Prabowo’s presidential bid could flounder if coalition partners ‘abandon’ him for Baswedan ticket

Kumparan News – July 6, 2018
Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga, Anies and Prabowo - Undated (Reuters)
Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga, Anies and Prabowo - Undated (Reuters)

In the lead up to the deadline for the registration of presidential and vice-presidential candidates on August 10, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s name is increasingly being cited by a number of political parties.

With his popularity and electability continuing to grow [according to political surveys], he is attracting the attention of the political parties wanting to back him in the 2019 presidential election.

The Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN), the two Islamic based parties that are closest to Prabowo Subianto’s Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), are considering putting forward Baswedan as a presidential candidate in 2019.

Although both parties already have a number of names in their pockets as prospective presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Baswedan’s name nevertheless has never slipped from their attention.

Take PKS central leadership board chairperson Mardani Ali Sera for example. He does not deny that Baswedan could become a presidential candidate with potential, although his name has yet to be discussed by the party’s advisory board.

Mas [Brother] Anies is one of the potential presidential candidates who has a bright future. It is natural [therefore] if many parties want him to step forward as a candidate. The PKS has a close relationship with Mas Anies”, said Sera in an SMS message on Wednesday July 4.

A similar response was given by PAN central leadership board chairperson Yandri Susanto. Susanto even said that PAN has prepared three scenarios for alternative presidential and vice-presidential candidates – all of which include the name Baswedan.

“It could be Prabowo-Anies, Prabowo-Bang Zul [PAN chairperson Zulkifli Hasan], Anies-Gatot [former armed forces chief Gatot Nurmantyo], Gatot-Anies. It depends on later discussions at the coalition level on how it goes down”, said Susanto at PAN’s headquarters on Jl. Senopati in South Jakarta on Thursday July 5.

Jakarta State Islamic University (UIN) political observer Adi Prayitno explained that the fact that Baswedan’s name is so often mentioned by these two political parties is a signal that the PKS and PAN are actually reluctant to nominate Prabowo as a presidential candidate.

According to Prayitno, although Gerindra is convinced that Prabowo is the one and only candidate that should be backed, this however has yet to be confirmed by the PKS and PAN.

“The PKS has stipulated that Anies be nominated as the vice-presidential candidate. But the PKS has also asked that Pak [Mr] Prabowo be the ‘king maker’”, said Prayitno when contacted by Kumparan on Thursday.

Prayitno said that so far, although Gerindra is close to and stipulated that it will form a coalition with the PKS and PAN, officially the three political parties have not yet agreed to back Prabowo.

“Gerindra supports Prabowo unconditionally. But their coalition partners have yet to agree on this. The PKS does not want to lose face, they are endorsing Anies”, he said.

Prayitno said that it is not impossible that the PKS and PAN will “abandon” Prabowo and back Baswedan as their presidential candidate. Moreover, if these two parties are serious about backing Baswedan, this could become a threat to Prabowo himself.

“If the PKS and PAN are serious, it’s a warning for Prabowo. Because it’s not just the public right, but the PKS and PAN have seats [in the parliament]. An Anies-AHY [Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono] ticket could also pose a threat to Prabowo. And he could fail to be nominated. Gerindra needs one other political party [to reach the presidential threshold], so this cannot be considered insignificant”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Prabowo Terancam Batal Nyapres, Ditinggalkan Koalisi PAN-PKS.]