Indonesian President Joko Widodo waves to the crowd as he heads to the Presidential Palace by carriage during the ceremonial parade on October 20, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia, as he took the oath of office.
Ulet Ifansasti | Getty Images News | fake images
A year before he resigns as president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo faces serious accusations of having established a political dynasty through nepotism.
The 61-year-old, known at home as Jokowi, will leave office in October 2024, after completing the maximum two terms as president.
But critics and analysts say the leader, who has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings during his nearly decade-long rule, is attempting to retain power through members of his close family.
1. Eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka
Last month, his eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, was officially named Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto’s vice presidential running mate for the February 14 general election under the right-wing Gerindra Party.
This came just days before the country changed the eligibility criteria for presidential or vice-presidential candidates, allowing people under 40 to register for either role if they previously held regional positions. Gibran is the mayor of Solo.
The constitutional court, which at the time was headed by the president’s brother-in-law Anwar Usman, was widely criticized for changing the law, allowing Jokowi’s son to participate in the election. The court’s ethics council has since ordered Anwar removed from his position as chief justice after finding him guilty of ethics violations.
According to a survey conducted in mid-October by Kompas Research and Development, 60.7% of respondents consider the participation of Jokowi’s eldest son, Gibran, in the elections as a form of dynastic politics.
“The majority of respondents consider that this type of policy tends to prioritize family interests over the interests of society,” Kompas said in a report. “It is not surprising, therefore, that more than half of the respondents in this survey expressed their disagreement with the practice of dynastic politics.”
2. Youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep
Separately, Jokowi’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, was named president of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) in September, just days after officially becoming a member of the party.
ISP, which launched in 2018, focuses on young voters through issues such as women’s rights, pluralism and corruption. It hopes to win seats in the House of Representatives for the first time in the next election.
3. Son-in-law, Bobby Nasution
His son-in-law Bobby Nasution, current mayor of Medan, also joins Jokowi’s political board.
Jokowi is “trying to retain political influence through his children and son-in-law, Medan Mayor Bobby Nasution,” said Julia Lau, senior researcher and co-coordinator of the Indonesian Studies Program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. from Singapore.
At home, Jokowi loyalists are reportedly outraged, Reuters reported, saying that cabinet ministers within his inner circle have accused him of trying to cling to power through judicial interference and nepotism.
According to Reuters, Andi Widjajanto, who was once Jokowi’s right-hand man, resigned from his position as governor of the National Resilience Agency after the constitutional court ruling. Calling the timing of his resignation deliberate, Andi said: “As someone who worked with Jokowi for a long time, I am very, very disappointed in him.”
A political dynasty?
These are “nepotistic strategies,” said Vedi Hadiz, director and professor at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne.
Jokowi’s children are “part of a larger plan” to form a political dynasty before he leaves office, he continued.
“The rise of Kaesang Pangarep to the leadership of the PSI is aimed at helping achieve the goal of achieving victory for the Prabowo-Gibran pair, as the PSI has moved, also controversially, into Prabowo’s orbit lately.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, second from right, with his wife Iriana Widodo and sons Gibran Rakbuming Raka, far left, and Kaesang Pangarep, far right, participating in the traditional wedding ceremony in preparation for the wedding of Jokowi’s daughter in Solo, Central. Java on November 7, 2017.
Afp contributor | afp | fake images
Lau echoed the same sentiments.
“Kaesang, 28, is a political neophyte and follows in his father’s footsteps,” he added, highlighting how the PSI has now become “a vehicle to channel the aspirations of the Widodo clan.”
CNBC contacted Indonesia’s presidential palace for comment but did not receive a response.
These developments do not bode well for the country’s already fragile state of democracy, which emerged only 25 years ago after decades of authoritarian rule.
It also weighs heavily on Jokowi’s reputation. The former furniture salesman captured national hearts when he became the country’s first leader who did not come from a political or military background, raising hopes of a pushback against elitist-led systems.
But as their children ascend the political ladder, critics are now drawing comparisons to existing political dynasties in Southeast Asia.
“Many liberals and intellectuals in Indonesia are now calling for a deeper look at the corruption and weakening of various democratic institutions in the country, its constitutional court, the anti-corruption commission, etc., that has occurred under Widodo,” Lau said. from ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.
Following his team’s failed attempts to extend Jokowi’s mandate, he said, “this latest series of moves appears to be their way of trying to gain permanent control for themselves, but it may well backfire.”
“What is certain is that Widodo is playing a risky game in the last phase of his presidency,” Lau added.
The ‘Jokowi effect’
Analysts now expect what they call “a Jokowi effect” for the PSI and Gerindra parties.
The election of Gibran, Jokowi’s eldest son, “is a clear signal by Prabowo’s camp to associate his presidential candidacy with the successes of the programs and policies of the Jokowi era,” the research firm said in a report. global Asia House.
“Gibran’s nomination as their vice presidential candidate is likely to win votes for Prabowo from Central Java, where Jokowi’s family is from, and shift support from Jokowi’s supporters from Ganjar and PDIP to Prabowo’s camp.”
The PDIP, or Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, is the country’s ruling party.
The PSI is also seeking to capitalize on the popularity of Jokowi, who has unusually high approval ratings for a two-term president.
“The idea is that the popularity will rub off on Kaesang Pangarep and improve the PSI’s electoral performance,” explained Hadiz of the University of Melbourne.
“If that is achieved convincingly, the Jokowi family can effectively take full control of a political party. They never had such control before given the control that the Soekarno family had over the PDIP,” he said, referring to Indonesia’s first president.
Meanwhile, the PDIP is increasingly distancing itself from Jokowi. His relationship with PDIP president Megawati Sukarnoputri is now under pressure following her sons’ turn to other parties.
“While some interpret Gibran’s candidacy as evidence of Jokowi’s involvement in dynastic politics, it is also perceived as a snub to the PDIP, the party that supported Jokowi’s presidential candidacies and backed Gibran when he ran for mayor,” he said. AsiaHouse.