Ahead of Indonesia’s 2024 national polls, Jokowi’s son named youth party chair

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s son was on Monday named chief of a political party, a move many analysts view as strengthening the outgoing leader’s bid to build a political dynasty ahead of elections next year.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, will complete his second and final term in office next year, but his manoeuvres to install his relatives in positions of political influence have raised eyebrows in a country that only 25 years ago broke free of authoritarian rule.

When he took the top job in 2014, Widodo, a former furniture salesman, had won praise for his meteoric rise through a landscape dominated by military and moneyed elite and political dynasties.

Kaesang Pangarep married Erina Gudono on December 9, 2022. Photo: Facebook

However, political analysts say he has in recent years tried to ensure a legacy of continuing influence through his children.

His oldest son now leads the city of Solo, where Widodo himself was once mayor, while his son-in-law is the mayor of Medan.

The youth-oriented Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) late on Monday named Kaesang Pangarep, 28, as chair.

Kaesang paid tribute to Widodo in a speech.

“I’d like to forge his path in politics for the good,” he said.

Though PSI is a small party established only in 2014 and is not represented in parliament, its young and social media-savvy members can play a vital role in galvanising support for its preferred candidate in the February 2024 presidential election.

According to opinion polls, Ganjar Pranowo, a regional politician backed by Widodo’s own party PDI-P is a favourite for the presidency, while former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto is a close second and ex-governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan a distant third.

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Arya Fernandes, an analyst who heads the politics department at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said political dynasties have become a more prominent phenomenon in Indonesia and Kaesang’s appointment reflected Widodo’s changing nature as his presidency draws to an end.

“There have been many Jokowi’s political decisions that were seen as undemocratic, including…in political dynasty” he said.

When asked about Kaesang’s membership in the PSI, Widodo said last week his children’s political careers were their decision to make.

Political dynasties are common in Indonesia.

During the 32-year rule of strongman president Suharto, his eldest son served as a cabinet minister. The daughter of its founding father, Megawati Sukarnoputri has served as president and leads the biggest political party in parliament, while her daughter is the speaker of the house.

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