Analysis: Are Indonesia’s presidential hopefuls Ganjar and Anies ganging up on

JAKARTA: Indonesian presidential frontrunner Prabowo Subianto was jointly attacked by his two opponents again in another televised election debate, in a tag-team move that has appeared to lower the defence minister’s winning chances.

But analysts are split on whether the seemingly uncoordinated offensive by ex-Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo would pay off for them in shaving Mr Prabowo’s lead in time for the Feb 14 presidential election, or if it might even backfire.

In the third of a five-debate series, the candidates were grilled on Sunday night (Jan 7) on the topics of defence, security, international relations and geopolitics.

It’s familiar territory for Mr Prabowo, 72, who has been Indonesia’s defence minister for almost five years, though that did not stop his two rivals from criticising his performance at the ministry, such as accusing him of mismanaging defence procurement.  

Mr Prabowo was notably upset and said at a press conference after the debate that his rivals were not citing accurate data.

“I was a little disappointed with the quality (of the debate), especially the narratives conveyed by the other candidates. In my opinion, first of all, their data is wrong,” said a visibly sullen-looking candidate.

“Secondly, (they want to) use the issues of defence to score political points, which, in my opinion, is not permissible for statesmen.”

Political analyst Ujang Komarudin from the University of Al Azhar Indonesia said Mr Prabowo is being attacked because he is the frontrunner. 

“Those were hard and continuous attacks because Prabowo is considered a common enemy given his high electability.

“All surveys have put Prabowo on the first spot and far ahead of the electability of Anies and Ganjar. Therefore, to bring down Prabowo, he must be attacked during the debate.” 

On Saturday, pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia, for example, released its latest survey. It shows that Mr Prabowo’s electability is 46.9 per cent. 

Mr Anies came in second with 23.2 per cent, while Mr Ganjar secured the last spot with 22.2 per cent. 

However, a survey by the daily newspaper Kompas after Sunday’s debate showed that 79.7 per cent of its 210 respondents nationwide were satisfied with Mr Ganjar’s performance. 

A total of 71.4 per cent were satisfied with Mr Anies’ performance, while only 48.9 per cent were satisfied with Mr Prabowo’s performance.

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