July 13, 2023
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has played down the growing number of billboards featuring him and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, a potential rival to Ganjar Pranowo, the 2024 presidential candidate of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which the President is also a member.
“Well, what can I say? Pictures of me were not used only by Prabowo or [his] Gerindra Party,” Jokowi said on Tuesday.
“The PDI-P used it. But so did the Indonesia Solidarity Party [PSI] and the NasDem Party. In East Nusa Tenggara, I saw [posters featuring] Viktor Laiskodat and me,” he continued, referring to the NasDem politician who recently resigned as East Nusa Tenggara governor to run for a seat in the national legislature next year.
Billboards featuring the President and presumptive Gerindra nominee Prabowo and bearing the slogan, “Win together for a great Indonesia”, have popped up in recent weeks on some streets in Pati, Brebes and Surakarta in Central Java, long a political stronghold of the ruling PDI-P and Jokowi.
Despite attending numerous rallies for Ganjar, Jokowi has been meeting frequently with Prabowo of late, prompting analysts to speculate that the President is leaning toward his former rival in the 2014 and 2019 elections.
They have also said that the political materials portraying Prabowo as a close ally of Jokowi is a tactic to exploit the President’s ambiguous stance and diminish Ganjar’s support base.
The PDI-P has pushed back against the growing perception that Jokowi is throwing his weight behind Prabowo, calling it “untrue”. It has also said that the President had given the party specific directions to help Ganjar win next year.
PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto underlined that riding on Jokowi’s coattails was not as simple as installing posters picturing a potential nominee with the President.
“Those putting up billboards for electoral gain will be left disappointed,” Hasto said.
The official campaign period for the 2024 general election starts on Nov. 28.