Tenggara Strategics, Jakarta – Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono has been persistent in his efforts to secure a place as Anies Baswedan's running mate in the 2024 presidential election. With the party's electability on the rise amid intense coalition talks, Agus has redoubled efforts recently by seeking the blessing of NasDem Party chairman Surya Paloh.
The two met on Oct. 26, marking Agus' fourth time meeting one on one with Surya since March 29. The second encounter was on June 5, with former president and Democratic Party chief patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also in attendance. The third took place on June 22.
According to Surya, the two discussed their potential coalition with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and synchronized their parties' perspectives with one another. However, the issue of Anies' running mate was also raised. Many have floated Agus as the most likely potential candidate for Anies' running mate, but Surya has remained vague by stating that as a parent, he will endorse anybody he considers a good person.
Following the meeting, Agus and Surya also revealed that the declaration of alliance between NasDem, the Democratic Party and PKS was only a matter of time. NasDem had previously announced plans to declare the coalition on Nov. 10, but both the Democratic Party and PKS have yet to okay the date. The PKS insists that the mechanism for the coalition's declaration must first be presented to the party's majelis syuro (sharia council), whereas the Democratic Party says internal discussions regarding the matter are still underway.
Furthermore, the Democratic Party believes the coalition's declaration this coming week will only materialize as long as the three parties have settled the issue of the vice presidential candidate. If not, according to Democratic Party elections division (Bappilu) head Andi Arief, the declaration could be withdrawn.
"As long as there's a desire to be rational, the declaration can happen [on Nov. 10]. However, if irrational, the declaration can be pushed back. It's fine. We just have to be patient. This is politics," said Andi.
The Democratic Party's stance on the coalition has reflected its full support for Agus. Behind his serial meetings with Surya is a party that has vowed to ensure the chairman's bid for the second-highest office. According to Herzaky Mahendra Putra, head of the Democratic Party's strategic communications body, the party will fight it out to help Agus win his quest to run in the 2024 presidential race.
"We have gathered aspirations from our cadres. The party's national leadership meeting also recommended that Agus participate in the contest [for vice president]," said Herzaky.
A recent survey by Kompas' research and development arm has positioned the Democratic Party as a high-level political party alongside the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Gerindra Party and Golkar Party. The party's electability had increased to 14 percent, surpassing Golkar, which controls the second-largest number of seats in the House of Representatives. At 7.9 percent, Golkar places fourth overall behind PDI-P at 21.1 percent, Gerindra at 16.2 percent, and the Democratic Party.
Aside from political parties, the survey also presented the electability of individuals included in the vice presidential roster for the 2024 presidential election. According to the survey, Agus ranks fifth with an electability rate of 6.5 percent, behind the likes of Ridwan Kamil, Sandiaga Uno, Anies and Ganjar Pranowo.
For the Democratic Party, the survey has propelled the party's confidence in pushing Agus as Anies' running mate, contending that Agus' figure as the party's chairman correlates with his and the party's increasing electability.
"Agus has not officially become a vice presidential candidate, but the upward trend in the Democratic Party's electability is in line with Agus' electability trend. This indicates that there is a direct connection between Agus and the Democratic Party," said Irwan Secho, deputy secretary general of the Democratic Party.
As a result, the party believes that Agus' electability can help the coalition win the 2024 presidential election.
What we've heard
Late last month, a number of high-ranking officials from NasDem, the Democratic Party, and PKS gathered at Anies' house in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta.
A source who attended the meeting said that representatives from the Democratic Party made efforts to convince their two potential coalition partners to endorse Agus as Anies' running mate. "We want this nomination to give an impact on the party," said a senior Democratic Party member.
During the meeting, it was also agreed upon that the decision on the vice president would rest with Anies and would be decided before the deadline of registration of candidates with the General Elections Commission.
Additionally, the Democratic Party asked NasDem and PKS to not rush in shutting Agus' chance as a vice presidential candidate. The source said the Democratic Party did not insist on submitting Agus as a vice presidential candidate, however, they have hopes that the decision-making process is objective. "If the calculation indicates a win with another candidate, why should we push Agus?" said the source.
Previously, efforts to secure Agus' position as a vice presidential candidate were also made through his father, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. During the meeting, Surya conveyed to Susilo that Agus had potential as a future leader. However, according to the source, Surya said that time had not come yet for Agus to compete for the highest office in the 2024. Upon hearing Surya's statement, the source said that SBY asked Surya not to shut the door for Agus' bid to contest the election just yet.