September 29, 2023
JAKARTA – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Gerindra Party played down the potential formation of a big-tent coalition of parties that would combine their respective presumptive presidential candidates on a single ticket.
With the new late-October deadline for presidential election candidate registration fast approaching, party elites have been rehashing a proposal to pair the two frontrunners, Defense Minister and Gerindra chair Prabowo Subianto and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo of the PDI-P, on a single ticket. This would make Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar of the Coalition of Change for Unity (KPP) the only other candidate pair in next year’s election.
Both Prabowo and Ganjar have claimed to be natural successors of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who will continue his legacy.
Some PDI-P politicians, however, repeatedly shot down the idea of Ganjar running as Prabowo’s running mate, insisting that backtracking on the decision to nominate Ganjar as a presidential candidate was “almost impossible”.
“There has never been a precedent where the PDI-P, let alone Ibu Megawati, withdrew a decision,” politician Deddy Sitorus told The Jakarta Post, referring to party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.
“Ganjar is the PDI-P’s best choice to be nominated as the presidential candidate. The decision took careful consideration and extensive discussion. The focus of our chairwoman and party executives now is to decide on who will be the vice-presidential candidate, nothing else,” Deddy added.
Opting instead to press ahead with Ganjar’s presidential bid, the PDI-P has also suggested that it had narrowed down its own list of potential running mates for Ganjar, and that it was only a matter of time before the chosen candidate would be unveiled to the public.
“Our priority now is to sharpen our message about Indonesia’s future, [a vision] which will later be carried out by Pak Ganjar and his [running mate] Mr. X, who could also be Mrs. X,” PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said on Monday, which analysts believed to refer to Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD and East Java Governor Khofifah.
Read also: New poll schedule revives two-horse scenario
The PDI-P, along with its partners, announced on Wednesday the completion of the formation of Ganjar’s presidential campaign team, which is chaired by Arsjad Rasjid, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN). They also changed its name from the National Campaign Team to the National Campaign Team-Ganjar for President.
Gerindra has also dismissed suggestions that the party will drop Prabowo’s presidential candidacy to forge a partnership with the PDI-P, insisting that its chairman would run for the country’s top post in February’s election.
“We can’t have two presidential candidates in a single party coalition,” Gerindra deputy chairman Habiburokhman said. “If both [Ganjar and Prabowo] insist on running as presidential candidates, the important thing is that we maintain a conducive situation [in the election] as we both want continuity.”
Prabowo now leads the largest electoral alliance with the backing of four major parties: his own Gerindra Party, the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party, which only recently joined the bloc. The retired Army general is also believed to have gained the support of President Jokowi, who still retains the backing of millions of non-partisan die-hard supporters.
Golkar, which has been leading negotiations with pro-government parties to form a grand alliance over the past year, has also acknowledged that joining forces with the PDI-P seemed unlikely at this time.
“From the beginning, there were [suggestions to form] two [electoral alliances]. But what we see today are parties consolidated into three camps,” Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto said last week.
Read also: Parties scramble to lock coalition deals
Prabowo has yet to name his running mate, but names believed to be in the running include State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, whose family has contributed large amounts to Jokowi’s presidential campaigns, and Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the President’s eldest son.
Speculation about a potential alliance between Ganjar and Prabowo first began to swirl on March 9 when Jokowi invited the two leaders to join him on a visit to rice fields in Central Java. Jokowi reportedly proposed that Ganjar and Prabowo join forces to the PDI-P’s Megawati during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in the same month.
Analyst Pangi Syarwi Chaniago said having Prabowo and Ganjar running on a single ticket would suit Jokowi well because it would be an easy way “to defeat the Anies-Muhaimin pair”.
The alliance between Ganjar and Prabowo, however, will only happen if Anies and Muhaimin show some improvement in their electability, Pangi added.