The NasDem Party officially named outgoing Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan as its 2024 presidential nominee. While making the announcement at the NasDem headquarters in Jakarta, Chairman Surya Paloh confirmed that the party’s decision is tantamount to boosting the party commitment to nationalism and inclusivity, believing Anies represents an authentic leader of nationalism and inclusivity.
In fact, the NasDem burns the candle at both ends with this maneuver, which should have been announced last November 2022. This makes sense and is not a glitch-ridden move as at the outset, Anies’ political capital was NasDem, not other party. Anies has met face to face with Surya Paloh shortly after the second inauguration of Joko Widodo as president. NasDem opposed Gerindra joining the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Cabinet. Ever since, it was a part of government party but remains in an oppositional sense thus far. Yet Paloh emphasizes that his relationship with President Jokowi are just fine.
Like it or not, Paloh’s way of announcing Anies could backfire when he dismally fails to get a read of Anies’s political supporters. Paloh in his speech at the Anies declaration reiterated that NasDem was committed to supporting Jokowi, which is anti-climax and anti-thesis of Anies’ supporters whose majority are anti-Jokowi faction. Anies announcement is more of NasDem’s way to play safe in the face of avid supporter of president of Jokowi and opposition supporters.
It will not take a long time for Anies’ traditional partisan to see that he is only an engine of the party’s lucrative endeavor. NasDem’s two-leg politics — politics of accommodation or play-safe politics — constitutes an unhealthy political transaction. Anies and his supporting base will certainly be very disillusioned if Paloh has his own vested agenda behind his move. If any, Anies’ critical supporters will likely see this early announcement as a political sabotage, fishing in trouble water. Some of Anies’ critical circle still glimpses Surya Paloh as a symbol of the country’s political oligarchy misusing Anies’ weaknesses and his political base.
However, the party move plays a political role in ‘terrorizing’ other parties. It could compel the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) to nominate Ganjar Pranowo in place of Puan Maharani. How come a middle party such as NasDem threatens a big and strong party like PDIP? Based on various survey results, Anies Baswedan’s heavy opponent is not Puan Maharani, but Ganjar Pranowo, unless PDIP simply vies for vice president seat.
The winning party is worth nominating its candidate pair but targeting the vice president is rather outlandish despite its regular sight in the current politics of direct elections. Will Megawati have the heart to yes over Ganjar rather than her daughter, just like she backed up Jokowi in 2014? It is very hard. Or will Megawati campaign for Puan to be vice presidential candidate of Anies, Prabowo, or even Ganjar? It is ironic but has taken place in assorted local elections, where fellow PDIP politicians advanced together, competed one another.
NasDem will get wrong if it reads Anies out for a short-term benefit or as a person easily prostrates himself before political elites, including the party politicians. His struggle for nationalism and inclusiveness is inseparably bound to his pioneering power, rendering him to figure a way out whatever it takes, whatever people say. As an inspiring trailblazer, Anies initiated Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar, a movement that sends educated youths to teach in remote areas across Indonesia. He showed his nationalist attitude and respect for the diversity of this nation when he was trusted by President Jokowi to become the minister of education. He began by trying, the simplest thing, praying before the class kicks off. For 70 years of independent Indonesia, the pre-class prayer is absolutely led by Muslim students. Anies pushed Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Buddhists students taking turn to lead prayer. All have the same right.
His political catchphrase, ‘continue and change,’ is not all talk for this nomination but has been implemented since very beginning of his political career. As governor of Jakarta, he has succeeded very well to continue what Jokowi and Ahok have begun as the previous governors. He filled what was still lacking like the expansion of transportation networks outside Trans Jakarta such as Jak Lingko allowing Jakartans to move from one place to another for free. During his administration, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship took place and attracted more than 13.4 million live viewers in the country. For more than 20 years, Indonesia has not held a world championship event. Similarly, the Jakarta International Stadium (JIS) stands majestically during his reign, just like the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam.
Anies Baswedan is only one of the figures who are worthy of leading Indonesia in the future. There are still several other figures who deserve to go forward and need to be appreciated. Ganjar Pranowo, Ridwan Kamil and Agus Yudhoyono are also worthy of competing in the next election. Whoever wins, the unity of Indonesia must come first.