Jokowi dynasty sets sights on another mayoral post

The President said he had given the nod for his youngest son to follow in his footsteps after he announced his willingness to run for mayor.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


A YouTube clip shows President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo poking fun at his son Kaesang Pangarep’s haircut.(YouTube/@kaesangp/-)

June 15, 2023

JAKARTA – Constitutionally barred from running for another term, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is set to end his tenure as the nation’s top leader next year, but he may not truly leave the political world, as a dynasty solidifies around him that could extend his reach for years to come.

The President said on Wednesday he had given the nod for his youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, an entrepreneur, YouTuber and soccer club owner, to follow in his footsteps in politics after the latter announced his willingness to run for mayor of Depok, West Java, over the weekend.

“The job of parents is to give their blessing to and pray for [their children],” Jokowi said on Wednesday when asked whether he had given his youngest son the green light to enter politics.

Jokowi said Kaesang and his other children bore the responsibility of making their own decisions.

“I am used to [a tradition in which, when] I have children who are married, the responsibility [of making decisions] falls on them. If I am asked, I will definitely give advice. But if I’m not asked, I won’t give advice,” the President said.

After much speculation over whether he would enter a regional contest in 2024, Kaesang said in a short video published on his YouTube channel, “With the blessing of my family, I, Kaesang Pangarep, am ready to be Depok’s number one man.”

Depok, a satellite city of Jakarta, is considered a bastion of politically conservative Islam, with a Setara Institute report published in April naming the city the second least-tolerant city in all of Indonesia. The Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has maintained a stranglehold over the region for the past 15 years, with PKS-backed candidates winning the four previous mayoral elections.

Read also: PSI puts up roadside poster supporting Kaesang bid for Depok mayor

The President’s youngest son first hinted at his interest in politics in January during a private family lunch at Jokowi’s private residence in Surakarta in January, according to comments by his brother, Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to local media.

If Kaesang runs for mayor of Depok, he would join a number of Jokowi’s family members who have run for public office, including his older brother, Gibran, and Jokowi’s son-in-law, Bobby Nasution, who won the mayorship of Surakarta and Medan, respectively, in the 2020 regional elections.

A gubernatorial bid in either Jakarta or Central Java, which are generally seen as springboards to the presidency, is thought to be in the cards for Gibran, the first of Jokowi’s family members to enter politics and who has seen his stock rise following a string of meetings with the nation’s political elites.

Bobby could also mount a challenge for the governorship of North Sumatra, as the 31-year-old is currently seeking to rally support from the political parties that backed him in 2010, namely the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Gerindra Party, the NasDem Partly, the Golkar Party and the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP).

It is still unclear whether Kaesang will run on the PDI-P ticket, the party of his father and brother.

Read also: PDI-P considering Jokowi’s youngest son for Depok mayoral bid

Alongside numerous expressions of support and invitations from other parties, the PDI-P has welcomed Kaesang’s aspiration for the mayorship and has said it will consider nominating him if he decides to join the party’s ranks. The PDI-P requires the family members of a party member to be of the same political party.

“I think Kaesang could do well in Depok city. The PDI-P will consider it,” said Puan Maharani, the daughter of PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri, on the sidelines of the party’s national working meeting last week.

Jokowi is currently riding a wave popularity as the end of his presidency nears. The course of his dynasty, however, remains uncertain, as its members lack exclusive command of any major political party.

scroll to top