Ridwan emerges as strong VP candidate for Ganjar

The possibility of Ridwan joining Ganjar on the ticket, Hasto noted, had been discussed last week in a closed-door meeting between PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri and leaders of supporting parties.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil (right) has officially joined the Golkar Party, paving the way for a possible run in the 2024 elections. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

September 11, 2023

JAKARTA – Ridwan Kamil, former West Java governor and a new member of the country’s second-largest party, has gained traction as one of the key contenders being eyed to run alongside Ganjar Pranowo as vice-presidential candidate, despite his party Golkar forming an alliance with rival Prabowo Subianto.

Social-media savvy Ridwan, 51, affectionately known as Kang Emil, has emerged as one of the top candidates under consideration of party leaders in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-led bloc to become Ganjar’s running mate, PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said.

The possibility of Ridwan joining Ganjar on the ticket, Hasto noted, had been discussed last week in a closed-door meeting between PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri and leaders of supporting parties, the Muslim-based National Development Party’s (PPP) Mardiono; Hanura’s Oesman Sapta Odang; and media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo of Perindo.

Aside from Ridwan, other top candidates discussed during last week’s meeting, Hasto said, included Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, 66, and Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, 54.

“Names of figures who are perceived positively by the people certainly will be studied extensively by the PDI-P,” Hasto said, adding that the party would scrutinize their track records and weigh “their leadership character and ability to work together” with Ganjar.

Ridwan-Megawati meeting

Speculation has been rife that Ridwan stands a serious chance of being tapped as a vice-presidential candidate as he reportedly has forged intense communication with Megawati, who analysts believe has the final say over the choice of Ganjar’s running mate for the upcoming race.

Ridwan has also been involved in a project to erect what would be the country’s tallest statue of Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno, the actual father of Megawati, in West Java, which could also have caught the attention of Megawati.

Read also: Ridwan Kamil joins Golkar, bolstering political standing

Both Ridwan and Megawati met last week at her private residence in Teuku Umar, Central Jakarta, where the two had a one-and-a-half-hour conversation over subjects that were “personal and political in nature”, including Ridwan’s plans after stepping down from the West Java governorship.

PDI-P member Deddy Sitorus, who confirmed that the meeting took place last Tuesday when Ridwan ended his gubernatorial term in West Java, dismissed suggestions that the two had a discussion specifically about Ridwan’s possibility of being Ganjar’s running mate, noting that Ridwan is still “a member of another party”.

“Talking about politics or his views and readiness doesn’t have to be directly [about his running as vice president], right?,” Deddy was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.

Before traveling to Jakarta to visit Megawati last Tuesday, Ridwan threw out hints in his farewell speech at his gubernatorial office that he might have a surprise announcement this week, fueling speculation that a Ganjar-Ridwan pairing would be announced in the coming weeks.

West, not East Java

Ridwan had been on the list of potential VP candidates, but only recently was he seen as a strong candidate. This shift came following the naming of National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar as the running mate of Anies Baswedan, the presumptive presidential candidate from the Coalition for Change and Unity (KPP) electoral alliance.

Anies’ decision to pick Muhaimin reflects the KPP’s attempt to expand its support in East Java, the PKB’s stronghold, where Anies has fared poorly in political surveys.

Read also: Survey shows Ganjar and Prabowo neck-and-neck

Picking Ridwan to pair up with Ganjar would be a “rational” and “strategic” choice, executive director of Trias Politika Strategis Agung Baskoro said, adding that Ridwan’s popularity in West Java could help complement Ganjar’s shortcomings in the province.

“Rather than spending a great amount of energy working on East Java, with the risk of not much of a niche-voter bloc being captured, given the large number of popular figures in the province who are being eyed by his rivals as their running mates, it would be more strategic for Ganjar to concentrate on West Java,”  Agung said, adding that the province had been largely overlooked by Prabowo and Anies.

“The PDI-P has already a relatively strong showing in East Java, where support for the PDI-P is even slightly higher than for the National Awakening Party (PKB) that has held the province as its main stronghold,” he added.

Golkar’s complication

Ridwan running as Ganjar’s vice-presidential candidate, however, would clash with his own party, Golkar, which has joined the five-way electoral alliance backing rival Prabowo and which has proposed its chairman Airlangga Hartarto as Prabowo’s running mate.

Agung Laksono, chairman of Golkar’s advisory council, said Ridwan had discussed the option of running alongside Ganjar with him and believed that he had done so with Airlangga. Calling the potential offer as “an honor for the Golkar Party”, Agung said the party had no reason “to forbid Ridwan” from seizing the opportunity.

Read also: Golkar brushes off PDI-P’s proposal for Ganjar-Ridwan ticket

When asked about the possibility of the party backing Ridwan as Ganjar’s running mate, Airlangga said on Friday, “there has not been talks within the party about the subject” and stressed that the party remained committed to backing Prabowo.

Widely known for his lighthearted online persona, Ridwan has seen his political stock rise in recent months, emerging as the top choice for vice-presidential candidate, according to a recent poll by the research arm of Kompas, garnering 8.4 percent of support, beating Sandiaga with 8.2 percent and State Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, with 8 percent.

Ridwan, an internationally renowned architect with award-winning projects across the globe, first entered politics in 2013 when he ran as an independent for mayor of his native city of Bandung and went on to become the governor of the country’s most populous province, West Java. He joined Golkar in January this year. (ahw)

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