‘Jokowi has left us’: PDI-P parts ways with First Family

Following weeks of protracted speculation of failing ties between Jokowi and the PDI-P, party secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto aired the party's grievances in a press statement on Oct 29, 2023.

Dio Suhenda and Yerica Lai

Dio Suhenda and Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) speaks with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri (center) during a PDI-P national meeting in Jakarta on June 6, 2023. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

October 30, 2023

JAKARTA – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has given its clearest sign yet that it is ready to contest the 2024 election without the support of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his family, citing disagreements over the latter’s attempt to subvert the Constitution.

Following weeks of protracted speculation of failing ties between Jokowi and the PDI-P – which has served as the President’s political vehicle for decades – party secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto aired the party’s grievances in a press statement on Sunday.

“We really loved and gave privileges to President Jokowi and his family, but we have been left behind because there were demands [from the President] that have the potential to violate moral principles and the Constitution,” Hasto said.

He did not mention what the demands were. But they could refer to either a recent controversial Constitutional Court ruling that cleared the way for Jokowi’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to contest the February presidential election, or proposals looking to keep Jokowi in power beyond his second and final term – either via a constitutional amendment or an election delay.

Although the term extension plan did not come to fruition, the PDI-P’s newest gripe with Jokowi and the First Family has been Gibran appearing on the ticket of the party’s rival as the running mate of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, thanks to the court ruling.

“All the things that have happened in the chain of events leading to Gibran’s [VP] candidacy have in fact been political disobedience toward the Constitution and the Indonesian people. All of this is on top of legal manipulation at the Constitutional Court,” Hasto said.

He said that some leaders of political parties had also confided in him that they were feeling “the pressure” of Jokowi’s power.

“Hopefully this dark cloud [looming over the nation’s] democracy will soon pass, and the Indonesian people will understand who left whom for the sake of their ambition for power,” he added.

Analysts say Jokowi has pulled out all the stops to secure his son’s candidacy to seal his legacy, even if it means opposing his party, the PDI-P, which is backing former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo for president and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD as his running mate.

Term extension

Hasto’s latest statement also came after he recently revealed that there had been efforts to extend Jokowi’s term in office. Hasto and another politician of the ruling party took aim at the President, accusing the lurah (village chief), a code name for President Jokowi, of being behind past initiatives to extend his presidential tenure.

The idea to either extend the term or delay the election gained momentum last year after several influential political figures and party leaders in the ruling coalition pushed the proposal publicly, allegedly at the behest of President Jokowi’s inner circle.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Hasto said he had met with a minister who told him that the proposal was “at the request of the village chief”. Hasto did not mention the name of the minister but said that the person had publicly claimed to have “big data” analysis that showed a majority of Indonesians wanted Jokowi’s term to be extended.

Notably, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan last year said that big data analyzed from 110 million Indonesian social media users revealed that a majority of the public supported the term extension.

However, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia, who is now also a deputy campaign manager for Prabowo and Gibran, said on Saturday that he was the person to blame for surfacing the controversial proposals.

Bahlil said that he was never ordered by anyone to drum up conversation surrounding the controversial proposal, and that he only did so because of Jokowi’s high approval rating in public opinion polls. “If there’s anyone to blame for [the proposal] looking to delay the election, it’s me, Bahlil Lahadalia, and no one else,” he said, as quoted from a newsclip on Kompas.com.

Gibran’s membership

Questions about Gibran’s status in the PDI-P have also been a recurring topic dominating headlines this past week as both the PDI-P and Gibran have been treading carefully around the perceived betrayal to prevent the other side from garnering public sympathy.

The PDI-P appeared to refrain from expelling Jokowi’s eldest son from the party, opting instead to wait for Gibran to show his “good intention” by formally quitting the party following his decision to run as a VP on the rival ticket. This came even after the party had repeatedly issued an ultimatum that party members must rally behind its presidential nominee Ganjar Pranowo or face expulsion.

“We are waiting for him to show some courtesy to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati [Soekarnoputri] and the party that have raised and looked after him for years – by returning his membership card to us,” PDI-P central board executive Ahmad Basarah said on Saturday.

Ahmad said that the party’s commitment to supporting Gibran’s Surakarta mayorship, which he won on the PDI-P ticket in 2020, remained unchanged.

Gibran’s unclear status in the party has elicited speculation among the public, including that Megawati, not being firm in leading the PDI-P to take disciplinary action against Gibran despite his perceived betrayal, may have been hedging her bets.

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