August 30, 2023
JAKARTA – Presumptive presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has renamed his augmented electoral alliance after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s cabinet and has asserted it represents “team Jokowi”, as he seeks to portray himself as the popular president’s rightful successor.
Speaking at the National Mandate Party’s (PAN) 25th anniversary event on Monday, Prabowo officially rebranded his five-way electoral alliance the “Onward Indonesia Coalition”, a name he borrowed from Jokowi’s Onward Indonesia Cabinet.
“I wholeheartedly want to continue the struggle [of Jokowi], and along with our team, we had a discussion with party leaders, even if only briefly. We agreed. We named it the Onward Indonesia Coalition,” Prabowo said.
Prabowo’s alliance for the 2024 election was first known as the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition, when it consisted only of his own party Gerindra and the Islam-based National Awakening Party (PKB). But recently, three other pro-government parties – the Golkar Party, PAN and the Islam-based Crescent and Star Party (PBB) – have joined the camp.
Proclaiming that the newly formed five-way alliance consisted of staunch Jokowi supporters, Prabowo pledged to continue the President’s policies, including his “Jokowinomics” and his efforts to develop downstream minerals industries.
“We are not shy [to say] we are team Jokowi,” Prabowo said.
“We have put together a team with figures from the parties [that support him]. We have discussed and looked at the strong foundation that Jokowi has put in place, which I call ‘Jokowinomics’,” Prabowo added, referring to the President’s economic policies.
“Abroad, they are confused about how we were able to address our problems through the distribution of [social assistance] cards. How could such a simple card offer social or health assistance to tens of millions of people?” he said. “[…] There were, of course, many weaknesses, but development will not take just one or two years.”
Prabowo was referring to a group of social assistance programs in which a card designates the possessor’s eligibility for benefits, ranging from health services to education. The Jokowi administration launched the program in 2014 in an effort to bring the poverty rate down.
Jokowi, who was absent from the Monday event, said in a pre-recorded speech that the country needed to have “the best team that shares the same vision and is able to work together” to face future challenges amid geopolitical tensions and economic and climate crises.
“We cannot work alone. We need a strong and solid team to realize our dreams and goals. I am sure PAN is capable,” the President said.
The efforts of Prabowo and his camp to brand the former general as a continuation of Jokowi could be a challenge for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), to which Jokowi belongs. The PDI-P played a major role in making Jokowi a two-term president and is now backing Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
The latest polls show Ganjar locked in a tight battle with Prabowo, who is seeking the nation’s highest office for a third time. Former Jakarta governor and opposition figure Anies Baswedan is in third place.
PDI-P executive Said Abdullah told reporters on Tuesday that Ganjar had been using the phrase “Onward Indonesia” since early August during his unofficial campaign across Java but claimed that the party was unbothered by Prabowo’s use of the phrase.
He said the PDI-P concurred that the country needed to move forward to tap into the benefits of the demographic dividend and called for every candidate to offer proposals to achieve that goal.
“So let us compete over whose visions and programs are more down-to-earth and who can execute them,” he added.
Analyst Agung Baskoro said the rebranding of Prabowo’s camp indicated that Jokowi had given the nod for Prabowo to press ahead with the alliance.
“The cabinet ministers who also chair Gerindra, PAN and Golkar have always looked up to Jokowi as their mentor, if not a kingmaker, because of his proven record of always winning electoral battles at the municipal, provincial and national levels,” Agung added.
But the selection of Prabowo’s running mate remains a challenge as the alliance’s constituent parties rally behind their own distinct candidates.
Golkar and the PKB are pushing for their respective chairs, Airlangga Hartarto and Muhaimin Iskandar, to run alongside Prabowo, while PAN has put forth State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir, whose family was a major donor to both of Jokowi’s presidential campaigns.
“Parties are trying to seize the vice presidential slot to gain the coattail effect to increase their standing,” Agung said.