10/06/2022, 16.30
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First candidates lining up for Indonesia’s 2024 presidential elections

by Mathias Hariyadi

The first two to enter the race are Jakarta Governor Anies Basweden and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo. While the former is disliked by many in his own party, the latter has gained in popularity thanks to social media and his anti-corruption work.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – After the National Democratic Party (NasDem)[*] named Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan as its candidate for the presidential election in 2024, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI)[†], which is especially popular among young Indonesians, responded by picking Ganjar Pranowo, Governor of Central Java.

As a result, Indonesia’s race for the presidency has kicked off, but choosing Anies already appears very unpopular, both among voters and within his own party – in many provinces, scores of members have resigned in protest.

President Joko Widodo declined to comment on Anies’s candidacy, whom he had appointed as education minister before dropping him during a cabinet reshuffle.

Last June Anies was accused of corruption in connection with a Formula E event. Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Commission is still investigating the case.

Many in the country fear the return of discriminatory practices and sectarianism, which enabled NasDem to win in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election defeating Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, an ethnic Chinese and a Christian who was heavily criticised by Islamic extremists for making improper remarks about the Qu‘ran.

Many view Anies as a politician who makes “empty boasts”, all slogans but no actions, someone who has repeatedly made controversial statements (like the rains must return to Earth, as the Lord wills it, and not flow into the sea) and implemented policies contrary to what he had promised in the election campaign, including slum clearance around Jakarta.

Ganjar is seen as different, with a broader appeal among voters. Rising in the ranks of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P),[‡] he became popular thanks to a skilful use of social media.

As governor, he introduced a policy of cheap loans, set at 2 per cent (the lowest in Indonesia at the time), with no collateral nor administrative fees.

Now the model – which was praised by President Joko Widodo – has been adopted in other Indonesian provinces.

In 2015, the Anti-Corruption Commission awarded the Central Java administration a prize for reporting corruption, a recognition achieved thanks to Ganjar's crackdown on tipping local officials.

[*] Partai Nasional Demokrat.

[†] Partai Solidaritas Indonesia.

[‡] Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan.

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