Three Pairs Candidates Avoid Polarization

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Paris, Frankfurt (27/10 – 20)

Indonesian Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and Vice Presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka registered on Wednesday, Oct 25, the last open day, with the General Election Commission, the recently-forged Prabowo-Gibran team accompanied by millions of sympathizers; there were lengthy traffic jams.

Prabowo-Gibran thus complements the two other teams of presidential and vice presidential candidates who registered on the first day: Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD. The three couples have undergone medical tests and the results will come out this afternoon (Oct 27).

Since the advent of what is known as Reformasi, or a “reform era” following the retirement of President Soeharto in 1998, this is the first time a presidential and vice presidential election contested by three pairs of candidates.

It is noteworthy to observe that all three pairs definitely intend to avoid any “polarization”, which might pose a concern were there were only two pair of candidates. More interestingly, Anies and Ganjar are trying to curry favor from the Nahdliyin (as Nahdlatul Ulama is known), through the choice of their vice presidential candidates.

These days many rumors are circulating about the three couples, and while their veracity cannot be confirmed, it seems that the public is genuinely enthusiastic about this “party of democracy”. The younger generation, who are usually apathetic about general elections and choose to abstain, are starting to speak out and express their opinions. It seems they are enjoying this event.

It cannot be denied that the appearance of Gibran, President Joko Widodo’s eldest son, as Prabowo’s companion has given rise to narratives about dynastic politics, a candidate too young to run, and his father’s interference. It is said that Prabowo offered Gibran the candidacy seven times before the young man finally acceded. While people tended to harbor doubts about Gibran, they came around stop when he delivered his oration. The intelligence and insight of this young man is clearly visible.

On the other hand, the appearance of Gibran as Prabowo’s Vice-Presidential candidate strengthens rumors of tension between Jokowi and Megawati Soekarnoputri, the General Chair of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), as Prabowo is General Chair of rival Gerindra Party. It has been suggested over the last two days that President Jokowi is going to replace Budi Gunawan, the Head of BIN (State Intelligence Agency), who is known to be a close ally of Megawati. BIN will be a crucial factor, especially when the general election is held.

“I don’t know yet. I stand behind any decision of the President,” declared former Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Dudung Abdurachman, who is likely to be replacing Budi Gunawan, at Jakarta, Wednesday (Oct 25).

Survey institutions in Indonesia provide various survey results. However, let us look at the results of a world survey from Ipsos Public Affairs of France, dated October 21, 2023. The three sets of candidates have equal compatibility figures: Anis-Muhaimin 28.91%, Prabowo-Gibran 31.32%, and Ganjar-Mahfud 31.98 . However, a number of voters are still undecided – “swing voters” who have not yet come to a decision; usually it is this bloc that will decide which one to vote for after the debates between presidential and vice presidential candidates.