Concerns over Jokowi and nepotism

Indonesian President Joko Widodo waves to the crowd as he rides in a horse-drawn carriage to the Presidential Palace during the ceremonial parade October 20, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia, during his swearing-in ceremony.

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A year before he leaves office as Indonesian president, Joko Widodo faces serious allegations that he founded a political dynasty through nepotism.

The 61-year-old, known at home as Jokowi, is expected to leave office in October 2024 after serving the maximum two terms as president.

But critics and analysts say the leader, who has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings throughout his nearly decade-long tenure, is trying to retain power through close family members. .

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 Feb. 14 general election under the right-wing Gerindra party.

This happened just days before the country changed the eligibility criteria for presidential or vice-presidential candidates, allowing people under the age of 40 to register for either other role if they have already held regional positions. Gibran is the mayor of Solo.

The Constitutional Court, chaired at the time by the president’s brother-in-law Anwar Usman, was widely criticized for changing the law, allowing Jokowi’s son to run in the election. The court’s ethics board has since ordered that Anwar be removed as chief justice after finding him guilty of ethics violations.

Most of those interviewed consider that this type of policy tends to give priority to family interests rather than the interests of society.

Kompas research and development

According to a mid-October poll 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.

“Most respondents consider that this type of policy tends to prioritize family interests over the interests of society,” Kompas said in a report. “It is therefore not surprising that more than half of the respondents in this poll expressed disagreement with the practice of dynastic politics.”

2. Youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep

Separately, Jokowi’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, was named chairman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) in September, days after officially becoming a party member.

The ISP, launched in 2018, focuses on young voters through issues such as women’s rights, pluralism and corruption. He hopes to gain seats in the House of Representatives for the first time in the upcoming elections.

3. Step-son, Bobby Nasution

Jokowi’s political spectrum is also joined by his son-in-law Bobby Nasution, the current mayor of Medan.

Jokowi is “trying to maintain his political influence through his sons and son-in-law, Medan Mayor Bobby Nasution,” said Julia Lau, senior researcher and co-coordinator of the Indonesian Studies program at the Institute. ISEAS-Yusof Ishak from Singapore.

Back home, Jokowi loyalists reportedly outragedReuters reported, saying ministers around him had accused him of seeking to cling to power through judicial interference and nepotism.

According to Reuters, Andi Widjajanto, once Jokowi’s right-hand man, resigned as governor of the National Resilience Agency after the Constitutional Court ruling. Andi, who called the timing of his resignation deliberate, said: “As someone who worked with Jokowi for a long time, I am very, very disappointed in him.”

A political dynasty?

These are “nepotic strategies”, said Vedi Hadiz, director and professor at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne.

Jokowi’s sons “are part of a larger plan” to form a political dynasty before he leaves office, he continued.

“The ascension of Kaesang Pangarep to the leadership of the PSI aims to help achieve the goal of victory of the Prabowo-Gibran couple, while the PSI has recently moved, also controversially, into Prabowo’s orbit .”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, second 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.

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Lau echoed the same sentiments.

“Kaesang, 28, is a political neophyte and he is following in his father’s footsteps,” she added, noting that 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 democracy, which emerged only 25 years ago after decades of authoritarian rule.

What is certain is that Widodo is playing a risky game in the last phase of his presidency.

Julia Lau

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

The Jokowi effect

Analysts now expect what they call “a Jokowi effect” for the PSI and Gerindra parties.

The choice of Gibran, Jokowi’s eldest son, “is a clear signal from the Prabowo camp to associate his presidential candidacy with the success of the programs and policies of the Jokowi era”, according to a research firm international. Asia House said in a report.

“Gibran’s nomination as vice-presidential candidate is likely to win votes in Prabowo in Central Java – where Jokowi’s family is from – and shift support from Jokowi’s supporters away from Ganjar and the PDIP towards the Prabowo 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 enjoys unusually high approval ratings for a two-term president.

“The idea is that popularity rubs off on Kaesang Pangarep and improves the PSI’s electoral performance,” explained Hadiz of the University of Melbourne.

“If done convincingly, the Jokowi family can effectively take full control of a political party. They have never had such control before given the Soekarno family’s hold on the PDIP,” he said. she declared, 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’ shift to other parties.

“While some interpret Gibran’s candidacy as evidence of Jokowi’s involvement in dynastic politics, it is also seen as a snub to the PDIP, the party that both supported Jokowi’s presidential bids and supported Gibran when “He ran for mayor,” Asia House said.


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