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Analysis: The likelihood of a single-round 2024 presidential race

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2023

Tenggara Strategics, Jakarta – The campaign teams of the presidential and vice presidential candidate pairs are confident they can win the Feb. 14, 2024 race in only one round. However, although one of the tickets, namely Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, slowly approaches the 50 percent mark in opinion surveys, experts maintain that the presidential election will most likely carry on to a runoff.

According to Gerindra Party secretary-general Ahmad Muzani, the Prabowo-Gibran pair are poised to win the presidential election in just one round of voting. Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) is also optimistic that the ticket can beat the threshold of 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round, referencing the favorable results of several opinion polls.

A survey by Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) this week showed the Prabowo-Gibran pair have an electability rating of 40.3 percent, followed by the Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD pair with 28.6 percent and the Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin "Cak Imin" Iskandar pair with 20.3 percent. Prabowo-Gibran also tops a poll by Indonesia Political Opinion (IPO) with 36.2 percent, with Anies-Cak Imin trailing closely at 34.1 percent and Ganjar-Mahfud placing last at 27.1 percent.

A Populi Center survey, released earlier this month, also found the Prabowo-Gibran pair moved clear with a rating of 43.1 percent, while Ganjar-Mahfud and Anies-Cak Imin remained at 23 percent and 22.3 percent respectively.

The campaign team behind Ganjar-Mahfud, however, has denied reports that the pair's electability rating is on the decline. Deputy head of the team, acting United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Mardiono, went so far as to claim that an internal survey reflected a positive trend and that the team was confident Ganjar-Mahfud could win the election in only one round.

The law mandates a majority voting system for the presidential race, which means that a presidential and vice-presidential pair must garner at least 50 percent of the vote across the country and at least 20 percent of the vote in each province to win the race. If no candidate reaches this threshold, another round of voting is held between the top-two contenders.

The runoff, if any, will be held in July 2024. The government has allocated a budget for a two-round presidential election.

The public, however, also prefers a single-round election according to a survey conducted by Populi Center from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. The poll found that 64.9 percent of respondents would prefer it if the presidential election finished in just one round.

What's more

Although it does not seem that the Prabowo-Gibran pair's electability will be stagnating anytime soon – even amid the controversy surrounding Gibran's eligibility to run for vice president – experts believe the 2024 presidential election will most likely conclude in two rounds.

A professor in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) of Padjadjaran University, Idil Akbar, said that considering none of the candidate pairs have reached an electability rating of 50 percent by now, winning the presidential election in one round may be difficult.

A peace and conflict resolution professor at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Riza Noer Arfani is of the opinion that a single-round presidential election may instigate conflict and that a two-round voting system would better represent a fair competition. He also noted, however, that polarization does not appear to be as evident in the upcoming race, likely due to increased digital media literacy.

The last three-way tie in a presidential election came in 2009, which saw the incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono secure a win by a landslide of more than 60 percent of the vote. His toughest contender, Megawati Soekarnoputri, who partnered Prabowo, finished a distant second with 26.79 percent of the vote. The pair of Jusuf Kalla and Wiranto managed only 12.41 percent.

This time around no incumbent is on the card. Perhaps in an attempt to repeat 2009, Prabowo has chosen Gibran as his running mate. Being the eldest son of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Gibran is deemed as a representation of his father, who is barred by the Constitution from running for another term.

Holding a second round for the presidential election also means a larger budget must be allocated. General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Hasyim Asy'ari insists that the government and the House of Representatives have approved an allocated budget of Rp 76.6 trillion for the presidential election, which takes into account a second voting round.

What we've heard

A politician who is aware of the internal dynamics of Ganjar's team claimed that Ganjar's electability has declined as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo loyalists within the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have shifted their support to Prabowo. Hence, Ganjar began openly criticizing law enforcement and human rights under the Jokowi administration.

"The party has instructed its members not to attack Jokowi, but they are free to criticize the other candidates," the source said.

Meanwhile, Prabowo's electability continues to increase due to his campaign strategy. Prabowo's team has been using the term gemoy, slang for cute, to make the former army general more approachable to the younger generation. However, Prabowo's electability did take a hit after the Constitutional Court's controversial decision that allowed Gibran to become his running mate.

Several politicians affirmed that Prabowo is aiming to win the election in a single round of voting. Because of this, the Prabowo-Gibran pair is carrying out massive campaigns via various media channels. These sources added that the pair is believed to have received assistance from state institutions to win the presidential race.

"Massive amounts of campaign props were installed in remote villages," said the source.

[This content is provided by Tenggara Strategics in collaboration with The Jakarta Post to serve the latest comprehensive and reliable analysis on Indonesia's political and business landscape.]

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2023/11/27/analysis-the-likelihood-of-a-single-round-2024-presidential-race.htm