On Thursday (September 15), the well-liked governor of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, declared that he is “prepared” to run for president of the world’s third-largest democracy in 2024, despite the fact that he has not yet secured the endorsement of any political party for his candidacy.
Independent opinion polls have shown that 53-year-old Anies Baswedan, who has served as governor for the past five years, has emerged as one of the leading figures expected to compete in the presidential election that will take place in February 2024. His current term as governor will end the following month.
In an interview with Reuters conducted in Singapore, he stated, “I’m prepared to run for president if a party nominates me.” He went on to say that the fact that he is not a member of a party gives him “space to engage with all groups.”
Anies, a former education minister and university rector, stated that he believes the fact that these unasked-for surveys are taking place before he has even begun his campaign lends him greater legitimacy.
Other prominent people who have expressed interest in running for president include Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who has already attempted to win the presidency twice before but was unsuccessful, and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, who is a rising politician in the party currently in power. Because he has already served the maximum number of terms allowed for a president, incumbent Joko Widodo cannot run again.
Given his popularity at the helm of one of Southeast Asia’s biggest cities, which is a post that is frequently regarded as a springboard to the presidency, analysts suggest that Anies is a possible frontrunner for the presidency. Before being promoted to his current position in 2014, Widodo served as the governor of the city for a period of two years.
But Anies has also been criticized for the manner in which he rose to power in Jakarta in 2017, with the assistance of radical Islamist groups. These groups had been agitating against his opponent and former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, who was later imprisoned for insulting Islam. Anies won the election, but he has also been criticized for the manner in which he rose to power.
At the time, Anies, who advocates for a moderate form of Islam, was perceived as not doing much to reconcile deepening religious and communal rifts in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.
However, he claims that the measures he implemented as governor “brought the people of Jakarta together.”
“In the past, people have made assumptions about me, including what I believed in and what I would do if I were elected to office. Now that I have been in office for the past five years, judge me according to the facts and my track record,” he stated.