Analysis: Political constellations shift after Anies-Muhaimin duo announced – Academia


Tenggara Strategics (The Jakarta Post)

Jakarta   ●  
Mon, September 11, 2023


The country’s political landscape has changed after the announcement that former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan will partner with National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin ‘’Cak Imin’’ Iskandar as presidential and vice-presidential candidates. The Coalition of Change for Unity, which has until now opposed the current government and has selected Anies as its presidential candidate, has moved closer to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s policy lines, turning the 2024 presidential election into a race among the “President’s men”.

The drama surrounding the naming of Cak Imin as Anies’ running mate created turbulence within the Coalition of Change, which consists of the NasDem (National Democratic) Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party. The disappointed Democratic Party, which had proposed that its chairman, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, be Anies’ running mate, decided to leave the coalition, while PKS remains undecided as it waits for its supreme council to convene. PKS decided not to send its representatives to the declaration event for the Anies-Cak Imin partnership in Surabaya, East Java last weekend.

With the departure of the Democrats, PKS is the only opposition party within the Coalition of Change, while NasDem and new member PKB are both major pro-Jokowi parties that are expected to protect Jokowi’s legacies. Even if PKS decides to leave the coalition, Nasdem and PKB have enough seats in the House to name their own presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

Some political analysts suspect that the decision to pair Cak Imin with Anies’ was made at the behest of President Jokowi. Soon after making a deal with Cak Imin, NasDem chairman Surya Paloh met with Jokowi at the State Palace on Aug. 31.  Jokowi’s blessing is crucial to Surya if he wants to keep NasDem in the ruling coalition.

The situation must remind the Democrats of the 2019 presidential election, when the party was not able to form a political coalition and name their own presidential candidate. It has been reported that the Democrats are approaching Jokowi’s Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). The Democrats’ wish to join the PDI-P coalition, however, will depend on the blessing of PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, who has been reluctant to meet with Democratic Party supervisory council chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, after losing to him twice in the 2004 and 2009 presidential elections.

The announcement of the Anies-Cak Imin pair has also opened the possibility of creating a fourth axis, as the United Development Party’s (PPP) adopted politician Sandiaga Uno – a Jokowi loyalist – has approached the Democrats and PKS in hopes of forming a new coalition. This would pave the way for a fourth presidential candidate to contest the 2024 presidential election alongside Anies, PDI-P presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo and Move Forward Coalition candidate Prabowo Subianto. The last two are both Jokowi loyalists.

What’s more

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) initiated an investigation into a 2012 corruption case involving the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry, of which Cak Imin was the minister. The KPK has summoned Cak Imin as a witness for questioning. Further updates from the case involving Cak Imin will affect the coalition ahead of presidential and vice-presidential candidate registration with the General Elections Commission (KPU) from Oct. 19 to Nov. 25.

Cak Imin has also been facing backlash from Yahya Cholil Staquf, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s biggest Islamic organization, after Cak Imin mentioned that he had received the full backing of NU kyais, or religious leaders, in East Java. Yahya mentioned that NU did not endorse any presidential or vice-presidential candidates, and that no candidates should claim they have received support from NU.

NU is strong in East Java, an important battleground for all presidential candidates. Therefore, all the candidates are trying to get vice-presidential candidates who have strong support in the region or have an NU background. Prabowo Subianto, for example, invited Yenny Wahid, daughter of former president and NU chairman Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid to his home on Wednesday to gain the support of NU followers in East Java.

What we’ve heard

Two high-ranking members of the NasDem Party as well as individuals close to Anies have said that Muhaimin was chosen because he could provide added value to Anies’ chances of winning the 2024 presidential election. Internal surveys conducted by Anies and several allied parties meanwhile showed an overlap in voter preference between Anies and Agus Harimurti. “Agus Harimurti’s supporters are also Anies’ supporters, so there’s no differentiation between them,” said a close associate of Anies.

Sources within Anies’ circle said the former Jakarta governor had long been eyeing a running mate from East Java, specifically someone affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization. Anies had calculated that he was likely to win in Sumatra but would face challenges in eastern Indonesia, including Sulawesi. His vote share in Kalimantan was expected to be relatively unchanged, “So, Java Island will remain decisive,” said one source.

Anies’ team assumes that, according to their calculations and the results of the 2019 presidential election, Anies will win in Jakarta and West Java but might lose in Central Java.

A close associate of Anies said internal surveys indicated that Anies was leading in most areas outside of Java and was neck and neck with Prabowo in West Sumatra and South Sulawesi. However, he had an electability of only 8 percent in Central Java and 13 percent in East Java. “Doubling the vote share in Central Java and East Java will be enough to get Anies through the first round,” said the associate.

They also said Anies had initially considered picking Agus Harimurti as his running mate might increase his vote share in East Java, albeit not significantly, with potential improvement only in Mataraman, in western East Java. Still, Anies’ team continued to count on NU’s traditional strongholds, particularly in Pasuruan and Probolinggo. “Choosing Muhaimin shows that Anies also aims to increase [his] vote share in these areas,” the associate said.

Other insiders mentioned that Anies could meet his targeted votes in Central Java and East Java if the PKB’s political machine performed optimally. In the 2019 elections, the PKB garnered the highest number of votes in East Java and Central Java, at respectively 4.2 million and 2.7 million.


This content is provided by Tenggara Strategics in collaboration with The Jakarta Post to serve the latest comprehensive and reliable analysis on Indonesia’s political and business landscape. Access the latest edition of Tenggara Backgrounder to read the articles listed below:


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