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Indonesia's political parties switch gears for regional polls

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2024

Yerica Lai, Jakarta – The country's political parties have begun vetting potential nominees and searching for allies for the November regional elections as disputes over the results of the February presidential race near their conclusion at the Constitutional Court.

The Nov. 27 regional elections will be the first time Indonesians simultaneously elect governors, mayors and regents across 37 of the country's 38 provinces (excluding Yogyakarta), 416 regencies and 98 cities.

The Golkar Party, which has the second-most seats in the House of Representatives, has begun looking for possible candidates for the November polls, with more than a thousand party members, some of whom are incumbent regional heads, being tapped as potential nominees.

Prominent figures on the list include West Java governor Ridwan Kamil; his wife Atalia Praratya, who has never held public office; and Medan Mayor Bobby Nasution, the son-in-law of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Ridwan is expected to run for governor of either West Java or Jakarta, while Atalia is projected to run for mayor of Bandung, a position her husband once held.

Bobby – who was dismissed from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) last year for supporting the presidential bid of the eventual winner, Prabowo Subianto, who ran alongside Jokowi's son Gibran Rakabuming Raka on the rival Gerindra Party ticket – is expected to run for governor of North Sumatra.

Speaking on Saturday after Golkar's first meeting with prospective regional electoral candidates, party chairman Airlangga Hartarto said the list would be narrowed down in the coming months after the party reviewed the potential candidates' opinion polling figures.

"There will be three electability surveys. The first will be in May, followed by two others in July and August," Airlangga said.

Airlangga added that Golkar would begin looking for alliances for the regional polls, whether with its current partners in the existing Gerindra-led pro-Prabowo alliance or with parties from rival camps.

"[In building] an alliance for each regional race, our priority will certainly be [parties in] the Onward Indonesia Coalition. However, forging cooperation will also depend on the achievements of prospective partners in previous [regional elections]," Airlangga said.

Candidates in regional races can run either on a party ticket or as an independent, each with its own conditions. Only parties with more than 25 percent of the seats in a particular regional legislative council (DPRD) may support candidates for that region's elections.

At least 117 regional incumbents from the PDI-P, the largest party in the national legislature and the backer of presidential contender Ganjar Pranowo, are seeking reelection in November.

"We have drawn up schedules for a series of preparatory events for the regional elections to be held after the Idul Fitri holiday," PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said last week.

He said the PDI-P's strong showing in the February legislative race had provided insights that would help it formulate strategies for local races.

Aside from vetting potential candidates from its own ranks, the PDI-P is also exploring the option of supporting candidates from outside the party, such as former East Java governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who is eligible to run for the position again in November.

Khofifah won early support from four rivals of the PDI-P in the presidential election – Golkar, Gerindra, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party – after she campaigned for the Prabowo-Gibran ticket.

"[The PDI-P] sees no problem with partnering [with rival camps] because political dynamics in regional elections are different from those at the national level," Hasto said.

He said that in past regional elections, the PDI-P had allied with Gerindra to support the same candidates in several regions, even though the two parties were on opposite sides in the 2014 and 2019 presidential races.

Political parties supporting losing presidential candidate Anies Baswedan might also end up on opposing sides in several regional elections.

The NasDem Party, the de facto leader of the pro-Anies alliance, is considering continuing its three-way partnership in the coming regional elections. But one of its two allies, the National Awakening Party (PKB), is already considering forging partnerships with parties outside the alliance for local races.

PKB deputy chair Jazilul Fawaid said on Saturday that the political landscape at the regional level was "far more complex" than at the national level.

For the coming Jakarta gubernatorial race, NasDem chair Surya Paloh suggested he might nominate party member and incumbent House lawmaker Ahmad Sahroni over Anies, a former one-term Jakarta governor who is eligible for reelection in November.

But Sahroni ran for reelection to the House in the February legislative race and is now thought likely to be awarded a seat after winning the most votes of any NasDem candidate in the Jakarta III electoral district.

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesias-political-parties-switch-gears-for-regional-polls