Indonesia sets date for 2024 election, ending Jokowi speculation

Indonesia's parliament agreed with the government and the election committee on holding the next general election on Feb 14, 2024. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesia will hold its next general election on Feb 14, 2024, easing speculation that President Joko Widodo would seek to extend his second term in the world's largest Muslim democracy.

Parliament agreed with the government and the election committee on the date, Home Minister Tito Karnavian said at Parliament late on Monday (Jan 24).

Regional elections to vote for provincial governors and regency chiefs will be held on Nov 27 of the same year.

While the Constitution bars presidents from serving more than two terms, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia suggested that many in the business community were hoping for a delay in the 2024 election to minimise political disturbances and help steady economic growth momentum.

"They are just recovering from a health crisis, so the possibility of being hit again by political instability" isn't a good thing, said Mr Lahadalia during a presentation of a recent election survey by pollster Indikator Politik on Jan 12.

The speculation about extending Mr Widodo's term had been seen as an attempt to safeguard a US$34 billion (S$45.66 billion) project for a new capital city that backers say is key to sustaining an economy recovery from the pandemic.

The president has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the extension idea or to running for a third term, which would require an amendment to the 1945 Constitution.

"The approval of the date signals that the elite is prepared to move on with the 2024 agenda, and that the government had no arguments anymore to delay any further," said Dr Marcus Mietzner, an assistant professor of political science at the Australian National University.

Still, "there might be further attempts down the road as the construction of the new capital starts and justifications for an extension built around that seem more plausible," Dr Mietzner added.

While no one has publicly said they would run for presidency, recent surveys indicate that Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan may become frontrunners due to their rising popularity.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto also ran in the past two elections, losing both to Mr Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.

Other names getting attention from local media outlets include West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil; parliamentary speaker Puan Maharani, who is also a daughter of former President Megawati Soekarnoputri; Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno; and State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, who played a central role in Jokowi's last campaign.

Mr Pranowo was chosen by 28.2 per cent of respondents in a survey by pollster Charta Politika in December, while 23.8 per cent picked Mr Subianto, who is also leader of Gerindra party. Mr Baswedan was picked by 19.6 per cent of respondents, whileMr Kamil and Mr Uno each received 5.8 per cent support.

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