On 21 April 2023, just before the Idul Fitri celebrations started, the Chairwoman of Indonesia’s biggest political party (PDI-P), Megawati Soekarnoputri, announced that she decided to throw her support behind Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.
This was breaking news, indeed, because one of the big questions related to the 2024 legislative and presidential elections was who the PDI-P’s candidate would be. While Pranowo was an obvious choice since he is a PDI-P member and enjoys widespread popularity (based on the various survey and opinion polls), it was speculated that Megawati perhaps preferred to nominate her daughter (Puan Maharani) to keep the Sukarno-dynasty relevant in today’s, and tomorrow’s, Indonesian politics. However, the problem with Maharani (currently Speaker of the House of Representatives) is that she does not enjoy significant popularity among the people. Her participation in politics is usually regarded a consequence of her family ties, not her political skills. And so, Megawati’s choice for Pranowo is one that seems to be in the best interest of the PDI-P.
The combination of PDI-P and Pranowo means that the most popular party and the most popular presidential candidate team up together. This certainly seems like a ticket to victory in 2024.
The timing of Megawati’s announcement is somewhat unfortunate. Around a decade ago, when Megawati announced Joko Widodo as the PDI-P’s presidential candidate (in March 2014), it pushed Indonesia’s benchmark stock index (Jakarta Composite Index) more than three percent higher in one day. In the case of Pranowo, however, the stock market was closed for a holiday. And while the nomination of Pranowo was big news in Indonesian media, it felt different from Widodo’s nomination in 2014.
The difference could be that in the case of Widodo it was the first time in Indonesian history that a presidential candidate did not originate from the country’s traditional political, military, or, religious elite. And so, society at large has now perhaps become used to this new phenomenon. Some would argue that Megawati’s decision to make the announcement during the national holiday –when most people have other things on their mind than politics– is a sign that she is not overly enthusiastic about this decision.
Coalitions to Be Formed
What is certain, though, is that as a consequence of Megawati’s latest announcement we now expect to see more activities in terms of political party coalition formation. For example, the United Development Party (or PPP) announced in late-April 2023 (five days after Megawati’s announcement) that the PPP will support Pranowo as its presidential candidate in the 2024 election.
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