Tenggara Strategics (The Jakarta Post)
Mon, December 26, 2022
Former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan will win in West Java, Banten and Jakarta; Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo will win in Central and East Java; and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto will come second or third in all these five provinces on the island of Java. That is the prediction from the latest public-opinion survey by Polltracking of the likely outcome in the 2024 presidential race if it comes to a three-horse race.
With Java making up 56 percent of Indonesia’s 270 million population, and 58 percent of the voters in 2024, winning in the densely populated island is key for any presidential hopefuls. The outer islands may be important, but as far as the election campaign goes, they are peripheral.
The first-past-the post mechanism means that once a candidate polls more than 50 percent of the vote nationwide, they will be declared the winner. The stipulation that a candidate must win at least 20 percent in each province in at least more than half of the 38 provinces in Indonesia has never been a problem in past elections, and will not likely be in 2024. Winning as many votes as possible in Java will still be the key to winning the election.
There is still no guarantee however that Anies, Ganjar and Prabowo will be competing in the 2024 presidential election. Neither is assured of a ticket to run. They are the three public figures that all surveyors, working independently of one another, found to be the most popular. But only political parties have the sole power to nominate presidential candidates, and they will not necessarily be dictated by the surveys.
Anies has already been picked as candidate for the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) while Prabowo has already been named as candidate for Gerindra, the party which he founded and chairs. But he neither has met the criteria of holding at least 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives to be able to run. They need to secure the support of other parties to meet the threshold, and for now, both are still touch-and-go.
Ganjar would automatically quality if he got the endorsement of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), the only party that meets the threshold. But PDIP chair Megawati Soekarnoputri has refrained from naming her choice of her. She wants her daughter de ella Puan Maharani, who is the house speaker, to run, but with the low electability as rated by all surveys, Megawati is delaying her decision. Megawati was Indonesia’s president in 2000-2004 and her father Sukarno was Indonesia’s founding president in 1945-1966.
A look at the 2019 presidential election results could be instructive in understanding the voting patterns in Java. In 2019, incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo won 55 percent of the votes while challenger Prabowo polled 45 percent. Jokowi won the most votes in 21 provinces, including in Central Java, East Java and Jakarta, while Prabowo prevailed in 13 provinces, including in West Java and Banten.
While both are nationalists, Jokowi represents the center-left of the spectrum of voters while Prabowo represents the center-right, which includes the Islamic conservatives, a considerable voting block but not enough to deliver Prabowo.
A similar picture is emerging in the runup to 2024, according to Polltracking. In a three-horse race, Anies is leading in West Java and Banten, while Ganjar is leading in Central Java and East Java. Anies however is dominant in Jakarta, a territory which he governed for five years until October. Prabowo comes either second or third in these five provinces as the bulk of the Muslim conservatives who voted for him in 2019 are switching to Anies.
Ganjar’s lead in East Java however is small enough that it could still go either way in 2024, either to Anies or even to Prabowo. The home base of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Islamic mass organization, how they vote could be the most decisive in the race outcome. NU-run boarding schools in East Java make up for a huge voting bloc. Pupils and alumni of these schools will follow orders from the charismatic principals on whom to give their votes to.
NU and the Nation Awakening Party (PKB), which it founded to accommodate NU voters, are holding their cards close to their chests. The trouble is that they have parted ways and are seen more as competition for power and influence, and presidential candidates are working to win them over by 2024.
NU and PKB are playing hard-to-get, not making any commitment to any candidate but talking to everyone. To win their support, Anies’ camp is considering offering the running-mate slot to Kofifah Indar Parawansa, the East Java governor and an influential NU female figure, while Prabowo is under pressure to pick PKB chair Muhaimin Iskandar to meet the presidential threshold.
No one knows Megawati’s plan, but if Ganjar gets the ticket, he and PDIP will surely have to work hard at winning East Java, and start talking to NU and PKB.
All of these predictions are based on the assumption that all three will get their presidential tickets. There is the possibility of a fourth contestant but that person is unlikely to affect the predictions very much.
As the election rules require a run-off in the event that no candidate wins a majority vote, then based on this scenario, the second round will see Anies facing off Ganjar. An earlier survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) predicted that those who vote for Prabowo will most likely vote for Anies in the runoff.
What we’ve heard
People close to Anies said that the former Jakarta governor realized that he trails Ganjar in Central Java and East Java. During a small team discussion, the source revealed that Anies was advised to forget about Central Java, which is known as PDI-P’s traditional stronghold. “What can be done in Central Java is to reduce the margin of defeat, but you can’t turn things around,” said the source.
They added that Anies stands a chance to excel in East Java by, among other strategies, maximizing the political machinery of the Democratic Party. People in Anies’ circle said they had devised a plan so that Democrats chief patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is from Pacitan, East Java, would come down and help Anies win in East Java.
The source explained that the difference in Anies’ margin of defeat, especially in Central Java, would be compensated for by winning provinces outside of Java. “He still relies on roadshows to campaign in the regions,” they said. Previously, Anies visited Aceh, Riau and South Sulawesi.
As for Ganjar, there is not much he could do to catch up with Anies in West Java. In the two gubernatorial and presidential elections, candidates from PDI-P failed in this province. People close to Ganjar said that the Central Java governor was still held hostage by PDI-P top brass who asked him not to go on safari outside of Central Java.
The source continued that President Joko Widodo had asked Ganjar to be more agile in his maneuvers. For example, using the flag of the Gadjah Mada Alumni Family, an alumni group whose prime movers include the President’s inner circle like State Secretary Pratikno and his de él aide de él Ari Dwipayana. President Jokowi himself has refrained from officially endorsing Ganjar because the PDI-P has no plan to declare its nomination of Ganjar anytime soon.
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