister’s presidential bid.
Prabowo has been a divisive figure among the Chinese-Indonesian community due to his alleged ties with and involvement in the 1998 riots, which saw attacks on thousands of Indonesians of Chinese descent. The former Army general, however, has never been found guilty by any court of the accusations leveled against him.
Speaking at the event, Prabowo was quoted by kompas.com as saying that he was “honored” to receive the alliance’s backing.
Also in Jakarta, Ganjar made his own effort to appeal to young voters, who are expected to make up the majority of the voter roll in February’s polls, by attending a youth-focused discussion with his son, Muhammad Zinedine Alam Ganjar.
During the event, the candidate called on the younger generation to be critical of the waves of misinformation spreading online, as reported by kompas.id.