Groups backing Indonesian presidential hopefuls begin to gather grassroots support for them

Members of Aliansi Nasional Indonesia Sejahtera (Anies) declaring their support for Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in the country’s 2024 presidential election. PHOTO: GOODBENERDKI/ INSTAGRAM

JAKARTA - Supporters of prospective candidates for the next presidential election in Indonesia have begun campaigning at the grassroots for them.

Although unusually early to do so - the election is not due till 2024 - a number of groups have publicly pledged their support for the various aspirants, a move observers said was aimed at building up grassroots centres across Indonesia for their standard bearers.

On live national television, a group called the National Alliance for Indonesia's Welfare declared on Wednesday (Oct 20) that it would ensure incumbent Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, 52, would run for the nation's highest office.

Similar moves were made previously by supporters of other potential candidates such as Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, 52, and Parliament Speaker Puan Maharani, 48.

The group supporting the Central Java governor was aptly called Friends of Ganjar, while those of the Speaker were known as Puan echoes, an apparent reference to their tag line that her "struggle" to help others echoed across the nation.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo is among the potential candidates. PHOTO: GOVERNOR'S OFFICE

All the groups have declared that they were not asked to take up the torch for their candidates, but analysts told The Straits Times that these citizen groups are usually directly or indirectly affiliated to those they are supporting.

"This is a phenomenon in Indonesia. It amounts to a show of force that the presidential aspirants they promote have strong grassroots support," Dr Djayadi Hanan of the Paramadina University told ST. "This is early campaigning by the hopefuls who intend to run in 2024."

Supporters of the individual aspirants from across the nation would make contact with the group that made the declaration, fortifying a support base, said Dr Djayadi, explaining the benefit of these early moves.

He said it was obvious that prospective candidates had to disavow the groups as they were incumbents in public office and should be seen to be focusing on their jobs rather than on their ambitions.

Mr Dani Kusuma, an organiser in the Anies for President event on Wednesday, said his group would be holding a roadshow across the country to promote the Jakarta governor.

Mr Anies has always been among the top three in popularity surveys, thanks to his achievements, which include integrating Jakarta's transportation system, building wider space for pedestrians and turning city parks into sought-after spots for residents to relax, said Mr Dani.

Mr Daddy Palgunadi, coordinator of the group that is supporting Ms Puan, said the grassroots had been "awestruck" by her humble and down-to-earth personality and her style of working quietly.

"She is never busy boosting public image, nor does she promote herself on social media," Mr Daddy told reporters.

Mr Mazdjo Pray, an organiser behind a declaration to support Mr Ganjar, told Kompas TV that the Central Java governor had effectively tapped social media as a tool to help with his work.

"He is not reluctant to open up and let Central Java residents with a complaint send a Twitter message, which was often followed up by Mr Ganjar visiting the area with the problem," Mr Mazdjo said.

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