10/25/2023, 16.34
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Anger and concern in Indonesia over the candidacy of Jokowi's son

by Mathias Hariyadi

After registering with the General Election Commission today, Gibran Rakabuming Raka will run with Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, who has ties with the family of former dictator Suharto. Voting is set for 14 February, but several experts point to a weakening of democracy in recent years. For many, it is still unclear what President Joko Widodo’s aim.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The third and final pair of candidates to run in Indonesia's presidential elections registered with the country's General Election Commission today; Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and Surakarta[*] Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka are running respectively for president and vice president.

Mr Raka is the son of outgoing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who cannot run for a third term. He has been backed in his political career by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Indonesia’s largest party; however, the latter is running its own candidates.

Subianto's decision to pick Raka as his running mate has sparked anger and concern that a new political dynasty is being created in Southeast Asia.

Jokowi's son, who is 36, has been in politics for only three years. He is able to run in the presidential race by a decision of the Constitutional Court to allow candidates under 40 if they had been already elected to regional office.

The court is chaired by Raka’s uncle who is married to the outgoing president's younger sister. As a result, it has been dubbed the “family court”.

In addition, Jokowi's son-in-law, Bobby Nasution, is also a mayor, and last September, the president's youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, was appointed head of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI a few days after joining it.

General Prabowo Subianto too is a controversial figure. He has been blamed for violence in the disputed Papua province and is alleged to have committed serious human rights violations by seizing pro-democracy activists protesting against Suharto's dictatorship before its fall in 1998.

Subianto was also married to Suharto's second daughter, whom he divorced that year during the political crisis.

Many fear that if the Subianto-Raka ticket wins on 14 February, power at the national level will once again return to the "Cendana family”, a moniker that refers to the Suharto clan.

The other two main presidential candidates are Anies Baswedan, an independent and a former governor of Jakarta, and Ganjar Pranowo, the former governor of Central Java, who is running for the PDI-P.

The latest polls suggest that Subianto has a slight lead over Pranowo, while Baswedan is far behind.

It is not yet entirely clear why Jokowi is backing his son's candidacy. Some observers think that his son’s election would ensure that his policies would be completed.

Others suggest that the worsening of personal relations between Jokowi and PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, a former president and the daughter of the first president of the country, Sukarno, is the main cause.

Subianto and Raka are supported by a coalition of opposition parties.

The lead-up to the 2024 election marks a sharp decline in democracy in Indonesia, which is sliding into “oligarchy, dynastic politics and corruption,” this according to philosopher Franz Magnis-Suseno.

In his view, corruption has never been as widespread as it is now, adding that in the last 20 years at least 13 ministers have been investigated in connection with corruption cases, as well as hundreds of officials at various levels.

[*] Surakarta is also known as Solo and is located in Central Java.

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