Gibran, Son of the President, Youth Representative or Dynasty Politics?
The recent announcement of Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the son of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as a vice-presidential candidate alongside Prabowo Subianto, has sent shockwaves through the country’s political landscape. This move raises important questions about democracy, dynastic politics, and the representation of young people in Indonesia’s political arena.
The Indonesian democracy, which has been thriving since the Reformation movement in 1998, has always struggled to strike a balance between the ideals of pure democracy and the allure of centralized power. Jokowi himself emerged as a champion of grassroots democracy, going from a furniture entrepreneur to the Mayor of Solo, and eventually becoming the President of Indonesia. His rise to power highlighted the narrative that anyone, regardless of their background, can aspire to hold the highest office in the country.
However, with the emergence of Gibran, there has been a subtle shift. While the young mayor of Solo undoubtedly carries political weight, being the son of a sitting president confers an advantage that other candidates can’t match. This becomes even more evident when we see Gibran enjoying the full support of Gabungan Indonesia Maju (KIM), a political coalition led by his father.
This development raises an interesting point: with Gibran’s nomination as a vice-presidential candidate, the impartiality and credibility of President Jokowi will be put to the test. The integrity of the electoral process is potentially at risk, leading to concerns about the possibility of Jokowi using state resources to support his son’s political ambitions.
The Constitutional Court’s decision to lower the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, provided they have experience as regional leaders, is seen by many as a nod to Indonesia’s young and dynamic population. By 2024, 60% of the electorate will be millennials and Gen Z, a demographic that politicians cannot afford to ignore. This change was initiated by the Indonesian Solidarity Party, led by Kaesang Pangarep, Gibran’s younger brother.
However, the fact that the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court is Jokowi’s brother-in-law has led to allegations of nepotism and political dynasties. Gibran’s candidacy can be perceived as an attempt to bridge the generation gap and a manifestation of family and political influence.
Throughout history, youth movements in Indonesia have played a transformative role. The 1928 Youth Pledge, for example, served as both a declaration and a catalyst in the fight against colonialism. Similarly, the Reformation movement positioned the youth at the forefront, challenging the status quo.
When comparing these genuine grassroots movements to Gibran’s candidacy, one may question whether the spirit of youth representation remains intact. However, it is crucial to protect and empower the representation of young people in a way that goes beyond mere tokenism. In order to truly represent the aspirations, challenges, and hopes of the youth, candidates must genuinely understand and voice their concerns, regardless of their age.
Gibran’s candidacy runs the risk of being seen as a strategic move, exploiting his youth to appeal to young voters without necessarily representing their genuine aspirations. The Constitutional Court’s decision to lower the age limit, closely followed by Gibran’s nomination, has fueled skepticism, as it raises concerns about the manipulation of legal provisions for political gain.
This perceived misstep by Prabowo and his coalition, motivated by strategic considerations rather than public sentiment, has led to increased scrutiny of Gibran’s candidacy. Many view this move as less about bridging the generation gap and more about consolidating power, reinforcing perceptions of nepotism.
Prabowo Subianto, being an experienced politician and former defense minister, has experienced the highs and lows of Indonesian politics. Despite unsuccessful attempts to run for vice president and president in previous elections, Prabowo’s resilience cannot be underestimated. This makes his strategic alliance with Gibran, the son of his former political opponent, all the more intriguing.
By joining forces with Gibran, Prabowo aims to combine Gerindra’s strong political and economic agenda with the appeal of the young mayor of Solo. This coalition represents more than just a political alliance; it signifies the ever-changing dynamics of Indonesian politics, where past rivalries can be set aside for future gains.
The decision of Prabowo and his coalition to support Gibran was not a mere result of political convenience; it was a carefully calculated gamble. But why Gibran? On the surface, this coalition seeks to leverage the network of power, resources, and grassroots support that has made Jokowi successful. However, the political landscape is often more intricate than it appears.
While this move may seem advantageous, it also carries significant risks. Partnering with Gibran could potentially tarnish Jokowi’s legacy. The perceived specter of dynastic politics, combined with Gibran’s image of privilege, could alienate the urban middle class and the floating masses. These demographics, previously strong supporters of Jokowi, may redirect their support to figures like Anies Baswedan or Ganjar Pranowo.
Additionally, such partisanship may lead to a loss of votes from Jokowi’s traditional support base and Prabowo’s loyalists. Many of Prabowo’s loyal supporters from the 2014 and 2019 elections, who were opposed to Jokowi, may lean towards Anies Baswedan. Given Anies’ consistent positioning as the antithesis of Jokowi, and his focus on change rather than continuity, he may resonate more with these voters than Ganjar or Prabowo.
Jokowi’s strategic moves hint at a deeper motivation: the desire to solidify his legacy. However, one must question whether preserving this legacy is worth the potential isolation within the PDIP, Jokowi’s political party. This complex political game positions Gibran not merely as a pawn or a knight, but as Jokowi’s proxy stronghold, strategically placed for the 2024-2029 presidential term.
For Gibran, the stakes are personal. He harbors a strong ambition for power and understands the risks associated with family ties in politics. The experience of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY), the son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, serves as a cautionary tale. In 2017, AHY ran for the Jakarta governorship, but his ambitions were hindered, arguably due to his father no longer holding the reins of power.
Gibran finds himself in a similar position; if he considers running for governor or vice president once his father’s term ends, he may face disadvantages without the protective shadow of his father’s office. This realization adds a sense of urgency to his current political endeavors. Failure now, while his father is still in power, could hamper any future opportunities for Gibran to climb the political ladder. It’s a delicate balancing act, where Gibran must ensure the credibility of his political ideals and gain the trust of the electorate.
However, the real test for Gibran lies ahead. As a vice-presidential candidate, he must prove that he is more than just Jokowi’s son. While his position as the mayor of Solo has marked a turning point in his political career, the challenges at the national level are far greater. From foreign policy to economic decision-making, from managing religious complexities to addressing the diverse aspirations of the archipelago, this role demands more than youthful enthusiasm. It requires maturity, wisdom, and the ability to rise above the privilege of his family background.
In summary, the ongoing political narrative in Indonesia, exemplified by Gibran’s rise, is not a mere nomination; it’s a high-stakes gamble for Indonesian democracy. The convergence of Jokowi and Prabowo’s political power to promote younger faces in the vice presidency may appear progressive on the surface. However, upon closer examination, this risks turning youth representation into a political ploy aimed at consolidating power rather than representing the genuine aspirations of young people. If successful, this strategy could set a dangerous precedent for the future of Indonesian democracy, where age becomes a cover for political gain, and authentic representation is sidelined.
Indonesia is at a critical juncture where the issues of dynastic politics, youth representation, and democratic ideals intersect. Young voters play a crucial role in this narrative, tasked with discerning between genuine representation and political maneuvering. It is imperative for the future of Indonesian democracy to ensure that its young people are authentically represented and not used as pawns in a larger political game.
The future of the country depends on preserving the essence of democracy and not letting strategic and dynastic plays overshadow it.
Q: Is Gibran’s nomination for vice president a result of political dynasties?
A: Gibran’s nomination has raised concerns about political dynasties and nepotism in Indonesian politics. While his candidacy may be seen as a strategic move to consolidate power, it risks overshadowing the representation of young people and undermining the essence of democracy.
Q: How will Gibran’s nomination impact Jokowi’s legacy?
A: Gibran’s nomination carries both risks and rewards for Jokowi’s legacy. While it may leverage the network and resources that have made Jokowi successful, it also risks alienating key demographics and tarnishing Jokowi’s image by reinforcing perceptions of dynastic politics.
Q: What are the challenges that Gibran faces as a vice-presidential candidate?
A: As a vice-presidential candidate, Gibran must prove that he is more than just Jokowi’s son. He needs to demonstrate maturity, wisdom, and the ability to rise above his family privilege. From foreign policy to economic decision-making, he must navigate complex issues and address the diverse aspirations of the Indonesian people.