January 31, 2024
JAKARTA – Political bigwigs have stepped out onto the campaign trail to help woo voters for the presidential candidates they back in the last weeks of this year’s election campaign period.
The party leaders and other notable political figures have visited several election hotspots both with and without the presidential candidates they support, including visits to rival camps, but analysts doubt these moves are effective at snatching supporters from rivals.
Among the first to go on the campaign trail was Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chair Megawati Soekarnoputri, who accompanied the party’s presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo at a campaign event in Bandung, West Java on Jan. 21.
According to a poll in September from pollster Poltracking, West Java remained a stronghold for Ganjar’s rival Prabowo Subianto and his Gerindra Party, which garnered the most votes during the 2019 election.
During the event, Megawati likened the Feb. 14 election to the founding fathers’ struggle for independence, suggesting to the thousands of attendants donning red attributes, the party’s color, that voting for Ganjar-Mahfud MD would best align with the country’s vision of independence.
“When you vote, will you remain faithful to your principles, or will you take money instead? If you’re true [to your beliefs], then you will ensure that candidate number three wins!” the PDI-P matriarch said, referring to the Ganjar-Mahfud ballot number.
Megawati was initially slated to appear with Ganjar at more campaign rallies, including at Maimun Palace in Medan, North Sumatra on Sunday. However, she did not attend the event.
Presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo (center) greets his supporters with his wife Siti Atikoh (left) and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri on Jan. 21, 2024, during a campaign event at Tegalega Square in Bandung, West Java. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)
He visited several provinces, including West Nusa Tenggara, Bali and South Kalimantan, a province where Golkar Party dominated in the 2019 election. In South Kalimantan, he delivered a fiery speech to woo the attendants to vote for Anies, whom he called “the country’s best choice”.
“We want to bring meaningful changes for the advancement of our beloved country,” Surya said during a campaign rally in South Kalimantan on Jan. 24. “When anyone asks why we chose [Anies] and not anyone else, it’s because NasDem wants to be consistent with its principles.”
Also seen accompanying Anies on the campaign trail was former vice president Jusuf Kalla. He went with the presidential candidate to several campaign events in the country’s eastern provinces.
Kalla previously declared his support for the former Jakarta governor in late December, saying that he believed Anies had the economic understanding to navigate global issues.
Anies, Surya and Kalla convened in a rally at Tegalega Field in Bandung, West Java on Sunday.
“I see their attendance here is a clear message to stay true with the fight for change. They are sending a message of red and white nationalism and unity to keep the country from slipping up,” Anies said on Sunday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Presidential candidate Anies Baswedan (right) stands with NasDem Party Chairman Surya Paloh (center) and former vice president Jusuf Kalla on Jan. 28, 2024, during a party campaign event in Bandung, West Java. (Antara/Raisan Al Farisi)
While never proclaiming his support publicly, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told the press recently that he was legally allowed to campaign for certain candidates ahead of the 2024 election.
He made the statement while standing next to Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, a contender in the upcoming election. Prabowo is running for office with Jokowi’s eldest son, Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka.
On Monday, Prabowo accompanied Jokowi at the inauguration of a building in the Magelang Military Academy in Central Java. After the event, both politicians had lunch together at a nearby meatball stall.
When asked about why he often dines privately with Prabowo, Jokowi answered shortly: “The food was delicious.”
The Monday lunch was the second time Jokowi dined privately with Prabowo, after a dinner in Jakarta earlier this month. The palace confirmed the hour-long dinner at that time, with presidential special staff coordinator Ari Dwipayana saying that the President only mentioned that the food at the restaurant was delicious.
President Joko “Jokowi“ Widodo (left), accompanied by (from left) Army chief of staff Gen. Maruli Simanjuntak, House of Representatives lawmaker on Commission I overseeing defense Meutya Hafid of the Golkar Party and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, attends a press conference on Jan. 24, 2024, after an aircraft handover from the government to the Indonesian Military (TNI), at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta. (Antara/Galih Pradipta)
With only two weeks left until the end of the campaign period, experts said the participation of political bigwigs on the campaign trail would act as a morale boost for supporters ahead of the Feb. 14 voting day. Their visits can serve as an occasion to organize all components of the political machine.
“They are primarily to strengthen existing assets, heat up the machine and reignite the spirits of the cadres and supporters alike,” said Firman Noor, political expert at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).
In their rivals’ stronghold, these figures were aiming to consolidate existing political networks and support to minimize losses.
“It’s very much expected for them to campaign in their rivals’ bases to make sure that their losses won’t be too extreme. It’s not like they’re actually expecting victories there,” said political analyst Adi Prayitno at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN).
The expert concurred it remained unclear whether campaign rallies could sway swing voters, which comprise up to 11 percent of all voters according to recent surveys.
The campaign period for the upcoming election will last until Feb. 10, before entering the three-day quiet period.
In a recent survey by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), the Prabowo-Gibran pair kept a significant lead over their rivals with 47 percent of voters favoring them, followed by Anies-Muhaimin at 23.2 percent and Ganjar-Mahfud at 21.7 percent.