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The race for the 2024 presidential election has begun

The race for the 2024 presidential election has begun


Indonesia’s next presidential election may not take place until February 2024, but the race is already heating up. With a population of 270 million, Indonesian presidential elections are in some ways similar to those in the United States, with massive rallies and huge amounts of money being spent. Yet while American politics is marked by polarization, ideological alignments in Indonesia are often less clear. And since 2014, one man has dominated Indonesian politics: President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi.

Indonesia’s next presidential election may not take place until February 2024, but the race is already heating up. With a population of 270 million, Indonesian presidential elections are in some ways similar to those in the United States, with massive rallies and huge amounts of money being spent. Yet while American politics is marked by polarization, ideological alignments in Indonesia are often less clear. And since 2014, one man has dominated Indonesian politics: President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi.

Raised in a slum, Jokowi became a successful businessman before entering politics. his rise from city mayor to president seemed to herald a new era in Indonesia. But Jokowi rose through the ranks in part by shrewdly co-opting established political interests. His ruling coalition now comprises seven parties and controls 81% of parliamentary seats. Indonesian presidents can only serve two terms, and a post-Jokowi era is now looming. Suggestions that the ruler might seek to extend his rule have now faded, leaving some possibilities open for Indonesia.

It’s still early to predict what might happen in the 2024 election, but history shows the campaign could be light on content. Indonesian elections contain almost no politics. It is about which groups of oligarchs and party leaders will support whom. And then it’s kind of an extended popularity contest, said Ben Bland, Asia-Pacific program director at Chatham House.

This trend looks set to continue, with parties already publicly pricing candidates weighing their electoral prospects and the price they might pay for support. Despite the lack of clear political divisions, the personalities of the leaders and the interest groups that align themselves with them matter. From this point of view, the three main candidates present three distinct paths for Indonesia: the continuity of a flawed but democratic political policy, a reactive authoritarianism that dates back to the era of dictator Suharto, or a decision to embrace a growing religious radicalism.

Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Central Java province, represents the first of this set of choices and is widely seen as the candidate to beat. Until recently he conducted the pollsand he draws comparisons with Jokowi for his relatively humble origins. Ganjar is the son of a policeman, and his nomination by the Jokowis party, the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (PDI-P), seems to confirm the rise of a generation of politicians who have taken public office after the democratization of Indonesia in 1998 and have no ties to elite families or the military.

Unlike Jokowi, Ganjar was involved in anti-dictatorship activism against the Suhartos regime in the 1990s, joining the opposition party that would become the PDI-P. Ganjar entered parliament in 2004 and rose through the political ranks. His emergence as a presidential favorite owes much to his social media savvy and Jokowi’s tacit support. (Indonesian presidents traditionally do not endorse their successors outright, and it should be noted that Jokowi is not the leader of the PDI-P party.)

At 71, Ganjar’s most prominent opponent, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, embodies the older Indonesian political generation. He is a former lieutenant general and the former son-in-law of Suhartoonce considered the dictator’s heir apparent. He is accused of having participated in massacres during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor and to have been involved in disappearances of Indonesian pro-democracy activists during his military service.

Despite a period of exilethese accusations did not prevent Prabowo from running for president in 2014 and 2019, or becoming defense minister when Jokowi decided to compromise with him after the 2019 vote. , Prabowo hinted that he was unhappy with the path of the current political arrangements in Indonesia, suggesting that the so-called Western-style democracy might not be suitable for Indonesia and floating reforms this would put an end to the direct election of the president and local elected officials.

The third candidate in the lead, Anies Baswedan, is a former governor of Jakarta linked to the radical Islamist movement in Indonesia. These links are causing concern among Indonesia’s religious minorities, who 13 percent of the population, as well as many moderate Muslims. During his 2017 gubernatorial campaign, Anies abandoned his own moderate reputation as a Fulbright scholar at home in cosmopolitan circles to ally himself with hardline Islamist forces who accused the incumbent governor, a Christian, of of blasphemy. The governor, Basuki Purnama, also known as Ahok, was later sentenced to two years in prison for the charges.

The display of religious and ethnic chauvinism shocked many Indonesians, and Anies has since sought to rehabilitate her image with gestures of interfaith tolerance. As a politician with national ambitions, he seems wary of the outright alienation of religious minorities. However, Anies has maintained links with the leader of the Islamic Hardliners Front, which was at the heart of the anti-Ahok movement, and Indonesia’s largest Islamist party became a key backer of his presidential bid. If Anies wins the presidency, it could further strengthen conservative social forces that have contributed to the recent passage of troubling laws such as a fictitious ban on extramarital sex.

However, things are rarely settled in Indonesian politics. Although Jokowi remains a huge popular character, reformers hope his victory in 2014 would represent a break with the old way of doing Indonesian politics. After all, the law prohibiting extramarital sex was passed on his watch, along with others weakening Indonesia’s national anti-corruption commission and undermining labor and environmental protections.

This negotiation makes certain observers wary vis-à-vis the reform forecasts. In 2014 and especially in 2019, it really seemed like there was everything to play for, Bland said. But, after the elections, we found ourselves with the kind of grand coalitions and agreements that are as usual in Indonesia.

If elected, Ganjar is expected to inherit many of the deals Jokowi made, including within the party. The PDI-P is the only party large enough to nominate a presidential candidate without entering into a coalition. As was the case with Jokowi, Ganjar’s rise depended on his successful political courtship with former Megawati chairman Sukarnoputria, chairman of the PDI-P since 1999, and perhaps Indonesia’s most important political insider (thus as the daughter of Sukarno, the country’s first president). ). Megawati still runs the party as a personal fiefdom. In seeking his support, Ganjar had to make elaborate displays of deference; when PDI-P announced his appointment to the press, Megawati placed an official bake bonnet on her head, bowing to her.

Operating in the Megawatis system can lead to other troublesome contortions. Ganjar, apparently in command of the party presidents, has recently become one of the few high-profile political figures to oppose the hosting of Israel’s national under-20 football team in Indonesia for the this year’s U-20 World Cup, citing the example of Sukarnos’ position on Palestine. The controversy led FIFA to drop Indonesia as hosts at the last minute. In football-crazed Indonesia, it also dealt a blow to Ganjars’ popularity.

Local media are now speculate that Ganjar could also inherit Jokowi’s alliance with Prabowo. An early key supporter of Jokowi’s political career, Prabowo became his political enemy, clashing in two hard-fought presidential elections. His refusal to acknowledge Jokowis’ 2019 victory resembling that of then US President Donald Trump a year later sparked violence protests in Jakarta. In a move that may have surprised those unfamiliar with Indonesian politics, Jokowi’s method of defusing the crisis was to offer Prabowo the post of minister. In the years since, they seem to have built a solid relationship, and Jokowi is now trying to play matchmaker for Ganjar and Prabowo.

Jokowi recently organized a meeting of key party leaders in his coalition which has been widely interpreted as an attempt to persuade Prabowo and other power brokers to support a Ganjar-Prabowo alliance. Such a pairing would likely appeal to many voters, which is no doubt part of Jokowis’ calculations. Playing a key role in forming the winning coalition would help him cement his legacy. Jokowi may also wish to remove Anies from power; according to insiders, Jokowi harbors a personal dislike for Anies due to the pivotal role he played in the downfall of Ahok, whom Jokowi considered a friend.

But playing second fiddle can be tough for a man of Prabowos’ jumping ambition. Despite being second to Ganjar, he has taken the lead in at least one recent poll following the U-20 World Cup imbroglio. Whether Prabowo would be ready to ally with his current rival remains an open question, and he hinted that he any direction. Observers can certainly expect plenty of twists and turns before Indonesia’s General Election Commission begins officially registering candidacies between October 19 and November 25.

Given the circumstances, Prabowo might be tempted to roll the dice one last time. Under Indonesian electoral laws, presidential candidates must win more than 50% of the votes cast to win. Prabowo currently has a good chance of qualifying for a second round. In a Ganjar race against Prabowo, the latter could take advantage of his past alliances with Anies. In the absence of Prabowos, Ganjar and Anies would fight for his support in the second round. And a run-off Anies-Prabowo contest cannot be ruled out, which would be greeted by reformists with deep apprehension.




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