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Jokowi’s Bold Gamble: Son’s Political Rise Is a Shocking Move

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Jokowi’s Bold Gamble: Son’s Political Rise Is a Shocking Move

Loophole in Indonesia’s Election Laws Allows President’s Son to Participate

The decision of the Indonesian Constitutional Court to open a loophole that allows President Joko Widodo’s son to participate in the upcoming presidential election has sparked controversy and criticism. The court’s ruling, seen by many as a momentous occasion in national jurisprudence, has raised concerns about nepotism and dynasty-building in Indonesian politics.

Background

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the 36-year-old son of President Joko Widodo, was recently elected mayor of Solo, his father’s hometown. Speculation has been rife throughout the year about whether Gibran would join Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto’s presidential ticket. Such a move would not only secure Prabowo’s position as a successor endorsed by the popular outgoing president but also strengthen Gibran’s future prospects for the presidency.

The Push for Gibran’s Candidacy

Prabowo actively advocated for Gibran’s candidacy, aiming to gain Jokowi’s support by presenting himself as a reliable ally. Initially skeptical about Gibran’s chances on the national stage and wary of accusations of nepotism, Jokowi eventually embraced the idea with great enthusiasm.

The Constitutional Court’s Ruling

However, the 2017 election laws prohibited individuals under the age of 40 from contesting in presidential elections. Three lawsuits were filed in the Constitutional Court, seeking to lower the age limit or exempt citizens with previous government experience. The court dismissed the first two cases, but in a surprising twist, it decided in favor of the third case, introducing a new loophole that exempted individuals with previous elected office experience from the age limit.

Criticism and Controversy

The court’s decision, considered to be tailor-made for Gibran’s vice-presidential candidacy, was met with widespread criticism. Critics pointed out that the court’s chief justice is the president’s brother-in-law and Gibran’s uncle, raising concerns about judicial activism in support of dynastic politics. Critics also accused Jokowi of circumventing the laws to promote his son’s political career.

Electoral Strategy

Gibran’s appointment as Prabowo’s running mate carries a certain electoral logic. Prabowo’s success in the 2024 elections relies heavily on maintaining his voter base from the 2019 campaign while making inroads among Jokowi voters in the Javanese heartland, where Ganjar Pranowo, another presidential candidate, is dominant. Although Jokowi is affiliated with the same political party as Ganjar, he has made minimal efforts to support his candidacy. Instead, Jokowi believes that Prabowo is more independent and receptive to his post-presidential lobbying. By endorsing Gibran as Prabowo’s running mate, Jokowi expects his loyal supporters to shift their allegiance to Prabowo.

Possible Repercussions

While the alliance with Prabowo and Gibran might secure Jokowi’s future influence, it could also backfire. Prabowo, currently considered the frontrunner, may face criticism during the long campaign, with opponents attacking him for perpetuating dynastic politics. Additionally, openly aligning with the Widodos might alienate anti-Jokowi factions rallying behind underdog candidate Anies Baswedan, whose support would be crucial in a runoff election.

The Jokowi-PDI-P Alliance

For Jokowi’s party, PDI-P, the alliance with Gibran, a fellow party member, would be seen as a betrayal by Jokowi. However, a complete split between PDI-P and its president is not guaranteed, as both parties are currently in a “mutual hostage situation.” While Jokowi needs PDI-P for stability in his final year in office, the party relies on Jokowi’s popularity for the upcoming legislative elections in February 2024.

Jokowi’s Bold Move

Jokowi’s support for his son’s vice-presidential nomination represents a significant shift in the power dynamics between Jokowi and PDI-P during his presidency. Initially, Jokowi faced strife with the party and its chairwoman, former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, over policy and personnel decisions. However, Jokowi’s high approval ratings and broad elite support have emboldened him to make audacious moves, such as endorsing his son’s candidacy with PDI-P’s major rival.

The Risk of Dynasty-Building

Jokowi’s decision to involve his son in the presidential race raises the personal stakes for the 2024 elections. It could either secure a long-lasting position for the Widodo family in Indonesian politics or expose Jokowi to the ambivalence of the electorate towards dynastic politics. Despite the rise of political dynasties in other countries, Indonesia’s dynasticism remains relatively localized and vulnerable to defeat by non-dynastic rivals.

In conclusion, the Constitutional Court’s ruling has opened a controversial loophole in Indonesia’s election laws, allowing President Jokowi’s son, Gibran, to participate in the upcoming presidential election. The move has sparked criticism and raised concerns about nepotism and dynasty-building in Indonesian politics. Furthermore, supporting Gibran’s candidacy carries both electoral advantages and potential drawbacks for both Jokowi and Prabowo. The final outcome of the 2024 elections will determine the future political landscape in Indonesia.

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