Home world Indonesia court clears path for Jokowi's son Gibran to run for vice-presidency

Indonesia court clears path for Jokowi's son Gibran to run for vice-presidency

Indonesia court clears path for Jokowi's son Gibran to run for vice-presidency
Published October 16, 2023 Updated October 16, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

JAKARTA — An Indonesian court issued a ruling on Monday (Oct 16) on the eligibility criteria for the country’s top posts that will pave the way for the eldest son of outgoing leader Joko Widodo to run for vice-president in next year’s election.

In a controversial decision that outraged critics of the president, the Constitutional Court ruled that candidates under the required age of 40 could seek the presidency or vice-presidency in the Feb 14 ballot, providing they have previously held elected regional office.

The decision adds weight to speculation that Indonesia’s president of nearly 10 years is moving to retain influence by backing Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto as his successor, with his eldest son and a Surakarta city mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, as running mate.

Deciding on a petition that challenged the minimum age for running for the presidency and vice-presidency, Judge M Guntur Hamzah said an age restriction would be an “injustice” against younger Indonesians with experience in government posts.

“A minimum age of 40 not only hampers but hinders the development of the young generation,” he said, noting leaders of France and New Zealand both rose to the top jobs in their 30s.

The ruling just three days out from registration for the election could deepen concern about the perceived influence of Mr Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, over Indonesia’s democratic institutions, including his brother-in-law Anwar Usman’s role as the court’s chief justice.

A court spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Anwar’s involvement in the ruling.

Mr Gibran has yet to publicly declare an intention to run for vice-president and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court’s decision.


An entrenchment of patronage and dynastic politics would be at odds with the democratic reforms the world’s third-largest democracy has achieved since the end of the rule of nepotistic strongman Suharto a quarter of a century ago, some analysts say.

“The judicial institution has somewhat legalised dynastic politics in Indonesia,” said Ms Bivitri Susanti, of Indonesia’s Jentera school of law.

The hugely popular Jokowi, who is not allowed to run for a third term, is keen to preserve his legacy after ushering in a series of reforms and a major push to attract big-ticket investment to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Mr Prabowo, a former special forces commander and Mr Jokowi’s rival in presidential races in 2014 and 2019, is neck-and-neck in opinion polls for the top job with Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, with ex-Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan a distant third.

Mr Jokowi has not formally backed Mr Prabowo and last week brushed off a question about whether he was seeking to create a political dynasty.

In an opinion piece on Monday in the Jakarta Post published before the court ruling, Mr Ary Hermawan, its editor at large said the court’s decision could have a wide-reaching impact.

“Concerns have been raised over whether the Constitutional Court can truly function as an impartial referee in the political race,” Mr Hermawan wrote.

“We are entering uncharted territory here.” REUTERS