Who Should Jokowi and Prabowo Choose as Running Mates?


MAY 24, 2018

Jakarta. Both the current president and his main rival four years ago send signals that they will face each other again in the 2019 presidential election. But who are their prospective running mates?

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is already supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and two new players on the political scene: the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the United Indonesia Party (Perindo).

His competitor, retired general and chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Prabowo Subianto, seems to be still in talks to obtain an endorsement from the undecided — the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party (PD).

In order to compete, a presidential candidate has to be supported by a political party, or a coalition of parties, that won 25 percent of the most recent legislative vote or has 20 percent of seats in the House of Representatives.

Recent electability polls by Charta Politika, Litbang Kompas, Indikator and Poltracking give Jokowi more than 50 percent, while Prabowo's score is under 30 percent.

There is, however, no mathematical certainty in politics. In the previous election, Jokowi won with Prabowo by only 4 percent. The potential vice presidents will play a big role in Indonesian voters' decision on whether Jokowi would remain in the office or Prabowo would replace him.

"The vice president's position becomes important in the 2019 election, not only to increase [each] presidential candidate's electability, but also in toning down the use of identity politics," J. Kristiadi, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (23/05).

While vice presidential candidates may not be announced soon, there are speculations surrounding several names.

Susi Pudjiastuti

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, 53, has become one of the most popular ministers in Jokowi's cabinet, partly due to her controversial seize-and-sink policy to combat illegal fishing, in which some 310 foreign vessels have been sunk since 2015.

For her efforts to protect Indonesian waters, the World Wildlife Fund recognized Susi with its Leaders for a Living Planet award in the oceans category in 2016.

According to PDI-P politician Arteria Dahlan, the party considers Susi, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD as Jokowi's potential running mates.

An Alvara Research Center ranking from February, puts Susi as eighth on its list of the most suitable vice presidential candidates to run with Jokowi.

"[Yes,] if such is the president's request," Susi replies, when asked whether she would run with Jokowi in next year's election.

Susi and Jokowi participate in a meeting with fishermen at the State Palace in Jakarta on May 8. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A)

Susi started her career as an entrepreneur at the age of 18, when she founded ASI Pudjiastuti Marine Product, which specializes in seafood produce. Later, she established ASI Pudjiastuti Aviation, the owner of Susi Air, which operates light commercial and charter flights.

She is the first Indonesian minister who has not completed high school education. She was expelled from school for joining Golongan Putih, a movement opposed to the then ruling Golongan Karya (Golkar).

This will become an obstacle in her nomination, as the 2017 General Elections Law requires presidential and vice presidential candidates to have completed secondary education.

A volunteer group for Jokowi and Susi, JOSS, says it is ready to file a judicial review with the Constitutional Court to change the regulation.

"The pair may be promising with its high electability, but unfortunately she has no party to back her," said Pangi Chaniago of Voxpol Center.

"Jokowi will try to find a running mate who will increase his electability, as he is still not safe enough to choose someone without a strong Muslim base or political and military support," said CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes.

Susi is not affiliated with any political party.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Sri Mulyani, 56, with her considerable success as finance minister, has been increasingly mentioned as a suitable candidate for vice president. In February, the World Government Summit recognized her as the best minister.

In 2014, she was the 38th most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes.

An IndoBarometer poll from January, listed Sri Mulyani as the sixth choice among 15 vice presidential candidates.

However, the minister herself does not seem to show much enthusiasm about the possibility of participating in the election.

"Just let me serve as finance minister," she told reporters in March.

President Jokowi and Sri Mulyani. (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Secretariat)

Sri Mulyani entered Jokowi's cabinet in 2016. Earlier, she was also serving as finance minister under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) in 2005-10. During her tenure, in 2007, the Indonesian economy grew 6.6 percent — the highest rate since the country was hit by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Sri Mulyani resigned from the office after she was appointed as managing director at the World Bank. It was speculated that political pressure played role in her resignation, after her approval of the bailout of Bank Century in 2008. The bailout generated immense controversy in Indonesia, with critics alleging a litany of irregularities in the decision that some say was taken to save politically connected depositors. It also resulted in Rp 6.7 trillion ($472 million) state losses.

During her current tenure, Sri Mulyani has been perceived as a tough reformist with her tax amnesty program, encouraging taxpayers to come clean about previously unreported assets, which has increased tax revenue, tax compliance and returned more offshore assets to the Indonesia.

"If Jokowi wants to boost the economy, Sri Mulyani will be a great choice. But he must also be realistic, as he needs to raise his electability rate to a safe level first," said Adi Prayitno, lecturer at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta.

Sri Mulyani is not affiliated with any political party.

Gatot Nurmantyo

Former Indonesian Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, 58, has been mentioned as a prospective vice presidential candidate for either Jokowi or Prabowo.

On March 31, the general was retired from service and on the next day he mentioned the possibility of running in the election.

"Starting today, I have the same rights and obligations as a child of the nation, member of society, and other citizens of the Republic of Indonesia, including the right to vote and be elected in the upcoming elections," Gatot said in a press release on April 2.

According to IndoBarometer survey polls from April, Gatot was the most suitable running mate for both Jokowi and Prabowo.

Gatot Nurmantyo gestures as he sits in his car after talking to reporters in Jakarta on Jan. 5. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

"Gatot Nurmantyo would help Jokowi gain support among voters who choose Prabowo Subianto ... Jokowi lacks strong footing among Muslim voters," Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said during the DBS Asian Insights Conference last year.

Gatot's name started to enter survey polls after he joined the November 2016 protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

In an interview for Tempo in April, he admitted that Prabowo has approached him several times, but there was no agreement as of yet.

He is not officially affiliated with any political party.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, 40, the first child of SBY, resigned from his military career in 2016 to participate in Jakarta's gubernatorial election. He was out of the competition after the first round.

The defeat, however, has not discouraged him from participating in next year's presidential election, as his father's Democratic Party is still looking for a possible coalition with other parties, including PDI-P and Gerindra.

According to a poll by the Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) from January, Agus was the most popular candidate for vice president, beating out Gatot and Gen. Moeldoko — former military chief who is now Jokowi's chief of staff.

Agus is a retired infantry major. (Photo courtesy of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono)

In early March, it seemed that PDI-P would be joining forces with the Democratic Party, following several meetings between Agus and Jokowi, but eventually there was no deal, as SBY was displeased by accusations that his administration was responsible for the high-profile electronic identity cards (e-KTP) corruption scandal.

On Sunday (20/05), Agus met with Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno, who is supported by Gerindra. SBY is expected to meet Prabowo after Idul Fitri, at the end of Ramadan.

"Agus's electability is rising, because he often travels across Indonesia to talk with the people. He is a suitable choice for the silent majority that wants someone new on the national political stage," said Herzaky Putra of Manilka Research and Consulting Institution.

Anies Baswedan

According to Charta Politika polls released on Monday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, 49, ranked first as the most suitable vice presidential candidate for Prabowo. January's IndoBarometer poll also indicated him as the best option for Jokowi.

"I'm taking care of Jakarta. ... I will focus on taking care of Jakarta for the time being," Anies said, responding to the possibility of participating in next year's election.

Anies, who was Jokowi's spokesman during the 2014 presidential campaign, became education minister, but was removed by the president two years later.

He then drifted to the main opposition party, Gerindra, to run in the Jakarta election, which was marred by identity politics and deep religious and ethnic divisions.

Prabowo congratulates Anies during his inauguration as Jakarta governor. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A)

Before he entered politics, Anies, a grandson of Indonesian freedom fighter and diplomat Abdurrahman Baswedan, was known as a scholar. He obtained degrees from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and Northern Illinois University. He served as rector of Paramadina University in 2007-15.

Anies became popular for his educational program Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches), introduced in 2009, which assigned university graduates to teach for one year in Indonesia's rural regions.

"Anies will help boost Prabowo's electability. However, whether Anies would become his running mate will depend on PKS, as it wants someone from its own ranks to accompany Prabowo," said Syamsuddin Haris of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Though active in politics, Anies is not officially affiliated with any political party.

Muhaimin Iskandar

Among all possible candidates, only Muhaimin Iskandar (Cak Imin), 52, has openly declared his willingness to run with Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election.

"We will keep working on the electability and public acceptance for Jokowi-Muhaimin Iskandar," said Muhaimin, who is a nephew of late Nahdlatula Ulama (NU) leader and former President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur).

Jokowi and Muhaimin test the new train to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Courtesy of Press Bureau)

Muhaimin has been the chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) since 2005. Founded in 1998, the party is particularly popular on Java, where it appeals to members of Nahdlatul Ulama.

The nationalist Muslim party received 9.04 percent of the vote in 2014 and has 47 seats in the House of Representatives.

Muhaimin, a Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Indonesia graduate, served as manpower and transmigration minister in SBY's cabinet, in 2009-2014. He is now a deputy speaker at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

According to LSI director Kuskridho Ambardi, a running mate affiliated with Muslim organizations would significantly increase Jokowi's electability.

"Moderate Islamic leaders are considered to be the base for preventing the further division of Indonesia," Kuskridho said.

Muhaimin, however, does not deny the possibility of joining another presidential candidate.

"For now, my choice is to become Jokowi's vice president, because he is the only definite presidential candidate. But the future depends on political dynamics," he said.