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 slightly 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, could 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 youngster explicitly on a path to the best elected workplace within the nation. The notoriously corrupt and nepotistic Soeharto gave his kids candy enterprise offers. However the closest his kids ever been to a state place was when he appointed certainly one of his daughters, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, as a minister in his final cupboard in 1998.
Megawati Soekarnoputri and her late husband Taufik Kiemas had at all times been stated to have excessive hopes for his or her daughter, Puan Maharani, to turn out to be vp and even president. However to this point 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 scores have by no means put him inside hanging distance of a presidential ticket.
A lot has been written about this Prabowo–Gibran declaration from the angle of political dynasticism, or about how this political manoeuvre has upset even Jokowi’s interior circle and positioned him in opposition to his personal occasion, PDI-P and its matriarch Megawati. These are all necessary and fascinating views. However I’m involved in one thing completely different: not solely in Jokowi’s objectives and techniques, however extra importantly in elements which will hinder or facilitate the attainment of those objectives.
Jokowi’s finish sport
I attribute two finish objectives to Jokowi’s many political manoeuvres, from co-opting the Constitutional Courtroom, till not too long ago beneath the management of a chief justice who was his brother in-law, to having his son positioned as Prabowo’s working mate.
First, Jokowi is involved in 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 legislation 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 involved in sustaining some stage of political clout. This can’t be separated from the primary purpose. In a celebration system the place events should not 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 objectives sketched above. The integrity and capability of the judiciary and the broader prison justice system have at all times been a work-in-progress in Indonesia. Sustaining political clout after leaving workplace means decreasing 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 objectives 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 shall be applied. 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 affordable technique once you can not 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 objectives. He doubtless believes that Prabowo, if successful 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 protect it from political and authorized witch-hunts.
Beliefs can flip into actuality. However beliefs will also be a miscalculation. There are three the explanation why putting his political future in Prabowo could be a critical miscalculation for Jokowi.
The primary motive is that even when Prabowo wins the election Jokowi is not going to 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 occasion that made him a family title, PDI-P. It’s maybe true that Jokowi was by no means answerable for PDI-P anyway due to Megawati’s position because the occasion’s matron. However, for higher or worse, PDI Perjuangan stood by Jokowi’s aspect in all of his signature insurance policies―the brand new capital, the omnibus legislation, the revisions to the anti-corruption legislation, the brand new prison code, to call a couple 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 except he has a celebration that he controls. Regardless of how common Jokowi is amongst voters, these DPR members will hearken to and obey solely their occasion leaders.
The second motive is that Prabowo is a army determine nonetheless common within the military. As a president, he can have the weapons and the troops beneath his sway—each formally attributable to his place and informally attributable to 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 exterior the circle of energy.
To make issues more difficult, 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 assume that Prabowo the president could be the identical man as Prabowo the defence minister could be at finest 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 drive, 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 hundreds of loyal followers in Nahdlatul Ulama. He has voters, however not essentially the militant supporters one can deliver to avenue demonstrations and put strain on the federal government. It stays to be seen whether or not his supporter networks reminiscent of ProJo will keep loyal after he now not has patronage to distribute.
These are the explanation why backing Prabowo might be seen a miscalculation. However it’s not my level to argue that it’s: backing Prabowo remains to be a calculated transfer, albeit a excessive threat one. One can simply observe at the very least two situations the place this calculated threat 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 could 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 compelled to step down by scholar 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 bounds 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 might 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 Occasion (PSI) is a transfer in that course. However PSI is just too small to be effectual. To affect policymaking, Jokowi wants an even bigger occasion. Golkar is an interesting goal. It has no ideological platform and no abiding attachment to particular person leaders. It’s merely interested in 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 occasion’s advisory board, might assist with such a takeover. Within the Golkar occasion congress scheduled for 2024, Jokowi might assist a management ticket amicable to his agenda, or he might 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 counsel.
One other interesting takeover goal is probably slightly stunning: PDI-P. Ultimately Megawati, 76 years outdated, has to move the management baton to somebody. Puan Maharani is an apparent alternative attributable to her Soekarno ancestry. However many contained in the occasion would possibly need to modernise it and lead it in a unique course. Soekarno and ties with Soekarno would nonetheless be necessary, however as a logo and ideological compass greater than an automated admission ticket to the management place.
Ought to such a gap occur, Jokowi could be ready to reap the benefits 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 well-liked vote getter who’s their cadre, although maybe within the eyes of many within the occasion, 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 might flip his again on the occasion that had been his dwelling 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 assist from one of many main events. Solely by way of these steps can Jokowi make sure that his assist for Prabowo is not going to find yourself as a miscalculation.