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Can Indonesia’s Anies Baswedan and VP pick win with ‘total opposite’ ideals?

This Week in AsiaPolitics

Indonesia presidential poll: can Anies Baswedan and running mate win with ‘total opposite’ ideals?

Anies’ unexpected pick could be an effort to garner support from Indonesia’s biggest Islamic party, and to portray himself as a ‘more moderate’ politicianA ‘very conservative’ PKS, one of Anies’ supporting parties, contrasts with his VP pick’s ‘moderate’ PKB that could cause internal tension, warn analystsIndonesiaAmy SoodPublished: 6:30pm, 5 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

Indonesian opposition figure Anies Baswedan named his running mate over the weekend in hopes of bolstering support from the country’s largest Islamic party, but observers say while the move might soften his hardline image, it also presents the threat of internal party strife, posing a risk for his presidential run.

In a speech on Saturday, the former Jakarta governor announced his vice-presidential pick to be Muhaimin Iskandar, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) that has close ties to Indonesia’s biggest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

It was an unexpected move on many counts: Muhaimin, the deputy house speaker, has long been a supporter of current President Joko Widodo, and his PKB party was quick to back Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto’s presidential campaign in May, prompting rumours the two would run together.But observers say a drastic step might have been on the cards for Anies, who has been trailing in opinion polls for months. The surveys are pointing to a close race between Prabowo and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo – both candidates backed by the incumbent Widodo, who has been coined “kingmaker” of the election.

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In a poll released by research firm Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting in late August, Ganjar led in the three-way race with 35.9 per cent, Prabowo had 33.6 per cent and Anies had 20.4 per cent. But in a two-way contest between the top two candidates, Prabowo was in the lead by 3 per cent.

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