Prabowo surges in poll, overtakes Ganjar

Prabowo’s rising popularity has come amid intensifying talks of a potential grand coalition for the 2024 presidential election among pro-government parties.

Dio Suhenda

Dio Suhenda

The Jakarta Post


Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto (right, foreground) walks with National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan (left, foreground) on April 8, 2023 before a meeting at Prabowo's private residence on Jl. Kertanegara in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. Zulkifli’s visit aimed to strengthen the bond between the two political parties and to explore the possibility of forming an alliance to contest the 2024 general election. (Antara/M. Risyal Hidayat)

April 11, 2023

JAKARTA – Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto is now the man to beat in the 2024 presidential election, overtaking Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo as the most popular candidate among voters in the latest election survey.

Prabowo, who lost to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the last two presidential elections, appears to have made a substantial electoral gain following a series of high-profile meetings with other political elites, including Jokowi, who has reportedly tapped him as one of his potential successors that would protect his legacies.

An Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) survey released on Sunday has found that Prabowo is now the most popular candidate for the nation’s top job in a three-horse race simulation against Ganjar and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan.

His electability rate grew by 3.6 percentage point from 26.7 percent in February to 30.3 percent in March, while Ganjar’s nosedived from 35 to 26.9 percent. Anies now trails Ganjar, with his popularity slightly rising from 24 to 25.3 percent.

While Ganjar was still the man to beat should the presidential election be contested now among 19 popular candidates, Prabowo and Anies had both managed to cut Ganjar’s lead down to just 0.5 and 1.4 percentage points respectively – both within the survey’s 2.5 percentage point margin of error.

LSI executive director Djayadi Hanan said during the survey’s launch on Sunday that the results indicated that Prabowo had begun to take over some of Ganjar’s own loyalists. “Put it simply, [those who supported Ganjar] have now been split, some are undecided, others are now supporting Prabowo while a small minority has gone on to support Anies. This shows that [Ganjar’s supporters] had begun to shift to Prabowo, although not entirely,” Djayadi said.

This can also be seen in Prabowo’s rising popularity in East Java, where Ganjar had previously been the most popular presidential candidate, Djayadi said.

A tale of two pro-Jokowi candidates

Prabowo’s rising popularity has come amid intensifying talks of a potential grand coalition for the 2024 presidential election among pro-government parties, with Prabowo being one of the key figures and the strongest presidential candidates in the coalition talks.

Read also: Prabowo gains traction as pro-govt parties seek middle way

Should it come to fruition, the alliance would comprise five major pro-government parties: Gerindra, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Golkar party, the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Several pro-government nonparliamentary parties, including the United Indonesia Party (Perindo) and the Crescent Moon Party (PBB), also met with the former general last week to express their interest in joining the grand coalition.

Meanwhile, Ganjar, whose Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) remains noncommittal on the grand coalition, has in recent weeks been made into a pariah by Indonesian soccer fans, many of whom blamed him for the cancelation of the Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia.

Ganjar, along with fellow PDI-P politician Wayan Koster, had earlier demanded that FIFA bar Israel from participating in the youth tournament as a solidarity act against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The fiasco has taken a toll on Ganjar’s popularity, the LSI says.

From foe to ally

Hailing from the same party and sharing an electoral stronghold in Central Java, Ganjar had long been touted to be Jokowi’s preferred successor, with Jokowi himself telling thousands of his supporters last year to vote for a “white-haired” politician.

But, with Ganjar’s chances to a presidential ticket seemingly now hanging in the balance, Jokowi had in recent months begun talking up Prabowo’s chances at the polls, saying in November that 2024 would be “Prabowo’s turn” as president, and having invited his former rival on multiple public outings in recent weeks.

Read also: U-20 fiasco sees Ganjar taking big electability hit: Pollster

According to political analyst Burhanudin Muhtadi of Indikator Politik Indonesia, Jokowi’s public endorsement for Prabowo compared with his veiled praises for Ganjar has convinced the President’s own loyalists to begin shifting their support to Prabowo. “Jokowi’s supporters are no longer dominated by Ganjar, since his initial appeal was the exclusive endorsement he received from the President,” Burhanudin said on Sunday.

A Jokowi-supporter group known as Jokowi Mania (JoMan) declared in February that it would instead support Prabowo in the 2024 elections, after previously endorsing Ganjar.

Aside from wrestling Jokowi’s loyalists away from Ganjar, Burhanudin said that Prabowo’s boost in electability was also thanks to disgruntled soccer fans making Ganjar a scapegoat for the U-20 fiasco.

“[Based on LSI’s survey,] it seems that soccer fans have made Ganjar and the PDI-P as scapegoats, not Jokowi or even [PSSI chief] Erick [Thohir],” Burhanudin said, referring to the fact that Jokowi’s approval rating in the most recent LSI survey has instead hit an all-time high. (ahw)

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