Those who closely follow Indonesian media should have noticed that there has been an increase in coverage of the approaching 2024 presidential election. This involves articles and analyses of the electability of certain political persons (including polls and surveys) but also articles that we consider (hidden) marketing.
An example of the latter is that we noticed there appeared quite some news stories featuring then-Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan over the past couple of months (such as his presence at the opening of new churches in Jakarta). These articles do not seem to serve anything else than raising Baswedan’s profile. After all, we should always be aware of the close ties between media and politics (and in some cases it are political figures who own entire TV stations, such as Surya Paloh, leader of the Nasdem Party).
It is a situation that also exists in the West. And so, one can argue to what extent today’s media are actually “free” (as they often have to serve the interests of certain political persons or parties, and in some cases big business). This could also explain why there has been a strong increase in podcasts and YouTube channels that discuss the news from different perspectives (as they are independent from certain political or corporate forces), with some being highly factual and informative, while others seem to focus on spreading unfounded conspiracy theories.
And so, when it was reported in Indonesian media in early October 2022 that Anies Baswedan was nominated by the Nasdem Party (the fourth-biggest political party in Indonesia based on the number of current seats in the House of Representatives) to be its presidential candidate for the 2024 election, we were not overly surprised and suspected that the recent increase in news stories of Baswedan was perhaps related to this announcement of Nasdem.
On the other hand, the increase in news coverage could also be related to the fact that Baswedan has just completed his five-year term as Jakarta Governor (in mid-October 2022). This could be an occasion for the press to give some more attention to Baswedan.
Nasdem’s announcement to back Anies Baswedan in the 2024 presidential election did cause a stir, with many wondering why they came with this news so early. After all, official registration of presidential candidates starts in October 2023.
It could be that Nasdem wants to repeat the success it had in 2014 when it was the first to openly back incumbent President Joko Widodo in the presidential race. Being the first to announce a candidate may therefore raise the profile of the political party which could cause its ranking in the opinion polls and surveys to rise. In the case of Nasdem it is certainly impressive that for a young political party (founded in 2011) it has rapidly evolved into one of the biggest parties in Indonesia.
However, considering a political party (or coalition of political parties) that controls either 20 percent of seats in the House of Representative (DPR) or 25 percent of the popular votes in the prior election (i.e. in the 2019 election) are allowed to nominate a presidential candidate for the race in 2024, Nasdem needs coalition partners.
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