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East Java awaits Khofifah's rival in upcoming gubernatorial election

Jakarta Globe - May 24, 2024

Thomas Rizal, Jakarta – The people of East Java will pick their next governor this November, but the rival to the previously reigning Khofifah Indar Parawansa and her deputy Emil Dardak remains a mystery although they will likely face religious figure Marzuki Mustamar.

Former social affairs minister Khofifah was the East Java governor for the 2019-2024 term with Emil as her second-in-command. To run for governor in East Java, a pair must earn support from at least 20 percent of the seats at the provincial legislative council – equivalent to 24 out of the 120 seats based on the 2024 legislative election results.

The Golkar party – which has secured 15 seats in the recent legislative election – announced last week they would nominate Khofifah for the East Java gubernatorial election. Khofifah has earned backing from other parties, namely Gerindra (21 seats), the National Mandate Party or PAN (5 seats), and the Democratic Party (11 seats). This means that Khofifah has collectively gotten support from 52 legislative members or about 43.3 percent of the regional House seats.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) is the only party that can nominate its own candidate without the need to join forces with other parties. PKB, which has historical connections with the world's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), won 27 seats in the recent legislative election. This makes up 22.25 percent of the total seats in the province's council.

PKB still has not unveiled their East Java governor candidate. But Khofifah has had rocky ties with PKB Chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, and their relationship has gone downhill since the 2024 presidential election. Muhaimin – also known by his nickname Cak Imin – was the vice presidential candidate to Anies Baswedan.

The dynamics show that it is very unlikely for PKB to back Khofifah's goal of keeping the gubernatorial post. Chances for a "kotak kosong" ('blank box') – the Indonesian term for when there is only a single candidate in an election – are also extremely slim.

Muhaimin recently said that it was not without reason that the PKB chose to stay silent on their East Java gubernatorial nominee for the time being. His statement alluded that PKB would not be on the same team as Khofifah.

"Whoever [our candidate is], that is still a secret. If this gets leaked and Khofifah finds out, that would be dangerous," Muhaimin said, shortly after meeting Mardiono, the acting chairman of the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP), in Jakarta.

PKB's deputy secretary-general Syaiful Huda said last week that his party was currently sorting out the potential candidates to face Khofifah. One of the possible names is Marzuki Mustamar, the former head of NU's East Java chapter.

"Marzuki is one of the options, and also a woman so she can compete with Khofifah," Huda said.

Khofifah recently claimed that she was ready if she had to face Marzuki in the election that would take place this November. She said: "We are building friendship and synergy for the sake of developing East Java."

There are other parties that have won seats in the East Java legislative council but have yet to announce their support for the gubernatorial election. They are the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) (21 seats), the National Democratic Party (10 seats), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) (5 seats), PPP (4 seats), and the Indonesian Solidarity Party or PSI (1 seat).

PDI-P's support is set to determine how the election will play out. Khofifah's running mate Emil Dardak earlier this week said that he was still trying to reach out to PDI-P.

"Our communications [with PDI-P] are still going well. ... I would say everyone is on amicable terms," Emil said.

PDI-P also echoed similar sentiments regarding their communications with the Khofifah-Emil pair.

"We are still intensively communicating with various people, be it with Khofifah or the other political parties. We will see how far this communication will take," PDI-P's central executive board chair Said Abdullah said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/east-java-awaits-khofifahs-rival-in-upcoming-gubernatorial-electio