Jakarta, ruling party nominates Pranowo to defend Pancasila
by Mathias Hariyadi

Announcing the choice of Central Java's governor for the February 2024 presidential election was the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Megawati Sukarnoputri. At first it was thought she would choose her daughter, the current Speaker of the House. President Joko Widodo approved the decision. At the moment there are two other candidates.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has put forward the governor of Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo, as its candidate in the presidential election scheduled for February 2024.

The announcement was made on 21 April by party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, former president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004 and daughter of the nation's first leader Sukarno. Pranowo's choice is considered by many to be the best one to defend Indonesia's pluralism and secularism from fundamentalist Islamic forces, who would like to adopt the shari'a (Islamic law) instead of the Pancasila, the philosophical thought on which the Indonesian state has been based since independence in 1945.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world for number of believers.

"It is becoming a responsibility of the nation to stay the course of history," as designed by the founding fathers, while continuing to uphold a secular state. "My decision to choose Pranowo is not an easy task to accomplish," Megawati Sukarnoputri said, adding that her decision was made after a series of talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his daughter, Puan Maharani and his son, Muhammad Prananda Prabowo, both belonging to the PDI-P.

In recent weeks, many thought Megawati would have preferred her daughter Puan Maharani, currently Speaker of the Indonesian House of Parliament, to Pranowo, but the public immediately accused her of nepotism. "I made this decision with my heart, conscience and rationality after discussing it with all key PDI-P members, including President Joko Widodo," Megawati added.

Ganjar Pranowo will now face the other two contenders in the election: former general and current Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, of the Greater Indonesia Movement (or Gerindra) party, a conservative camp, and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, a candidate with the National Democratic Party (more simply called NasDem).

Pranowo has been a member of the PDI-P since the 1990s and had sided with Megawati Sukarnoputri during a split in the party, a choice that made his career. Elected as governor of Central Java for the first time in 2013, and then a second time in 2018, he led a series of campaigns against local government corruption, for which he also received awards from the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Tukiman Taruna Sayoga, a lecturer at Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang, capital of Central Java Province, has known Ganjar Pranowo for a long time and has helped him on several occasions. Interviewed by AsiaNews, he said: 'I am happy that Megawati Sukarnoputri finally nominated Ganjar Pranowo as his presidential candidate. His choice is correct and fair. I know Pranowo very well. He is a figure who cares for the nation, very humble and hospitable and always does good. He is a man of action and a straightforward person. As a Catholic from Central Java, I fully support him to become our next president'.