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Ex-presidential candidate Anies gets boost for Jakarta polls from Indonesia's largest party

Straits Times - June 16, 2024

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta – Former presidential candidate Anies Baswedan has secured the backing of leaders from Indonesia's largest party in Parliament, sources say, in a major boost for his chances at the local government elections in November.

According to party insiders, the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has proposed the fielding of Mr Anies, who is not affiliated to any party, as the candidate for Jakarta governor in the election on Nov 27.

It has also put forward its newly recruited cadre, former armed forces general Andika Perkasa, 59, as a potential running mate for Mr Anies, 55. Meanwhile, the party's executive committee has suggested MP Adisatrya Suryo Sulisto, 50, as Mr Anies' running mate, insiders told The Straits Times.

"There were efforts to stifle Anies from getting a ticket for the Jakarta election, but polls show his chances are high and support for him kept coming," a party insider said on condition of anonymity.

PDI-P, which is helmed by Ms Megawati Soekarnoputri, has yet to officially announce who it will field for the Jakarta gubernatorial election. But backing Mr Anies could again bring it head-to-head with its rival Gerindra, led by President-elect Prabowo Subianto, and his ally, President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.

Indonesia in February held legislative and presidential elections, with PDI-P garnering the largest chunk of the votes, followed by seven other parties that made the cut to be represented in Parliament for five years from October 2024.

Defence Minister Prabowo, backed by President Widodo, won the presidential election after beating his two rivals, Mr Anies and Mr Ganjar Pranowo of PDI-P.

In the Jakarta race in November, Mr Anies will likely take on Mr Ridwan Kamil, who is backed by Gerindra and Mr Widodo. The outgoing President is considering putting forward his younger son Kaesang Pangarep as Mr Ridwan's running mate.

Gerindra, however, is keen to have Mr Budisatrio Djiwandono, Mr Prabowo's nephew, as Mr Ridwan's running mate.

The Jakarta polls are the highlight of Indonesia's five-yearly local elections. On Nov 27, about 200 million will cast their votes for the governors of 37 provinces including Jakarta, mayors of 93 cities and regents of 415 regencies.

The Jakarta governor position is widely considered a stepping stone for anyone aspiring to be Indonesia's next president. Whoever occupies the gubernatorial seat enjoys a high profile, with nationwide attention and national media coverage.

Opinion polls conducted in early May for the upcoming Jakarta race showed Mr Anies, who was Jakarta governor from 2017 to 2022, had 30.3 per cent support, while his predecessor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama had 19.5 per cent, and Mr Ridwan, a former West Java governor, garnered 15.8 per cent.

PDI-P insiders, however, told ST that Mr Basuki, who was embroiled in blasphemy charges during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, will be assigned to run for the North Sumatra provincial governor post.

Meanwhile, Mr Anies' electability figures rose in June after some senior PDI-P figures publicly expressed their support for him, party insiders told ST.

On June 12, the head of PDI-P's faction in Parliament, Mr Utut Adianto, told reporters that a key consideration in picking a candidate is their chances of winning and whether a candidate's ideology clashes with that of the party.

"He is a person who holds the red and white flag at his heart dearly," Mr Utut said, describing Mr Anies' nationalist quality, using the country's national flag as a metaphor.

Mr Anies' support base has traditionally come from the pious Muslim population, while PDI-P relies on nationalist voters. The Islamic-leaning National Awakening Party is backing him for the Jakarta race, while further support could come from the National Democrat Party, which also backed Mr Anies' presidential ticket.

Political analyst Djayadi Hanan noted that in the February presidential election, 41 per cent of voters residing in Jakarta supported Mr Anies, while 17 per cent of them voted for PDI-P's Mr Ganjar. Their combined vote share would exceed the majority.

"Coalescing with PDI-P would be a complementary move," he said.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/ex-presidential-candidate-anies-gets-boost-for-jakarta-polls-from-indonesia-s-largest-part