Indonesia’s Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has announced that the eldest son of President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will be his running mate in next year’s election.
“By consensus, everyone agrees to support Prabowo Subianto as the presidential candidate and Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the vice presidential candidate,” Prabowo told the media outside his residence in the capital, Jakarta, on Sunday.
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The choice of 36-year-old Gibran, who is currently mayor of the central Javan city of Surakarta, could help boost the former general’s campaign for the top job, but has also fuelled criticism that Jokowi is trying to create a political dynasty in the world’s third-largest democracy.
Last week, a court upheld rules that candidates needed to be at least 40 years old but made an exception for those who had already held public office.
Indonesia will hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections on February 14 next year, with nearly 205 million of Indonesia’s more than 270 million people eligible to vote.
Prabowo, 72, has led most opinion polls this year, slightly ahead of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) party’s Ganjar Pranowo, a former Central Java governor, whose running mate is Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD. One-time Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan, is a distant third.
Asked about the possibility of his son’s nomination earlier on Sunday, Widodo said he would be “leaving it to the political parties’ coalition”, adding that a parent’s job is to pray for their children and give them their blessings.
The alliance with Gibran could transfer some of the outgoing president’s support base to Prabowo and in turn boost the outgoing leader’s chances of determining his own legacy by ensuring completion of key economic programmes he initiated, according to some analysts.
Under election rules, Indonesian presidents can serve only two terms in office.
Prabowo previously ran for president in 2014 and 2019, losing to Widodo.
He has said he plans to officially register his candidacy with the election commission on October 25, which is the last day for registration.