Two potential successors of Indonesia’s outgoing President Joko Widodo have called on him to maintain neutrality in the run-up to the upcoming presidential election, amid concerns that he may be attempting to hold onto power after his tenure ends.
Presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo have urged President Jokowi to remain neutral as the February 14, 2024 election approaches. The election is also contested by Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who is running with the president’s son.
Concerns have arisen among democracy activists and political sources regarding what they perceive as President Jokowi’s efforts to retain power and establish a political dynasty. This apprehension heightened after a recent court ruling altered eligibility criteria, enabling the president’s eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to join Prabowo’s ticket.
Analysts warn that this political maneuvering could further entrench dynastic and patronage politics in a country that endured authoritarian rule for 32 years until 1998.
Prabowo, who holds a narrow lead in opinion polls, described Monday’s lunch as an “intimate” gathering. His spokesperson has not yet commented on the call for President Jokowi to remain neutral.
While President Jokowi has publicly declared that he will not interfere in the election, he has indirectly supported Prabowo by rallying his substantial support base to campaign for the candidate and by partnering his son with his former rival.
On Monday, President Jokowi also instructed regional leaders to maintain neutrality in the election. With consistently high approval ratings, he remains a significant influence in the upcoming election and is seen as a potential kingmaker, according to analysts.