02/05/2024, 17.10
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Indonesians to vote amid the 'Gibran case' controversy

by Mathias Hariyadi

Outgoing President Joko Widodo is in the crosshairs of the Elections Commission for changes to the law that will allow his son to run for vice-president. While legal, it is ethically wrong. Meanwhile, Prabowo Subianto is favoured to win in the 14 February election.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A few days before Indonesia’s general elections on 14 February, the Election Organisers Honours Board (DKPP)[*] issued a ruling today on the candidacy of Gibran Rakabuming, the eldest son of outgoing President Joko Widodo, who is running for the post of vice president alongside Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, who is favoured to win.

The DKPP accuses the chairman of the General Elections Commission (KPU)[†], Hasyim Asy'ari, of violating the rules of ethical conduct, and the KPU’S move as ethically wrong; despite this, it accepts the candidacy of Surakarta Mayor Gibran, 36, as legitimate from a legal point of view.

The Indonesian Constitutional Court deliberately changed the rules of the game by allowing potential candidates under the age of 40 to run for the office of president or vice president.

According to the DKPP, Asy'ari should have consulted with parliament and the government on this decision, especially since the chief justice on the Constitutional Court was Anwar Usman, Joko Widodo's brother-in-law.

Meanwhile, Gibran's candidacy has sparked a wave of protests, especially on Java university campuses, with scholars from Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University (UGM)[‡] leading the way.

The Association of Catholic Colleges (APTIK)[§] also joined the protest, saying Jokowi should morally abide by his presidential oath, and respect ethical principles while still in power as head of state and government.

The 2019 presidential election was marred by identity politics dividing Indonesian society along nationalist and religious fundamentalist lines.

Surprisingly, this was not the case in the current election campaign. None of the three eligible presidential candidates – Prabowo Subianto, Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan – have used this approach to gain support among their most ardent followers.

Something did change, however, when followers of former President Megawati Soekarnoputri publicly exposed Joko Widodo's “family dealings”, pointing the finger at the enormous influence First Lady Iriana has had on Gibran's candidacy.

Although the spat between pro- and anti-Jokowi found wide echo on social media, for many voters, especially in Jakarta, this controversy will not affect their vote.

Whoever is elected president next week is set to take office in October 2024.

[*] Dewan Kehormatan Penyelenggara Pemilu.

[†] Komisi Pemilihan Umum.

[‡] Universitas Gadjah Mada.

[§] Asosiasi Perguruan Tinggi AKatolik.

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