Indonesian Presidential Candidate Names Current President’s Son as Running Mate

Indonesian Presidential Candidate Names Current President’s Son as Running Mate

Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has named the son of President Joko Widodo as his vice-presidential candidate.

Prabowo, after reaching consensus among political party leaders backing him, chose Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, as his running mate despite Gibran’s absence during the announcement on Sunday. The eldest son of Jokowi, as the incumbent leader is known, hasn’t said whether he accepts the nomination.

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Prabowo, 72, said that he will register his candidacy on Wednesday, the final day that presidential and vice-presidential registrations are open.

The pairing could further solidify Jokowi’s political dynasty while shaking up alliances ahead of the Feb. 14 elections. If Gibran agrees to campaign alongside Prabowo, it may require him to leave the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle or PDI-P — of which Jokowi is a member — to support Prabowo’s Gerindra party. This could potentially worsen tensions between the president and his party leader.

Read More: What It Means for Indonesia’s Democracy That the President’s Son Now Leads Another Party

Gibran would mark several firsts if he secures official candidacy, made possible by a Constitutional Court ruling last week that grants exceptions to those with regional leadership to contest without meeting the minimum 40-year age requirement. Currently the mayor of Jokowi’s hometown of Solo, he would be the youngest vice-presidential candidate in the nation’s history. It would also be the first time that the scion of a sitting president is contesting for one of Indonesia’s two top offices.

Political Dynasty

Jokowi has repeatedly denied interfering in deciding the presidential and vice-presidential candidates as well as dismissing any notion of a political dynasty, saying that his role as a parent is only to support his children. Still, Gibran as vice president could allow Jokowi to play a key role in shaping the direction of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy beyond the end of his second and final term in October 2024.

At stake for Jokowi is his legacy, including the $34 billion new capital and a commodities refining push to propel Indonesia into a high-income economy by 2045. 

For Prabowo, having Jokowi’s son by his side could win over a few of the president’s supporters. The Prabowo-Gibran pairing has climbed in popularity in recent months to reach the top spot with 35.9% of support, far ahead of Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD at second place with 26.1%, according to an October poll by Lembaga Survei Indonesia.

Prabowo’s campaign also cleared a potential hurdle on Monday after the Constitutional Court dismissed petitions to set a maximum age limit of 70 years for presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

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