INDONESIA: The Executive Director of the Indonesia Public Institute (IPI), Karyono Wibowo, has highlighted President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) continuing impact on electoral popularity leading up to the 2024 General Election (Pemilu).
This influence is evident in the competition between potential presidential candidates Ganjar Pranowo and Prabowo Subianto, who have been strategically leveraging their meetings with the 7th President of Indonesia.
While Karyono Wibowo stated, “The frequency of meetings between Jokowi and Prabowo seems to be increasing.”, he cautioned against jumping to conclusions that Jokowi is favouring Prabowo over Ganjar.
He emphasized that the President’s recent closeness to Prabowo does not imply a withdrawal of support for Ganjar Pranowo, as evident from their meetings and ideological alignment.
The Prabowo camp has proven adept at exploiting the so-called “Jokowi effect,” which measures the significant influence the current President holds, with public satisfaction and trust in Jokowi remaining high at over 80 per cent.
They have capitalized on their proximity to Jokowi, framing narratives that portray him as endorsing Prabowo’s candidacy.
These efforts extend not only to online platforms but also to physical public spaces, with billboards and banners featuring Prabowo alongside Jokowi appearing in various regions, especially strongholds of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
On the other hand, opponents of the PDI-P have attempted to undermine Jokowi’s and Ganjar Pranowo’s relationship with the party by labeling them as mere party officials.
This tactic aims to project Prabowo as the rightful successor, ready to continue Jokowi’s policies. Karyono explained that this is a political communication strategy aimed at shaping public perception, and it positions Jokowi as a “kingmaker” in the 2024 presidential election.
In response to these developments, Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, Executive Director of Voxpol Center Research and Consulting, argued that Jokowi’s recent political maneuvers indicate a desire to secure a stake in the success of the presidential candidate.
Pangi stated, “Jokowi has been offered the position of Gerindra Party Chairman, with Gibran offered as Prabowo’s running mate. This indicates their shared interests, suggesting that Prabowo, Erick, and Ganjar will continue to follow Jokowi’s political direction.”
Pangi justified Jokowi’s actions, saying it is essential for outgoing leaders to have a stake that can be protected once they no longer hold power.
He explained that many politicians fear losing influence and respect after their tenure ends. Additionally, Pangi observed that Jokowi’s gestures and political moves indicate he still wields significant control over Indonesian politics, even after the end of his presidency.
Regarding support for vice presidential candidates, Pangi believed that Jokowi’s backing is more apparent for Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir and Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno.
However, when it comes to presidential candidates, Jokowi appears to be cautious and unwilling to place all his eggs in one basket. He may distribute support between Prabowo and Ganjar to ensure their electability remains stable and controlled.