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15th Governor of Central Java, Indonesia

Ganjar Pranowo (born 28 October 1968) is the governor of Central Java province who has served since 23 August 2013. He is a member of the nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Previously, he represented Central Java as a national legislator in the People’s Representative Council (DPR) for two terms – 2004–2009 and 2009–2013.

On 22 April 2023, PDI-P announced that Pranowo will be the party candidate for the 2024 Indonesian Presidential elections.[1][2] He has been described as populist-left.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ganjar Pranowo, born Ganjar Sungkowo, was born to a family in a village on the slopes of Mount Lawu, Karanganyar, to a father named S Pamudji Pramudi Wiryo (1930 – 3 January 2017)[4] and a mother named Sri Suparni (1940 – 28 March 2015).[5] He is the fifth of six children.[6][7] Pranowo’s father was a police officer who took part in counter-insurgency operations, including the crackdown of PRRI rebels.[8]

Ganjar’s birth name, Ganjar Sungkowo, translates to “reward after troubles/sadness (Sungkowo).” However, when he entered school, his second name was changed to Pranowo because his parents feared that the child would “always wallow in misfortune and trouble” if it remained as Sungkowo.[9][10]


Early education[edit]

Because of his father’s assignments, his family often moved, including to Kutoarjo where Pranowo went for junior high school at SMPN 1 Kutoarjo. For senior high school, he attended a private school in the city of Yogyakarta.[11] In high school, he was active in scouting activities.[12][13] Towards the end of high school in the late 1980s, his father retired from police service, forcing his mother to open a grocery shop and sell gasoline on the roadside to make ends meet.[14]


After graduating from high school, he continued his studies at the Faculty of Law at the prestigious Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta. During his time at UGM, Ganjar was active in the Indonesian National Student Movement known as Gerakan Mahasiswa Nasional Indonesia(GMNI).[15][16][13] GMNI is currently affiliated to PDI-P.

While studying at UGM, Ganjar admitted that he had taken two semesters off due to not having the money to pay for tuition.[17] He graduated with a law degree in 1994 with thesis examiner Professor Nindyo Pramono.[18] Ganjar was involved in student demonstrations during college. He often protested against government and university policies.[19]

Ganjar also earned a postgraduate degree from University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, graduating from the Political Science Masters program.[13][20]

Early career[edit]

After graduating, Pranowo relocated to Jakarta to pursue work. He found employment in the oil and gas sector, working for PT Prakarsa Pramandita as a human resource development consultant officer.[21] He also worked for other companies, including PT Prastawana Karya Samitra and PT Semeru Realindo Inti, before entering politics.[22]

Active in GMNI and admiring Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno, Pranowo in 1996 naturally joined the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), which was created with a Sukarnoist core. That year was vital for PDI and Pranowo, the party was hit by an internal conflict between supporters of Suryadi, who bowed to the authoritarian government of President Suharto, and Sukarno’s daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri who rebelled against the political subjugation. She later created a splinter, PDI-P, which complete version means the rebel faction of PDI. Pranowo, a passionate Sukarnoist, supported Megawati and the PDI-P resistance, eventually leading him to choose a career in politics. Until the 1998 resignation of Suharto, it was difficult for anti-government politicians to hold onto their day jobs and they were frowned upon. As Pranowo’s father was a police officer and his brother was a judge, his political move also troubled his family who worked for the government as Suharto’s New Order regime required loyalty from state officials who must support the authoritarian president’s Golkar party.[23][24]

Pranowo witnessed firsthand the deadly 27 July 1996 incident when a mob of police officers and soldiers in civilian garb stormed the PDI headquarters. The attack was meant to intimidate and discourage the anti-government movement led by Megawati against Suharto’s undemocratic crackdown on political freedom. The experience hardened Pranowo’s choice to jump into politics through Megawati’s movement.[25]

Legislative career[edit]

After years of working for the PDI-P consolidation after the 1998 transition to democracy, Pranowo in 2004 officially entered public service as a national legislator in Jakarta. Fresh-faced, folksy, and articulate, former student protester Pranowo quickly rose in popularity as a politician who has the gift of speaking to the public and media.

Official portrait of Ganjar Pranowo as a member of the People’s Representative Council in 2004.

First term[edit]

After receiving advice from fellow professionals who joined the PDI-P movement in the 1990s such as Pramono Anung, who is currently serving as cabinet secretary, and Hasto Kristianto, who is currently PDI-P’s secretary general, Pranowo decided to run for a People’s Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) seat in 2004 parliamentary elections. However, he did not win. Fortunately, the PDI-P stalwart who did grab the DPR seat representing his Central Java-7 constituency received an ambassadorship assignment before the 2004 parliament began sitting from Megawati, who was president from 2001 to 2004. Megawati, as PDI-P chief, then assigned Pranowo to the seat that would become his political springboard.[23][26]

During his first term as a DPR member from 2004 to 2009, Pranowo was assigned to a commission that oversaw agriculture, environment, forestry, and maritime affairs. Due to Megawati’s loss in the 2004 presidential elections, PDI-P served as the opposition in Pranowo’s first term. This gave him a platform to attack government policies on forestry at a time when the sector was mismanaged and known for the corrupt practices of the department that managed it and shine as an articulate politician. In addition, he was also assigned to lead the Special Committee for the Political Party Bill, giving him more opportunities to show his political skills.[27]

Second term[edit]

With a far higher profile compared to his first race in 2004, Pranowo successfully defended his DPR seat in the 2009 elections. During his second tenure, Pranowo led the special committee that amended the bill on the roles and functions of legislatures while serving in the commission that supervises issues related to home affairs, local autonomy, public service, bureaucratic reform, elections, land affairs, and agrarian reform—all of which gave him more platform to build his reputation. PDI-P continued to be the opposition in the 2009–2014 term, which was a blessing in disguise for an up-and-coming, eloquent politician like Pranowo.[28]

When the government was hit by controversies related to the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, Pranowo stole the limelight. He became known to the public as a member of the Special Inquiry Committee for the Bank Century Bailout for the opposition, giving him opportunities to convey public discontent over government policies for selected banks.

Amid his busy political life, he completed his postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, at the University of Indonesia in 2013.[29][30]

Governor of Central Java[edit]

Pranowo’s first portrait as governor

First term[edit]

After nine years in parliament as a vocal opposition politician, especially in the commission that supervises home affairs, Pranowo gained popularity and also insight into regional administration despite his straight jump into national politics. With this modality, he aimed for a return to his home province as its governor. Pranowo did not finish his second term in parliament after he won the 2013 Central Java gubernatorial election. He ran an anti-corruption campaign with the slogan “mboten korupsi, mboten ngapusi” (no corruption, no lying) against the incumbent Bibit Waluyo, a former general who was facing graft allegations. Pranowo won the election with a plurality of 48.82% of the vote.[31]

His first term (2013–2018) was marked by his populist efforts in introducing free basic education, building public infrastructure, empowering the province’s coffee farmers, and increasing anti-poverty programs. All of which made him well-positioned to defend his position in the 2018 Central Java gubernatorial election.

Economic reforms[edit]

During his leadership as governor, Pranowo enacted financing loan reform from Bank Jateng for MSMEs with the KUR Mitra 25 product bearing an interest of 7 percent per year, while Mitra 02 was at 2 percent, without collateral, and administrative fees. When launched, the loan interest was the lowest in Indonesia; now the model is replicated by other local governments throughout the country and has even received attention and appreciation from President Joko Widodo.[32][33][34]

Ganjar made a breakthrough by requiring all state civil servants (ASN) which numbered more than 40,000 in the Central Java Provincial Government to pay zakat (based on PP No. 14 of 2014, Presidential Instruction No. 3 of 2014, and the appeal of the governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo). The income of each ASN is directly deducted by 2.5 percent. Monthly, IDR 1.6 billion is collected which is used for disaster assistance, repair of uninhabitable houses (RTLH), education and Islamic boarding schools, mosques, health sector, and others.[35]

Anti-corruption reforms[edit]

In 2015, the Corruption Eradication Commission awarded the Provincial Government of Central Java, led by Pranowo, an award for its consistent reports of corruption and gratification. The recognition came due to Ganjar’s dedication in controlling the giving of gratuities to both governors and officials of the Central Java provincial government. Now, the Eid parcel culture doesn’t even exist anymore in the Central Java Provincial Government.[36][37]

Other reforms[edit]

In 2016, Ganjar launched a program to form disaster-resilient villages. The target is that by 2018 all of the 2204 disaster-prone villages in Central Java become disaster resilient. Pranowo helped form 100 independent villages, mostly in areas that have the potential to become tourist destinations and deliver natural resources for community development.[38]

In the health sector, Ganjar has planned the construction of an international standard modern hospital at MAJT (Central Java Grand Mosque). In addition, Ganjar Pranowo also launched the “Jateng Gayeng Nginceng Wong Meteng” program he initiated early during his administration.[39][40]

Pranowo also brought about farmer cards during his administration. These cards contain data on the identity of the farmer, the area of land, the type of plant, and the need for fertilizer. Outside of farmers, no one has access to subsidized fertilizers, thereby eliminating crime and abuse of authority. President Jokowi then appreciated and made the farmer card a national program.[41]

Second term[edit]

Pranowo ran for re-election in 2018 with a strategy of expanding his nationalist-based vote bank by including conservative Muslims through a young running mate from the Islamist United Development Party (PPP) – Taj Yasin Maimoen. Yasin, who was just 35 in 2018 and a member of the Central Java provincial legislature, is the son of powerful Muslim cleric Maimoen Zubair whose Islamic school influences areas where PDI-P was weak. The Muslim outreach strategy paid off with a 59% victory but it also triggered a drop in the less Islamic areas where PDI-P supporters are based. Pranowo even lost against his challenger, former energy minister Sudirman Said in the regency of Purbalingga which he represented as a national legislator.[42][43]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

During the coronavirus pandemic in Indonesia, Pranowo said he would prepare a heroes’ cemetery for medical personnel who died due to the coronavirus. The statement was in response to the case of residents’ rejection of the funeral of a nurse at the Dr. Kariadi Hospital in Semarang who died from the virus.[44] The statement drew criticism; some felt he should have paid more attention to the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect medical personnel; rather than speaking about graves. For this criticism, Ganjar said those who were using the situation to criticize were doing so for political gain.[45][46]

His second term was marked by his hands-on governance during the COVID-19 pandemic that included him going to the ground often to manage the distribution of medical support and food packages for the affected communities. These populist efforts strengthened his reputation as a pro-people politician and paved the way for him to become the most electable politician in PDI-P for the 2024 presidential election. Besides President Joko Widodo who cannot seek a third term in 2024, no PDI-P politician is more likable after the pandemic than Pranowo.


Weighbridge bribes[edit]

Pranowo on 27 April 2014 caught public attention when he expressed his anger at local officers who extorted truckers during a surprise inspection at the Subah weighbridge in Batang Regency.[47] Ganjar said that he saw first-hand several people who gave money to officers to avoid official fines for overweight loads.[48]

The Subah incident resulted in a policy to close the weighbridges in Central Java from May 2014. However, this policy caused Central Java to lose revenue with provincial councilors criticizing it as self-harm for the sake of popularity.[49] The weighbridge closure also was not followed by an official evaluation of the duties and functions of government employees at weighbridges. The policy blowback led to a reversal.[50]

Semen Indonesia dispute case[edit]

Pranowo became a target of protest from farmers who opposed his environmental permit for the activities of the national cement company Semen Indonesia Group in Rembang Regency through a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta.[51] Since 2015, residents have tried to resist the construction of a cement factory in Rembang’s Kendeng mountains by taking legal action and holding demonstrations ranging from a camp out at the project site to the symbolic action of cementing their feet in Jakarta.

The community eventually succeeded to limit the activities of the cement factory construction after the Supreme Court on 2 August 2016 issued a judicial review decision that dismissed the environmental permit.[52] Although the court decision prohibited mining and drilling in groundwater basins in the Kendeng mountain area, Pranowo on 9 November 2016, issued a new permit by only changing the name of teh company from Semen Gresik to the name of its parent Semen Indonesia.[53][54] According to him, the court decision did not stop factory construction. Thus, the establishment of the Semen Indonesia factory should continue.[55]

Amid resident insistence that the factory should be shut down after the Supreme Court ruling, Pranowo stated that his administration would do so only under the order of the central government.[56] However, the president said the resolution was the responsibility of the province and the central government had no authority to issue permits for cement factories owned by state companies.[57]

Under heavy public pressure, Pranowo on 17 January 2017 canceled his previous addendum and decided to postpone the process of establishing the factory in Rembang until a permit decree was issued in adjustment to the Supreme Court decision.[58] However, a new permit with a slight change in the geographical scope of the factory was re-issued on 23 February 2017.[59][60]

Before and when he was governor of Central Java, Pranowo was known to use the social media application Twitter to communicate with the public. During the inauguration of the acting regional head, he asked officials to be active on social media so that they could quickly receive complaints from residents and respond to and find out the latest information from their respective regions. According to Pranowo, through social media, he can listen to input, criticism, and even hear protests from people who do not like his policies in leading Central Java.[61][62]

2024 presidential campaign[edit]

Ahead of the 2024 Presidential election, which will occur in February 2024, Pranowo has been the subject of media speculation on whether or not he will run for the presidency. In a poll conducted by New Indonesia Research & Consulting, Pranowo polls with 20.5%, with the defense minister and 2019 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto coming in second with 16.7%.[63]

This has resulted in rising tensions with Puan Maharani and the chairman of the PDI-P Election Winning Body (Bappilu) Bambang Wuryanto [id]. Culminating in 2021, when Pranowo was not invited to an important PDIP event in Central Java.[64]

On 19 October 2022, he expressed his possible run for 2024 Indonesian Presidential Election.[65] His unofficial supporters speculated that Megawati Soekarnoputri already gave her consent and approval for him to run for presidency instead of Puan.[66] He was officially announced as PDI-P’s candidate on 21 April 2023.[67]


Bank Indonesia funding flow case[edit]

During his first term in the DPR, Pranowo attracted media coverage because his name was included in a copy of a document that revealed the flow of Bank Indonesia funds to Senayan legislators in April 2008. Ganjar (then a member of the DPR) was mentioned by name in the documents as Ganjar Prastowo. Ganjar confirmed that the Ganjar Prastowo was himself. He later said that he was invited abroad by Bank Indonesia, adding that if the visit is deemed unlawful, Ganjar is ready to return the money he received. BI also acknowledged the authenticity of the document.[68][69]

Pranowo allegedly accepted funding from Bank Indonesia to pass bills regarding the banking industry. Pranowo stated that he didn’t understand the source of the funding, and if the funding he had received is breaking the law he stated that he will return the money. According to anti-corruption non-governmental organizations, Pranowo, along with other fellow DPR members, Bomer Pasaribu (Golkar), Ali Masykur Musa (National Awakening Party), and Andi Rahmat (Prosperous Justice Party), received the funding for their travel to London. Pranowo stated that he is invited to London as a guest, and he didn’t know the source of the funding or the intention of the funding for his travel to London.[70]

He was never charged with any wrongdoing in the situation.[citation needed]

E-KTP corruption scandal[edit]

Muhammad Nazaruddin as the former General Treasurer of the Democratic Party became a witness at the follow-up trial of the e-KTP corruption case . In his testimony, he was questioned about the disbursement of funds to Pranowo. To the judge, Nazaruddin believes that Pranowo, who is now the governor of Central Java, received the money in the project to procure an electronic-based Identity Card (E-KTP). He even admitted that he saw the money handed over to Pranowo, who was then Deputy Chairman of Commission II of the DPR. “Everything I have said is true, Your Honor,” said Nazaruddin to the panel of judges.[71] Pranowo denied that he knew about the distribution of money, but Pranowo stated that Mustokoweni has offered money to him as a “deposit”. Pranowo said that he rejected the offer of money, and he has no knowledge that it is related to the E-KTP corruption scandal.[72]

Several members of Commission II DPR RI 2009–2014 received money in the electronic ID card project according to the minutes allegedly belonging to Miryam S Haryani, found during the investigation. Miryam is a politician from the Hanura Party, a member of Commission II of the DPR RI for that period. In the case of the electronic ID card handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission, Miryam is still a witness and is allegedly the coordinator of the scheme.

In the police report on 1 December 2016, the chairman of Commission II of the DPR RI Chairman Harahap (at that time) assigned Miryam to coordinate the distribution of US$300,000 (two stages) from Sugiharto to members of Commission II of the DPR. Sugiharto is the official commitment maker for the electronic ID card project at the Directorate General of Population and Civil Registration at the Ministry of Home Affairs. From the first phase of US$100,000, each member of the Commission II representative received Rp. 30 million ($3,000 US dollars), each kapoksi per person is Rp. 75 million ($7,000 US dollars), and each leader Rp. 100 million ($10,000 US dollars).

In the leaked and investigation police report, Miryam admitted that he was asked to hand it over to four leaders of Commission II of the DPR RI, each Rp. 100 million. They are Burhanudin Napitupulu from the Golkar Party Ganjar Pranowo from the PDI-P, Taufiq Effendi from the Democratic Party, and Teguh Juwarno from the National Mandate Party (PAN). Ganjar stated that he refused the money from Miryam and returned it to her. Out of the four leaders of the Commission II of the DPR RI, only Ganjar refused the money.[73] Ganjar stated that he is happy when the report is leaked as the report showed that he didn’t receive any money.[74]

Pranowo has always denied the accusations regarding his involvement in the 2011–2012 fiscal year case and he stated that he is always ready to be confronted on this matter.[75] When questioned in December 2016, Pranowo stated that he is only questioned as a witness.[76]

In 2017, during the indictment of Setya Novanto, one of the perpetrators of the corruption, the name of Ganjar is not mentioned in the case.[77][78]

In 2018, KPK announced that they haven’t found any evidence that Ganjar received any money related to the E-KTP case.[79][80]

In 2019, Pranowo was questioned again about the case but he stated that he did not have any information to share with the public.[81]

In 2022, Pranowo is reported again to the KPK for the e-KTP corruption case.[82] Secretary-General Hasto Kristiyanto of PDIP later said “This is a political dynamic ahead of the 2024 presidential election.” He believes the investigation is an attempt to hurt Pranowo if he runs for president in 2024, and that the corruption is not related to Ganjar.[83]

Pornography controversy[edit]

I once accidentally clicked [the like button] and sent a porn video [to my twitter account]. “Mr. Ganjar, why are you watching a porn film?” Hey, if I’m watching porn films, where’s my fault? I’m an adult, am I right?

Ganjar Pranowo, interview with Deddy Corbuzier

In an interview with Deddy Corbuzier, Pranowo explained that he once accidentally shared a porn video to his Twitter account. When one of his followers asked him why he is watching the video,[84] Pranowo said, “Eh, if I watch porn where is the fault, I really like it. I am an adult and have a wife.” He continued, “Sometimes as an adult, it is necessary,” while stating that watching porn is mature and healthy.[85] “It’s ugly, I’m talking about the ITE Law (Electronic Information and Transactions Law),” he continued during the interview.

He elaborated sharing porn videos violates the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (UU ITE), not viewing them.[86] In relation to the statement, Ganjar recalled his experience giving a laptop to a student who admitted watching pornography during his visit to a school. Ganjar praised the student for his honesty and described him as having a leadership potential. “I said, if there is no teacher, that is wrong sex education,” Pranowo told the student, warning him that pornography shouldn’t be used as a guide in his own sex life.[87][85]

After the video of the interview went viral, Pranowo requested that those who commented about his statement should watch the full video instead.[88] He clarified that he was not a fan of porn videos and that the diction of several news pieces that reported him as a “porn addict” were outright wrong.[89]

Pranowo’s statement in the interview was criticized by various parties. Sinar Suprabana, a Central Javan academic, argued that Pranowo’s statements in the interview was unethical and it “would be better for him to shut up and take steps to improve himself” instead of “giving clarification”.[90] Muslim cleric Tengku Zulkarnain [id] stated that Pranowo couldn’t be a politician since he already watches porn.[91]

2023 U-20 World Cup[edit]

In March 2023, he called for a ban on the Israeli national football team from participating in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup hosted by Indonesia, including matches that were scheduled to be played in his province, Central Java.[92][93][94] Pranowo’s call for a boycott was in response to the Israeli government’s actions towards the Palestinian people, which he said “were a violation of human rights”.[95][96][97] The controversy surrounding Israel’s participation in the tournament resulted in governing body FIFA, stripping Indonesia of the hosting rights for the tournament, and that “possible” sanctions against the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) may be enforced.[98][99][100][101]

Personal life[edit]

Pranowo is married to Siti Atikah Supriyanti, the daughter of Akhmad Musodik Supriyadi and Astuti Supriyadi.[102] Akhmad is a Nahdlatul Ulama leader from Purbalingga, Central Java, and was the son of Kyai Hisyam Abdul Karim, founder of the Roudlotus Sholihin Islamic Boarding School in Sokawera Hamlet, Kalijaran Village, Karanganyar.[102] They met in 1994 and got married in 1999 and have one son together, Muhammad Zinedine Alam Ganjar (b. 2001), and has graduated SMAN 3 Semarang, Central Java in 2020 and is now a student of Universitas Gadjah Mada.[103][104]