Jakarta ● Wed, November 30, 2022
The future of the Gerindra Party-led alliance, which plans to announce a ticket for the 2024 presidential election by January next year, is hanging in the balance after the National Awakening Party (PKB) floated the idea of leaving the alliance if its chairman is not named a candidate for vice president.
Since declaring in August their alliance, called the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition (KIR), Gerindra and the PKB have been trying to find their middle ground over the 2024 ticket. But fresh rumors were later swirling that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been pushing for Gerindra chair Prabowo Subianto to run with rising star Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo on his side. Ganjar is Jokowi’s fellow member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and whose popularity has outpaced PKB chair Muhaimin Iskandar.
Once an opposition leader and former Army general, Prabowo had made two unsuccessful bids for the country's top job against Jokowi before he joined the government and became the defense minister, disappointing his conservative Muslim base.
Gerindra's alliance with the PKB is likely intended to combine the former’s nationalist supporters and the latter’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) religious base, particularly after Prabowo suffered back-to-back defeats in East Java, a traditional NU stronghold.
In recent events, the President has dropped hints of his support for Prabowo and Ganjar, separately. Analysts have said this could indicate, among others, Jokowi's endorsement for both politicians to run together in the upcoming presidential race.
While such a scenario of pairing Prabowo with Ganjar remains speculation, Prabowo is likely to have his hands tied as his party had entered into a political pact with the PKB, which insists on nominating Muhaimin as a presidential candidate or at least as Prabowo’s running mate.
A document inked by Gerindra and the PKB in mid-August says that additional coalition partners and nomination of a presidential and vice presidential candidate pair would be jointly agreed by Prabowo and Muhaimin.
Asked whether he was open to the idea of Prabowo being paired with Ganjar, Muhaimin publicly floated the possibility of parting ways with Gerindra, saying, "I will make another [alliance for the 2024 race] [if Prabowo runs with Ganjar]."
Analyst Adi Prayitno believed Muhaimin's remark was not a mere bluff.
"It served as an ultimatum on Muhaimin's part. It would be agitating for Muhaimin to hear suggestions about Prabowo going forward in the upcoming race without him as his running mate," Adi said. "Muhaimin certainly doesn’t want Gerindra to run with the PKB without him as its running mate choice."
Muhaimin has been eyeing the country's top posts for years and even expressed his confidence back in 2018 that Jokowi would choose him to run for vice president in the 2019 election.
Gerindra's rank and file have brushed off any suggestions that Prabowo is seeking to run with a candidate other than Muhaimin, stressing that they will uphold the commitment made jointly by the two parties.
But signs of election talks between Gerindra and the PKB hitting an impasse have come to the fore with repeated delays of the launch of their joint secretariat office in Jakarta and both leaders showing no signs of backing away from their inclination to run in the 2024 race. The joint team was initially planned to be activated in September.
Gerindra's secretary-general Ahmad Muzani admitted that no joint agreement had been reached so far over whom the alliance will nominate, but stressed that the two parties are aiming to announce their candidate pair by January next year.
“Until now the two [leaders] have yet to enter negotiation on a presidential candidate, let alone a vice presidential candidate. Both [chiefs] have the right to propose, but also have the right to veto any name being put forward,” Muzani said.
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