President Joko's son joins contest to be mayor of Solo

Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka will pitch for his father's party, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.
Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka will pitch for his father's party, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

Rejecting allegations that he was helping to build a political dynasty, President Joko Widodo's eldest child, Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka, has joined the race for mayor of Central Java's city of Solo.

The 32-year old culinary businessman will pitch for his father's party, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which is the country's largest political party, in next year's regional election.

Mr Gibran told hundreds of supporters yesterday that they were united by "the same vision" to bring more progress to the second-tier city of more than half a million.

"We want Solo to leap forward. We don't talk about change any more, but we talk about leap, speed. Solo must leap so that it prospers," Antara news agency quoted him as saying, before he left for Semarang, Central Java's capital.

President Joko began his political career as the mayor of Solo, which is officially known as Surakarta, from 2005 to 2012, before gaining national fame while serving as Jakarta governor from 2012 to 2014.

Mr Gibran, accompanied by around 1,000 supporters in 20 buses, filed documents for his candidacy at the party's provincial chapter after its Solo chapter rejected his nomination. It instead recommended Mr Achmad Purnomo, who now serves as deputy mayor, and his running mate Teguh Prakosa.

As each party may have only one candidate to represent it, PDI-P leaders will have the final say on who it will be.

A survey by Solo-based Slamet Riyadi University in July, however, revealed Mr Gibran's popularity to be equivalent to the 70-year-old Mr Achmad's.

Prior to his nomination, Mr Gibran had met PDI-P founder and chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri in Jakarta to secure her endorsement.

 
 

On Dec 3, Mr Joko's son-in-law Bobby Afif Nasution, 28, also registered his nomination in the mayoral race in Medan, North Sumatra.

The moves by Mr Bobby and Mr Gibran have raised speculation that the President's family is building a political dynasty, which remains a common practice in the world's third-largest democracy. These claims were rebuffed by both men.

Mr Joko, who has three children, also denied talk of a political dynasty, Antara reported.

"In a competition, (a candidate) can win or lose. It's up to the people, who have the right to vote," he said on the sidelines of the inauguration of a toll road in Bekasi, West Java.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2019, with the headline 'President Joko's son joins contest to be mayor of Solo'. Print Edition | Subscribe