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Analysis: Ganjar - popular but lacks own party's support

Jakarta Post - October 24, 2022

Tenggara Strategics, Jakarta – Political parties have been racing to announce who they will be backing in the 2024 presidential election. Most recently, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) declared its support for Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo in the election, saying he is the most suitable to carry on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's legacy.

The PSI made its announcement on Oct. 3, shortly after the NasDem Party declared the nomination of then-Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan as its presidential candidate. According to PSI board of trustees chair Grace Natalie, the party made Ganjar its choice due to their aligned visions. Grace also emphasized that Ganjar was chosen by the people through consultations the party had held since February.

PSI chairman Giring Ganesha later suggested that the National Mandate Party (PAN) follow suit during his visit to the PAN headquarters on Oct. 13. Though PAN secretary-general Eddy Soeparno claimed that the meeting did not name any figure, Ganjar is on PAN's list of nine potential presidential candidates. Meanwhile, several PAN regional branches have openly declared their support for Ganjar.

After the meeting with PAN, the PSI also plans to approach the United Development Party (PPP). Having already met with the Golkar Party back in August, it is suggested that the PSI is sending a strong message to the members of the United Indonesia Coalition (KIB), which, coupled with talks that the alliance was initially formed to give Ganjar a political vehicle, might not be so far-fetched.

Despite his high electability rate, Ganjar stands no chance of running for president if his party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), does not endorse him. Though the PDI-P has yet to make up its mind in relation to its presidential choice, many are convinced that the party will award its ticket to chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri's daughter, Puan Maharani.

The initial plan to use the KIB as a political vehicle for Ganjar might just work out considering that the majority of PAN and PPP voters have championed Ganjar from the beginning. An issue that stands, however, is that the Golkar Party has insisted on nominating chairman Airlangga Hartarto, in spite of his consistently low electability ratings.

On a separate note, Ganjar has done little to convey his presidential ambitions, especially since the decision will be left up to the PDI-P. In response to the PSI's announcement, Ganjar said each political party had the right to select its presidential candidate. In addition to his expression of gratitude, Ganjar said he would prioritize his duties as Central Java governor.

What's more

Sino Nusantara Institute political activist Didik T. Atmaja pointed out that Ganjar's electability ratings have been steadily increasing since late last year, compared with those of Anies and Prabowo Subianto. The three have consistently emerged as top contenders for the country's highest office in opinion polls.

December 202128.2%23.8%19.6%
April 202229.2%23.0%20.2%
June 202231.2%23.4%20.0%
September 202231.3%24.2%20.6%

But the PDI-P's silence on who it will be nominating has puzzled many, especially when other political parties are hastily making their moves. On the one hand, the PDI-P might wait until the last minute to announce its choice of candidate as a tactic. On the other, perhaps the ruling party is looking to increase its party's overall electability by showing the public that it is still focused on completing government duties until 2024.

Airlangga also recently claimed that the KIB would only announce its presidential and vice-presidential candidate pair in September 2023, about a month before the registration opens.

Esa Unggul University political communication observer M. Jamiluddin Ritonga suggested that the KIB will wait and see if the PDI-P officially decides to nominate Ganjar or not before making a final decision. This move, however, also comes with its own risks. The longer the KIB takes to announce its presidential candidate, the shorter its time to familiarize the electorate with the candidate.

Parameter Politik Indonesia executive director added that the best option was to pair Airlangga with Ganjar. After all, the PDI-P and Golkar secured the most votes in the 2019 general elections; the PDI-P securing 19.33 percent of the vote and Golkar 12.31 percent.

What we've heard

A politician claims that President Jokowi is still looking for a political vehicle for Ganjar through other parties. Thus far, the one that is still available is the KIB. "It is now up to Ganjar to decide whether he wants to use it or not," said the source.

An internal source from the PDI-P added that Ganjar's future in the upcoming 2024 presidential election was also discussed during Jokowi and Megawati's meeting in the Batu Tulis Palace in Bogor on 8 Oct. During the meeting, the source said "the President proposed Ganjar be nominated as a presidential candidate by the PDI-P to Ibu Mega."

To Megawati, Jokowi argued that Ganjar could compete against Anies who is backed by the NasDem Party. In response, however, the source said Megawati maintained that Puan will be nominated as a presidential candidate. During the meeting, the two also discussed what the election would look like without Anies and Ganjar partaking. "It is seen as a win-win situation for various parties," said the source.

Ganjar still had a chance with the NasDem Party before it announced its support for Anies. According to an executive of NasDem, chairman Surya Paloh mentioned on several occasions this year that Anies should be paired with Ganjar to prevent polarization. When Surya proposed the idea, Jokowi only nodded. "According to several people at the State Palace, Jokowi does not want Anies to run [as president] even when paired with Ganjar," said the source.

Another NasDem source pointed out that after the party shortlisted the three names, including Ganjar, as a presidential candidate, Ganjar then uploaded a photo of him and President Jokowi on his Instagram account. NasDem politicians interpreted the post as Ganjar's way of saying that he will continue to seek support through Jokowi. "From there, we took it as a sign of rejection," said the source.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/10/24/analysis-ganjar-popular-but-lacks-own-partys-support.htm