October 18, 2023
JAKARTA – The rift between Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) matron Megawati Soekarnoputri and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is expected to deepen should his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka decide to run for vice president after the controversial court ruling opens the way for the mayor to enter the race.
With the Constitutional Court altering the candidacy requirements for the presidential election next year, it is now up to 36-year-old Surakarta Mayor Gibran, and his father, to seize the opportunity to forge an alliance with Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra Party and compete with the PDI-P.
Like his father, Gibran is a member of the PDI-P, which has announced that its presidential candidate is former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, and whose chairwoman, Megawati, has a tense relationship with Jokowi.
Gibran has not officially announced any intention of running in the upcoming race, but politicians supporting the presidential candidacy of Defense Minister Prabowo have asked for Gibran to be Prabowo’s running mate.
However, after repeatedly downplaying speculation that he would take the offer to run as Prabowo’s running mate, Gibran, who will be summoned to the PDI-P leadership in Jakarta on Wednesday following the ruling, hinted that he would reveal his final decision after the meeting.
“Let’s wait for tomorrow’s meeting between me and party leadership. This is not a personal matter, [I] have to consult with many sides beforehand,” Gibran said in Surakarta as quoted by Kompas.com.
Monday’s ruling and the growing calls for Gibran to be Prabowo’s running mate sparked speculation about whether the mayor would jump ship to join the other party to enter the race, given that the PDI-P has made it clear that Gibran would no longer be part of the ruling party if he becomes Prabowo’s running mate.
The Golkar Party, which is backing Prabowo’s candidacy and whose chairman, Airlangga Hartarto, has been loyal to President Jokowi, has opened its door for Gibran to join, noting, however, that Gibran must declare his withdrawal from the PDI-P beforehand.
Senior Golkar politician Agung Laksono, who is now serving as a member of the presidential advisory board, revealed on Tuesday that there has been a “commitment” within Prabowo’s camp to give the vice-presidential slot to Golkar, the second-largest party in Prabowo’s camp.
“Even if the candidate does not come from Golkar, he or she will be ‘Golkar-ized first” through one of the party’s wing organizations, Agung said, before being nominated to run alongside Prabowo.
Another Golkar senior politician Nusron Wahid, who has called Prabowo and Gibran “an ideal pairing”, however, stressed that it will be up to Gibran to decide whether he would like to ditch the PDI-P and join Golkar. Nusron said that Golkar would never force Gibran to change his allegiance from the PDI-P.
“Gibran knows what is best” for his political future and for the country, Nusron told The Jakarta Post. “The important thing for us is that Pak Prabowo wins in a respectful and elegant way.”
The PDI-P, which has appeared to be gearing up for the possibility of competing in the upcoming race without the support of President Jokowi, whose allegiance to the party continues to be questioned, is expected to unveil who will run as Ganjar’s running mate on Wednesday.
Jokowi has been distancing himself from Monday’s court ruling, something that has been facilitated by an official trip to Beijing this week, from which he will return on Friday, when it is rumored that Prabowo will register his presidency alongside a not yet disclosed vice-presidential candidate.
In what many see as a swipe at Gibran, Megawati emphasized the importance of party loyalty during her speech at the inauguration of the PDI-P’s Surakarta headquarters on Monday, from which Gibran was reportedly absent.
Megawati also demanded loyalty from her party’s rank and file, warning members against switching allegiances.
“Many have tried to destroy this party for 32 years. But we continued to exist […] These various tests have made us more politically mature,” she said.
Analysts have said Gibran’s vice-presidential candidacy could potentially lead to the departure of Jokowi’s family members from the PDI-P, either voluntarily or through an expulsion.
Gibran’s vice-presidential candidacy is also expected to rile the PDI-P and open paths for the ruling party to team up with Jokowi’s political opponents, such as those behind the presidential bid of Anies Baswedan, to openly resist Jokowi’s influence and beat the potential Prabowo-Gibran pairing, analyst Ahmad Khoirul Umam said.
While Gibran’s candidacy might be Jokowi’s ultimate seal of approval of Prabowo’s presidential bid, it is not a guarantee of victory, analyst Agung Baskoro said, adding that Prabowo should weigh carefully and rationally his running mate choices.
A recent survey by Poltracking, taken between Sept. 3and 9, found Gibran’s electability stood at 7.3 percent, trailing behind State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir with 18.6 percent, Democratic Party chair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono with 10.2 percent and former West Java governor Ridwan Kamil of Golkar with 9.1 percent.