Jakarta. The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, has not revealed its presidential candidate for 2024 despite having the luxury of getting its pick on the ballot without help from other parties.
The nomination, as other key decisions, is left solely to chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to decide under the party’s centralistic nature of leadership.
“Regarding the candidates for the president and the vice president, that’s the authority of Madame Megawati Soekarnoputri and the party is dutifully waiting for her instruction,” PDI-P Secretary-General Hasto Kristiyanto said on Sunday.
But Hasto added he had asked Megawati about 2024 and she “replied with just two words: be patient”.
The PDI-P is the only party that currently has more than 20 percent of House of Representatives seats, the requirement for a party to join the presidential election.
Those who don’t meet the threshold must establish a coalition with other parties.
The National Democratic Party (Nasdem) is currently approaching the Democratic Party and the Social Justice Party (PKS) to build a coalition after it nominated Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan for president during a surprise announcement last week.
Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra)’s Chairman Prabowo Subianto declared last month that he is ready to run in the presidential race for the third consecutive time after his party forged a coalition with the National Awakening Party (PKB) to meet the threshold.
The remaining three parties that have seats in the lower chamber of the parliament -- the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), and the United Development Party (PPP) -- join hands under the United Indonesia Coalition although they have yet to announce their candidate.
If nothing changes, the PDI-P will be on its own come 2024.
During a visit to Seoul last month, Megawati said it’s likely that both the presidential candidate and the running mate will come from her party.
“I don’t mean to be arrogant but the fact is that we can run [for the presidential election] on our own and this becomes part of our calculation,” she said.
Without the need to forge a coalition, the PDI-P is relatively free from external influence and Megawati told other parties who signal a potential partnership but are in rush to know its candidates to “have a coalition with others”.
It doesn’t mean that the PDI-P is lacking strong candidates. Party member and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has been ahead of Anies and Prabowo in many major surveys in recent months.
So, what makes it so long? Or more correctly, who?
Megawati’s daughter, House Speaker Puan Maharani also has the ambition for the country’s top job.
For months, she has been campaigning aggressively through social media platforms to boost her popularity with little success.
But Puan still has one year to test the water until the General Election Commission (KPU) officially opens registration for presidential candidates.
Despite criticisms of its highly centralized decision-making process, the PDI-P has a reputation for naming candidates outside of the inner circle for key government posts.
One notable example is Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, then a relatively unknown mayor of Solo in Central Java when Megawati asked him to run for the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Jokowi won the election and his success continued when the PDI-P nominated him for president in 2014 and 2019.