Jakarta – Presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo has faced backlash after attacking President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's law enforcement performance, with critics pointing to the fact that he and his running mate Mahfud MD, a senior minister, are part of the incumbent's administration.
Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto has challenged a statement by Ganjar contending that law enforcement under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been lacking.
Airlangga, who is part of the campaign team backing the Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka presidential ticket, said Ganjar's criticism should be directed at his running mate Mahfud, the country's coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister.
"The coordinating security affairs minister should answer this. It falls under his authority," he said on Tuesday when he was asked to respond to Ganjar's criticism.
Airlangga, who is currently serving as coordinating economic minister, claimed that the responsibility for law enforcement was presented in Presidential Regulation No. 73/2020, which outlines the role of the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister.
During a public discussion at Makassar State University in South Sulawesi on Saturday, Ganjar contended that law enforcement in the country had declined to a score of five out of 10 after the Constitutional Court delivered a controversial verdict that enabled the President's son Gibran to run for the vice presidency in 2024.
The former Central Java governor said his rating was based on the bias in the court verdict, which was later shown to be influenced by then-chief justice Anwar Usman, who happened to be Jokowi's brother-in-law.
"Manipulation and intervention [were found in the judicial process]. The impartial [institution] has become partial," he said.
Ahmad Doli Kurnia Tanjung, a member of the Prabowo-Gibran national campaign team, also redirected Ganjar's criticism to Mahfud.
"While we do have a president, governance in this country is a collective responsibility. We have a coordinating security affairs minister who is authorized to address these matters," Ahmad said.
Three presidential and vice presidential candidates are preparing for the official campaign period ahead of the Feb. 14, 2024, election. Besides the Ganjar-Mahfud and Prabowo-Gibran tickets, a coalition of political parties led by the NasDem Party is supporting Anies Baswedan for the presidency and Muhaimin Iskandar for the vice presidency.
With Gibran as his running mate, Prabowo, the current defense minister, has sought to position himself as the candidate who will continue Jokowi's legacy.
But in fact, all the presidential campaign teams include current or former members of Jokowi's administration. The President, considered an exemplar of patronage politics, has reshuffled his cabinet 10 times in his nine years in office and has allowed a number of political parties, including those who opposed him in previous campaigns, to join his administration.
This has caused Ganjar, who is supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the biggest political party in the legislative coalition supporting Jokowi, to struggle to build his campaign against the President.
Anies, a former governor of Jakarta, initially tried to build his image as an ideological alternative to Jokowi by forging an alliance with the opposition Democratic Party. But Anies' main backer, NasDem, chose Muhaimin, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), as his running mate, which caused the connection with the Democrats to fall apart.
NasDem and the PKB are not considered opposition parties, as both have been awarded ministerial seats in Jokowi administration. Since pledging its support for Anies, however, NasDem has lost two ministerial seats, with both party members – former communications minister Johnny Plate and former agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo – implicated in graft cases.
Jazuli Juwaini, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), claimed Ganjar had criticized Jokowi simply because the President did not support him in the election.
Jazuli said that unlike the PKS, which had been consistently in the opposition for Jokowi's two terms as president, Ganjar was driven by personal interests in his criticism of Jokowi, rather than genuine concern.
"[Ganjar] previously praised [the Jokowi administration] before criticizing it now, just because he's not receiving support," Jazuli said.