October 9, 2023
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on his grassroots supporters to keep the political temperature cool for the remainder of his presidency, moving to consolidate his nonparty political machine as the country enters the final year of his presidency.
As the end of his second and final term draws ever nearer, Jokowi has intensified efforts to rally his network of supporters’ groups, including thousands of die-hard supporters, which helped his meteoric rise to the country’s top post in 2014.
Speaking at a gathering of grassroots supporters calling themselves Alap-Alap Jokowi (Jokowi’s falcons) on Saturday in Sentul, West Java, the President called for stability and maintaining a cool political environment.
“I sometimes shake my head [at seeing] people still bickering while their leaders above [them] are already having coffee together,” Jokowi said.
“I ask for the help of all supporters so that supporters’ groups can act as a ‘cooling system’ to maintain a cool atmosphere at the grass roots,” he added.
Jokowi, who is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection next year, has been seeking to influence the hunt for his successor to ensure that his policy programs continue, even after he leaves office in October 2024.
The President has hinted his support for Ganjar Pranowo, the presumptive nominee of his party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), while also allow rival-turned-ally Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra Party to prop up his own election ambitions on the incumbent’s coattails.
Stressing the need for a bold and firm successor who could lead the country in navigating its growing future challenges, Jokowi reminded his supporters on Saturday to not be hasty in deciding who should lead the country after he steps down.
“Do we want a leader who only vies for the comfort of the State Palace, sitting in an air-conditioned room, [enjoying lavish food]?” Jokowi asked the gathering.
“We need a leader who dares to take risks for the people and the nation. We want to find leaders who are willing to work hard for their people,” he said. “So be careful in choosing [our] future leader. Our challenges ahead are not getting any easier.”
Also attending the event was the President’s youngest son Kaesang Pangarep, who was recently named as the chair of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) within days of joining the rival party to the PDI-P.
The PSI has teased its support for Prabowo’s presidential bid next year.
Analysts say the PSI has given Jokowi an alternative vehicle for his family to secure his political legacy and influence for when he leaves office, given his complicated relationship with PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri, who often regards him as a mere “party official”.
The President refrained from making a joint appearance with his son at Saturday’s event, however, amid growing criticism over his nascent political dynasty.
Kaesang was previously touted as a potential candidate for the West Java mayoralty of Depok by a local PDI-P branch, but the party elite insisted that he must first obtain a “proper” political education.
But that was before he became the first Widodo family member to break away from its traditional platform, the PDI-P. Observers took this as an indication that Jokowi and Megawati were now at odds with each other as they competed for the kingmaker role in the 2024 simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, as well as the regional elections.