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'Let them ridicule us, be happy': Ganjar tells supporters

Jakarta Globe - May 27, 2023

Yustinus Paat, Semarang – Presidential nominee Ganjar Pranowo on Saturday urged his supporters to always employ graceful and elegant manners when campaigning for him and stay away from racial and sectarian issues that could fuel divisiveness in the nation.

During a rally at an open square in the Central Java capital of Semarang attended by thousands of supporters, Ganjar implied that his opponents might exploit the opposite strategy but his supporters shouldn't respond with discontent.

"Try to be polite and avoid SARA because we are a plural nation," Ganjar said, using the Indonesian acronym for ethnicity, religion, race, and inter-group relations.

"If they ridicule or use sarcasm against us, let them do that. We embrace democracy with happiness," the Central Java governor said.

Indonesia has gone through sharply divisive elections in recent years.

In the 2014 presidential election, eventual winner Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was portrayed as a Christian candidate of Chinese descent and thousands of copies of a print tabloid attacking his personal life was distributed for free in Muslim boarding schools across the country.

Before and during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, tens of thousands of Muslims staged rallies demanding the resignation of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok, a Chinese Christian who was facing blasphemy charges.

Ahok was eventually defeated by Anies Baswedan, who is currently a potential rival for Ganjar for the 2024 presidential election.

But Anies on several occasions has urged his supporters to refrain from using sectarian issues in the campaign.

Poll leader Ganjar is so far the only firm candidate with a ticket for the election because the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) that nominated him has enough seats in the House of Representatives to reach the threshold.

Anies was picked as a candidate by the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) which is currently trying to establish a coalition with other parties to get him on the ballot.

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is also aiming to run for president for the third time and his Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) needs support from only one more party to meet the 20 percent threshold of House seats.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/let-them-ridicule-us-be-happy-ganjar-tells-supporter