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Indonesia election 2024: can Ganjar Pranowo force a run-off as bid for ‘total victory’ dries up?

Tall, urbane and articulate, the former Central Java governor did not start out that way. He soared in the surveys soon after grabbing the sought-after prize of being named the presidential nominee from the country’s ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Ganjar’s fortunes have turned. He has less than two weeks to fight to stay in the game after having sunk to the bottom of recent opinion polls.

A presidential candidate needs a simple majority of more than 50 per cent to win on February 14. If not, there will be a run-off election on June 26 between the top two candidates with the highest number of votes.

The most recent polls have put Prabowo ahead, with around 45-50 per cent of the vote, and Anies at second place with between 21 per cent and 23 per cent, while Ganjar has trailed behind, hovering around 20 per cent.

Ganjar was named by Megawati as the PDI-P’s presidential candidate last April.

A few months later, it seemed he was also going to receive the president’s backing when Widodo said he thought Ganjar was suited to be the country’s future leader.

But no official presidential endorsement ever came.

This played out poorly in football-crazy Indonesia. Ganjar’s popularity dipped in polls almost immediately, and he was overtaken by Prabowo. And analysts say he has failed to pick up the momentum since then.

“His performance in the presidential debates has not been very impressive,” said Arya Fernandes, head of the politics department at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

Some voters may not see him as a decisive leader and instead look to him as an extension of party leader Megawati, said Arya, adding “Anies has been able to present himself in a more strong manner”, and that may be