Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Prabowo lures Khofifah to be his running mate for 2024 presidential bid

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Gusty da Costa





Gerindra Party presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto is luring East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa to team up with him for the 2024 General Elections, a source within the party said. Prabowo desperately needs a vice presidential candidate who can help him win supports from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia. NU has a total of 95 million members, 24.5 million of them live in East Java.

“Prabowo has met with Khofifah several times. However, he said, the problem is that Surya Paloh [Nasdem Party chairman] is also eying Khofifah as Anies Baswedan’s running mate,” the source told Indonesia Business Post on January 17, 2023. Nasdem has publicly endorsed former Jakarta governor Anies for the 2024 polls.

The General Elections Commissions (KPU) has set the date of February 14, 2024, for the simultaneous legislative and presidential elections. Data from the Home Ministers stated that around 204.6 million potential voters would cast their votes to elect members of the House of Representatives (DPR), the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and the president and vice president.

Khofifah is relatively acceptable candidate

Political Analyst from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) Firman Noor said it was reasonable for Prabowo to seek supports from the country’s largest Islamic group following his shattered alliance with hardline groups such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) that had supported him in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

“Islamic groups always have a significant role in Indonesian politics, so he needs to seek figures to replace the previous Islamic group,” he explained.

Read also: Prabowo Subianto ready to run for 2024 election after three failures

Noor explained that Prabowo has considered Khofifah, who is a former chairwoman of NU women’s wing Muslimat NU, as other coalitions also tried to approach her. Khofifah, he added, represented many factors including the NU, women and political base in a big province which has a significant number of voters.

“Unlike [National Awakening Party (PKB) Chairman] Muhaimin Iskandar, Khofifah does not have any problems with the structure and the culture of NU,” he said.

Noor emphasized Muhaimin’s open conflict with the NU, especially with followers of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid who was a leading NU figure. On the other hand, he said, Khofifah was widely accepted by NU members.

“This is an interesting and challenging move by Prabowo that will force other political party coalitions to gather and reconsider his strategic move,” he added.

The ball is now on Khofifah’s hand whether she accepts Prabowo’s proposal or not. Even though Khofifah is not a favorite candidate for the vice president position, based on the surveys by pollsters, she holds a strategic position to secure votes from NU members especially in East Java and part of Central Java.

Prabowo needs NU’s support

However, political analyst from the Pelita Harapan University Emrus Sihombing has a different opinion. He said that although Khofifah was a senior member and former official of NU, it did not automatically make NU members to vote for her in the 2024 elections.

Read also: Polarization, identity politics continue to threaten democracy in 2024 general elections

Sihombing explained there were two reasons:

Firstly, NU is a religious organization that is not involved in politics to support a certain candidate in the elections. “NU has reiterated that as a religious organization, they do not take side with certain political force in the context of the General Elections,” he said. It is impossible for NU to mobilize public supports for a certain candidate. If there were NU members getting involved in politics, they could participate based on their individual rights as Indonesia citizens.

Secondly, NU figures exist in many political parties. Beside Khofifah, there are many NU charismatic leaders who have real supports from the grassroots in other parties. “Whether they become a leader of a campaign team like [Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs] Mahfud MD, who joined Prabowo’s campaign team in the 2014 election, there will an interesting game and competition to secure votes from NU,” Sihombing concluded.

Gusty da Costa






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