On 25 October Prabowo Subianto registered his candidacy for Indonesia’s 2024 presidential election. This declaration itself carried little shock. The previous basic’s presidential ambitions had been an open secret; having tried twice and failed in 2014 and 2019, it was clear to anybody who is aware of a bit about Indonesian politics that he would attempt for the third time in 2024.
Whereas Prabowo declaring his presidential aspiration may need been a non-story, what drew extra public curiosity, and scrutiny, was the announcement that Gibran Rakabuming, president Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) oldest son, can be Prabowo’s vice-presidential candidate.
By giving “permission”—some would say advocating for—his son to run alongside Prabowo, Jokowi has completed one thing that no Indonesian presidents earlier than him had completed: he put his baby explicitly on a path to the very best elected workplace within the nation. The notoriously corrupt and nepotistic Soeharto gave his youngsters candy enterprise offers. However the closest his youngsters ever been to a state place was when he appointed one among his daughters, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, as a minister in his final cupboard in 1998.
Megawati Soekarnoputri and her late husband Taufik Kiemas had all the time been mentioned to have excessive hopes for his or her daughter, Puan Maharani, to turn out to be vice chairman and even president. However thus far they’ve by no means put her on a presidential ticket. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), too, had equally excessive ambitions for the political way forward for his eldest son, Agus. However voters appear to disagree with a father’s glowing hope for his son: Agus was eradicated within the first spherical of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, and his low electability rankings have by no means put him inside putting distance of a presidential ticket.
A lot has been written about this Prabowo–Gibran declaration from the attitude of political dynasticism, or about how this political manoeuvre has upset even Jokowi’s interior circle and positioned him in opposition to his personal social gathering, PDI-P and its matriarch Megawati. These are all essential and fascinating views. However I’m occupied with one thing totally different: not solely in Jokowi’s targets and methods, however extra importantly in components which will hinder or facilitate the attainment of those targets.
Jokowi’s finish sport
I attribute two finish targets to Jokowi’s many political manoeuvres, from co-opting the Constitutional Court docket, till not too long ago below the management of a chief justice who was his brother in-law, to having his son positioned as Prabowo’s operating mate.
First, Jokowi is occupied with making certain the safety of his political and financial legacies. He’ll need the brand new capital metropolis of Nusantara to proceed, the “omnibus” Legislation on Job Creation to remain because the regulation of the land, for infrastructure growth to broaden, and for the useful resource nationalism and downstreaming (hilirisasi) paradigm to thrive, amongst others.
Second, Jokowi is occupied with sustaining some degree of political clout. This can’t be separated from the primary objective. In a celebration system the place events shouldn’t have distinct and constant platforms, a pacesetter’s insurance policies usually may be superior and preserved solely by way of personalistic appeals.
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Nevertheless it additionally goes past the primary set of coverage targets sketched above. The integrity and capability of the judiciary and the broader legal justice system have all the time been a work-in-progress in Indonesia. Sustaining political clout after leaving workplace means lowering the probability of the justice system being turned in opposition to one’s self and one’s household—whether or not unjustifiably as a part of a political vendetta, justifiably as a result of a criminal offense one did whereas in workplace, or a mix of each.
These two targets deliberately underplay the dynastic part of Jokowi’s manoeuvres. Political dynasticism is unhealthy for democratic life, however it’s doubtless only a means to an finish. To some, a political dynasty is a method to make sure their descendants have entry to wealth and energy. To others, it’s a means to make sure that their visions of the society will likely be carried out. Nonetheless, to some others, it’s a means to get across the problem of a low-trust atmosphere: turning to household networks turns into an inexpensive technique once you can’t belief your political allies to behave in your pursuits.
Why Prabowo might be a miscalculation
In attaching his son to Prabowo’s ticket, Jokowi clearly sees it as probably the most possible option to obtain his political targets. He doubtless believes that Prabowo, if profitable the election, will safe his coverage legacy. He additionally believes that having his son within the second highest workplace within the nation will preserve, if not broaden, the household’s political clout and defend it from political and authorized witch-hunts.
Beliefs can flip into actuality. However beliefs may also be a miscalculation. There are three the reason why putting his political future in Prabowo may be a severe miscalculation for Jokowi.
The primary motive is that even when Prabowo wins the election Jokowi won’t have an electoral car, within the type of a celebration, that he can management to affect policymaking within the parliament (DPR). By supporting Prabowo, Jokowi virtually deserted the social gathering that made him a family title, PDI-P. It’s maybe true that Jokowi was by no means in command of PDI-P anyway due to Megawati’s position because the social gathering’s matron. However, for higher or worse, PDI Perjuangan stood by Jokowi’s facet in all of his signature insurance policies―the brand new capital, the omnibus regulation, the revisions to the anti-corruption regulation, the brand new legal code, to call a number of.
Because the political scientist E. E. Schattschneider famous, “[m]odern democracy is unthinkable save by way of events.” Jokowi will be unable to affect what is occurring and mentioned in parliament until he has a celebration that he controls. Irrespective of how widespread Jokowi is amongst voters, these DPR members will hearken to and obey solely their social gathering leaders.
The second motive is that Prabowo is a army determine nonetheless widespread within the military. As a president, he could have the weapons and the troops below his sway—each formally on account of his place and informally on account of his lasting army affect. It’s not in any respect clear how Jokowi thinks he can persuade a army man to do his bidding as soon as he’s outdoors the circle of energy.
To make issues tougher, Jokowi himself has all however assured the army’s rising affect in Indonesian politics by increasing the alternatives for army officers to carry civilian workplace. For Jokowi to suppose that Prabowo the president can be the identical man as Prabowo the defence minister can be at greatest naïve and at worst delusional. One doesn’t merely instruct the boys controlling the weapons what to do, particularly if one now not has the authority to take action.
Third, with no political car and missing entry to coercive pressure, Jokowi must depend on grassroots actions to remain related. But, Jokowi is once more missing right here. Jokowi just isn’t Abdurrahman Wahid, who commanded tens of 1000’s of loyal followers in Nahdlatul Ulama. He has voters, however not essentially the militant supporters one can convey to avenue demonstrations and put strain on the federal government. It stays to be seen whether or not his supporter networks corresponding to ProJo will keep loyal after he now not has patronage to distribute.
These are the reason why backing Prabowo might be seen a miscalculation. However it isn’t my level to argue that it’s: backing Prabowo remains to be a calculated transfer, albeit a excessive danger one. One can simply observe at the very least two situations the place this calculated danger would yield a excessive return.
When Prabowo pays off
Simply to handle the elephant within the room, the primary situation is worried with the truth that Prabowo is now not younger. If he wins the election he can be sworn into workplace on 20 October, 2024 on the age of 73, simply 4 years shy of the age of Soeharto when he was pressured to step down by pupil protests. Ought to Prabowo sooner or later now not have the capability to execute the duties of the presidency, Gibran must step up and not one of the above challenges concerning the boundaries on Jokowi’s post-presidential energy would matter anymore.
The second situation is that if Jokowi, by way of some manoeuvres, manages to take management of one of many main events throughout a Prabowo presidency. This is able to give him a political car to affect policymaking and an precise mass base to mould and persuade Prabowo’s administration.
The appointment of Jokowi’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, as chairperson of the Indonesian Solidarity Social gathering (PSI) is a transfer in that course. However PSI is simply too small to be effectual. To affect policymaking, Jokowi wants an even bigger social gathering. Golkar is an interesting goal. It has no ideological platform and no abiding attachment to particular person leaders. It’s merely drawn to energy and whoever wields it. A senior Golkar determine put it bluntly that “Golkar has no expertise for being in opposition, as a result of it was born to be in energy and handle the federal government.”
The truth that Jokowi has planted favours amongst influential Golkar figures by having them as ministers, and that Jokowi’s long-time ally and confidante Luhut Pandjaitan is the chair of the social gathering’s advisory board, may assist with such a takeover. Within the Golkar social gathering congress scheduled for 2024, Jokowi may help a management ticket amicable to his agenda, or he may merely put ahead his household to fill in key positions at Golkar, as rumours about Gibran and his son-in-law (and incumbent mayor of Medan) Bobby Nasution leaving PDI-P and becoming a member of Golkar appear to recommend.
One other interesting takeover goal is maybe moderately stunning: PDI-P. Eventually Megawati, 76 years previous, has to move the management baton to somebody. Puan Maharani is an apparent selection on account of her Soekarno ancestry. However many contained in the social gathering may wish to modernise it and lead it in a special course. Soekarno and ties with Soekarno would nonetheless be essential, however as a logo and ideological compass greater than an automated admission ticket to the management place.
Ought to such a gap occur, Jokowi can be ready to make the most of it. It could be a wedding of comfort: Jokowi would have a political car to proceed his affect even after leaving workplace, and PDI-P would have a preferred vote getter who’s their cadre, although maybe within the eyes of many within the social gathering, a once-disgraced one.
Jokowi has positioned his eggs within the Prabowo basket. However it’s unlikely that he’ll simply pray that the basket is nice. Jokowi is aware of that if he may flip his again on the social gathering that had been his residence for 20 years, there isn’t any motive why Prabowo couldn’t do the identical to him as soon as in energy.
He must take additional steps to guard his funding in Prabowo, whether or not by institutionalising his volunteer networks or, extra doubtless, by making certain management of and persevering with help from one of many main events. Solely by way of these steps can Jokowi be sure that his help for Prabowo won’t find yourself as a miscalculation.