When President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo gathered during a rice harvest event in Kebumen, Central Java, on March 9, 2023, many speculated that the president endorse the two presidential hopefuls for the 2024 election.
The public has the right to perceive that the 3 politicians’ friendly gesture is an indication that Prabowo might pair with Ganjar to run for the presidency, said Immanuel Ebenezer, chairman of Prabowo Mania 08 supporting group. Both candidates can form a duet as they have a big opportunity to win, he added.
“We cannot ignore [former Jakarta governor] Anies Baswedan as a strong contender and a qualified rival in the 2024 contest,” he told Indonesia Business Post on March 15, 2023.
A survey by Kompas Research and Development released on February 22, 2023, revealed Ganjar topped the list of presidential candidates with 25.3%, followed by Prabowo (18.1%) and Anies (13.1%). The January 25-February 4, 2023, survey involved 1,202 respondents from 38 provinces, detik.com reported.
The opportunity for Prabowo and Ganjar to team up is huge since the defense minister is a close ally to Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), of which Ganjar is a cadre.
“As an ideological leader, Megawati will support a candidate who has the same ideology as her,” Ebenezer said.
The Gerindra Party, of which Prabowo is the chairman, is still looking for a running mate with high electability for the presidential election, according to Prabowo’s brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo. However, he insisted that Prabowo should be the presidential candidate.
Prabowo, who will run for the third time, has a strong track record, network, and experiences. He also received support from many state leaders apart from Jokowi, including former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, and even Anies himself.
“Why don’t we give him a chance? He can be greater than all of them,” Ebenezer said, adding that Ganjar could serve as vice presidential candidate for Prabowo.
Pass the baton
Prabowo could groom Ganjar, if they both teamed up and won the election, for the next presidential tenure, Ebenezer suggested. Indonesia will face tough challenges in post-Jokowi presidency such as the global economic crisis and unfinished infrastructure projects especially the new capital Nusantara.
“We need a tough guy [to lead this country]. We see that Prabowo has the toughness to lead the nation and face future problems,” he said.
Jokowi’s endorsement of the Prabowo-Ganjar pair will help boost support for them because based on a survey, Jokowi has 7% of die-hard supporters from 204 million voters.
“Not to mention the silent majority and other groups,” Ebenezer said.
However, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for Prabowo and Ganjar to team up since their respective party wants to nominate their own cadres in the presidential election, said political analyst from Pelita Harapan University Emrus Sihombing.
“It is impossible to unite them because both [parties] want [their cadres] to be a presidential candidate,” he added.
Sihombing saw Jokowi’s gesture as not endorsing Prabowo and Ganjar as a pair. It is not realistic because as a president, Jokowi should not endorse a certain candidate for next year’s presidential polls.