May 23, 2023
JAKARTA – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) summons of Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka for clarification over his meeting with Gerindra Party-backed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto is indicative of the growing unease between the ruling party and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The PDI-P decided not to sanction Gibran, the eldest son of Jokowi, over the controversy, which came amid a growing contingent of the President’s supporter groups pledging support for Prabowo in the 2024 presidential race over the PDI-P’s own candidate, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
Jokowi is a member of the PDI-P, and he and the party have enjoyed a fruitful relationship stretching back to when the President made his foray into politics as the mayor of Surakarta, Central Java, in 2005. While Gibran already made his name as an entrepreneur, he eventually followed in Jokowi’s footsteps after being elected as Surakarta mayor in 2020, with the backing of the PDI-P.
The President’s popularity, and that of his family, continues to grow, however, political analyst Bawono Kumoro of pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia believes that the party is becoming wary of the President’s growing influence, which is starting to rival that of the PDI-P itself.
“The PDI-P is being careful here, as they’ve taken into account Jokowi’s unique position,” Bawono told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
“Jokowi might simply be a member of PDI-P according to chairwoman [Megawati Soekarnoputri], and Gibran is still a political newcomer, but the party looks to be reluctant [to take a decisive stance] on Jokowi’s family.”
Gibran raised eyebrows after meeting with Defense Minister Prabowo during the latter’s visit to Surakarta on Friday as several Jokowi-Gibran supporter groups declared their support for Prabowo. Kuat Hermawan, coordinator for a Gibran supporter group that was present during the declaration, said that the Surakarta mayor helped arrange the impromptu meeting between Prabowo and the groups, Kompas daily reported.
Gibran previously insisted that he was there, in his capacity as mayor of Surakarta, simply to welcome the minister to the city, and not as an endorsement of Prabowo’s candidacy.
The PDI-P central board summoned Gibran to the party’s headquarters in Jakarta on Monday for clarification of the controversy but chose to let Gibran off without any sanctions.
The signs of an uneasy relationship did not just come from the PDI-P, as members of the President’s family have repeatedly shown their affinity for Prabowo, even after the PDI-P formalized its support for Ganjar in April. Earlier this month, Kaesang Pangarep, Gibran’s younger brother who is reportedly considering a political career of his own, wore a Prabowo T-shirt in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel.
While the PDI-P’s reasoning behind its soft stance on Gibran relates to the fact that the meeting was the result of maneuvering from outside the party, political analyst Ujang Komarudin said that the meeting would not have occurred without the blessing of Jokowi.
“It’s impossible for Gibran or Kaesang to take these actions without the blessing of their father,” Ujang told the Post on Monday. “They’re the President’s children, and all of their political gestures will be dissected by the whole of Indonesia and the President [is fully aware of this].”
But more damning evidence lies in Jokowi’s reluctance to endorse Ganjar during the Musyawarah Rakyat (Musra), or people’s discussion, an event attended by thousands of Jokowi supporters on May 14 even as Prabowo continues to siphon Jokowi supporters away from Ganjar.
“If the President had already made up his mind to support the PDI-P and Ganjar, he could’ve simply mentioned his name during the Musra,” Bawono said. “Before the declaration, people would have understood if he couldn’t mention Ganjar by name, but now we already have Megawati giving her formal endorsement.”
Since August 2022, the President’s supporters have held more than 20 similar events across the country, and this series of Musra eventually settled on three preferred figures for his successor. Both Ganjar and Prabowo are among those figures, with Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto completing the list.
An Indikator survey released last week showed that support for Ganjar among the President’s supporters is still the strongest compared with other presidential candidates. Among respondents who voted for Jokowi in 2019, 54.9 percent said they would vote for Ganjar if the election were to be held today.
Over 24 percent of respondents expressed their support for Prabowo, Jokowi’s rival in 2014 and 2019, while 13.3 percent voted for NasDem Party-backed former Jakarta governor and opposition figure Anies Baswedan.
However, a growing contingent of Jokowi supporter groups have declared their support for Prabowo in the past few months.
Having originally endorsed Ganjar, supporter group Jokowi Mania (Joman) rescinded its support for the Central Java governor in February, shifting to Prabowo instead. Now named Prabowo Mania, its chairman Immanuel Ebenezer made the bold claim that 90 percent of Jokowi’s supporters are ready to support Prabowo, kompas.tv reported.
The latest arrived on Friday as 15 Jokowi-Gibran supporter groups from Central Java and East Java formally endorsed Prabowo, with the defense minister and Gibran witnessing their declaration.