(Bloomberg) — The eldest son of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo pledged to uphold his father’s existing policies as he runs alongside Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto as his vice-presidential candidate.
“Our task now is to continue existing programs and refine them,” said Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 36, after his candidacy was earlier announced by Prabowo in his absence. The pair registered their campaign with the Elections Commission on Wednesday after speaking to thousands of supporters in a packed stadium.
Gibran as vice-president could strengthen the political dynasty of Jokowi, as the incumbent leader is known, and safeguard key policies including the $34 billion new capital and an ongoing commodities refining push that have brought in billions of dollars in investments.
The upcoming election will be a decisive moment for the country, Prabowo said at a rally on Wednesday before registering his candidacy. “It’s a pivotal point where we can rise to make Indonesia great, to eliminate hunger and poverty,” he said.
“Continuity and consistency are our capital in moving toward a ‘Golden Indonesia’,” said Gibran at the same event, harking back to his father’s 2019 campaign pledge of setting out an economic roadmap to bring per capita GDP to $25,000 by 2045 and create 10 million jobs. Gibran also vowed to provide credit to millennial-owned startups and improve healthcare for children, while continuing minerals downstreaming and energy transition programs.
Gibran campaigning alongside Prabowo could win over some of Jokowi’s supporters to Prabowo’s side. But the move has also garnered backlash as Indonesians voiced their disappointment in what’s widely seen as the president’s attempt to continue steering Southeast Asia’s largest economy beyond the end of his final term.
“The other candidates will exploit the issue of Jokowi’s political dynasty to undermine the Prabowo-Gibran pairing,” said D. Nicky Fahrizal, political analyst at the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Consequently, some of Prabowo’s supporters who are against Jokowi creating a dynasty may swing to other candidates, potentially reducing support for him.”
The popularity of Prabowo-Gibran has surged in recent months to the top spot with 35.9% of support, far ahead of Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD at second place with 26.1%, according to an October poll by Lembaga Survei Indonesia.
Gibran’s candidacy was only made possible by a contentious court ruling — chaired by Jokowi’s brother-in-law — last week that exempted those with regional leadership experience from the minimum age requirement of 40 years old. He’s served as mayor of the president’s hometown of Solo for two years.
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