Indonesian Leader’s Son Granted Opportunity to Pursue Vice Presidency: A Game-Changer in the Political Landscape

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that politicians under 40 years old can run for president and vice president in the 2024 elections. The decision, backed by the court’s chief judge, the brother-in-law of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, could allow Jokowi’s eldest son to contest the race as a vice-presidential candidate while his father prepares to leave office due to term limits. Pro-Jokowi volunteers have endorsed Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto for his 2024 presidential candidacy.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Jokowi’s 36-year-old son and mayor of Solo, is being floated as a potential running mate for Prabowo and Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Central Java. The court amended Indonesia’s current election law to allow exceptions for candidates who have served as members of legislative councils or regional heads at the provincial or city level, regardless of their age. The court partially granted the request in a petition filed by a university student who claimed Gibran inspired him. Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s most populous democracy, is known for corruption and nepotism at all levels of government.

The Constitutional Court of the Philippines has ruled in favor of a petition by a university student from Jokowi’s hometown, Solo, who sought to lower the minimum age for candidates to 21. The ruling was supported by five of the nine judges, including the chief judge, but the remaining four cast dissenting opinions. The court had previously rejected similar petitions by ruling that the age limit was the prerogative of the legislature. Some legal experts and activists have criticized the ruling as showing favoritism towards Jokowi’s family and undermining the democratic process. Feri Amsari, a constitutional law expert from Andalas University, criticized the move as a dangerous political move. Hendardi, who leads Setara Institute, said the ruling was intended to keep Jokowi’s family in power and make it easier for his son to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jokowi has not met his son for months and has insisted that he did not meddle in the elections.

Indonesian President Jokowi has denied interference in presidential or vice-presidential candidates’ affairs and has urged questions about the Constitutional Court’s ruling to be directed at the judges. Jokowi’s son, Kaesang Pangarep, has been appointed as the chair of the Indonesian Solidarity Party. The presidential election is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2024, and is expected to be a three-way race between Prabowo, Ganjar, and Anies Baswedan, an ex-governor of Jakarta. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) has nominated Ganjar for the position.

Analysts have noted that Jokowi’s relationship with PDIP has deteriorated in recent months, with supporters pressuring him to endorse a successor who can continue his policies and programs. A survey conducted by the Polling Institute showed Prabowo topped the list of presidential candidates with 36.5%, followed by Ganjar with 31.2%, and Anies with 18.7%. The court’s ruling came two days after the vast volunteer network of Jokowi, known as Projo, declared its support for Prabowo’s presidential run at the group’s national meeting in Jakarta.

Indonesian President Jokowi has agreed to support Prabowo Subianto as the presidential candidate in the 2024 election, following a constitutional court ruling. Projo volunteers helped Jokowi defeat Prabowo in the 2014 and 2019 elections. The ruling, which was binding, has been criticized for its political character and dissenting opinions from judges. Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, deputy chairman of Prabowo’s Gerindra party, declined to comment on the possibility of Gibran being paired with Prabowo. The court ruling opens up opportunities for regional heads under 40, according to him.

IndonesiaIndonesia Constitutional CourtIndonesian Leader's Son Granted Opportunity to Pursue Vice Presidency: A Game-Changer in the Political Landscape