Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – There is no doubt that former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is one of the strongest candidates for the 2024 presidential election but the three-party coalition behind his nomination can easily break down over the question of who will become his running mate.
Soon after the National Democratic Party, or Nasdem, formally announced Anies as their pick for the presidential election last October, it approached the Democratic Party and the Social Justice Party (PKS) to forge a coalition and reach the presidential threshold – a political party or a coalition of parties must have at least 20 percent of House of Representatives seats to nominate a candidate.
While the Democrats and the PKS similarly support Anies' presidential aspiration, each has its own pick for a running mate.
It's no secret that the Democrats want party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono to be the candidate for the vice president, while the PKS has repeatedly proposed former West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan as a running mate for Anies.
Signs of an internal rift in the fragile coalition emerged last week when Nasdem executives made a surprise visit to the joint secretariat of a rival coalition – which comprises the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the National Awakening Party (PKB). In fact, the Nasdem delegation led by Deputy Chairman Ahmad Ali was the first guest of the secretariat that was formally launched only several days earlier.
"If the PKS and the Democrats insist on their own running mate and don't let Anies decide by himself, it's very likely that the Nasdem will maneuver its way to other parties, like Gerindra and the PKB," political researcher Adi Prayitno said in a recent interview with BTV news channel.
"The Democrats will not stay put and will call for the maneuver to stop because without the Democratic Party, Nasdem and Anies won't qualify for the election, that's the message," the director of consulting firm Parapemeter Politik Indonesia said.
The Democratic Party won't rush into cementing ties with the coalition until there's assurance that Agus – also known by initials AHY – is confirmed as the running mate for Anies, Adi said.
Agus, the oldest son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, learned the political dynamics of the presidential election the hard way. In the 2019 election, his party joined the coalition supporting Prabowo Subianto under the belief that Agus would comfortably earn candidacy for the vice president.
Instead, Prabowo appointed fellow Gerindra executive Sandiaga Uno to pair with him for the election. "The Democratic Party can't afford a recurrence of what happened in 2019," Adi said.
Herman Khaeron, a member of the Democratic Party's central leadership board, said Agus has agreed to give Anies the freedom to pick his running mate. But Herman added: "In this equal partnership, the Democratic Party is proposing its best candidate, which is Brother AHY."
He also reminded about the 20 percent threshold, indicating that without his party's involvement, Nasdem's ambition to make Anies president will be shattered prematurely.
Unable to follow his logic, BTV host Fristian Griec asked him if the Democratic Party will stay in the coalition if Anies picks a running mate other than Agus.
Herman couldn't firmly provide an answer, further suggesting that the Democratic Party, the PKS, and Nasdem are still too much apart to form an alliance.
Rep. Andrea Rosiade (Gerindra), known as a close aide of Prabowo, said the coalition between his party and the PKB has yet to formally announce candidates for the 2024 poll and that it's open to other parties to join.
But he stressed that during the August 12 congress, Gerindra formally nominated Prabowo as a presidential candidate and that "there is no room for negotiation".
That means Nasdem jumping ship into the Prabowo coalition equals ending Anies' presidential bid. Furthermore, Gerindra and the PKB alone have met the presidential threshold without needing a new coalition member.
In the same BTV talk show, Nasdem politician Saan Mustopa denied that the recent visit to the Gerindra-PKB joint secretariat was political. "The visit by our deputy chairman just to show a gesture of friendship, and secondly to congratulate the launch of the joint secretariat," Saan said.