Round 2 in the battle of ‘political heirs’ and ‘newcomers’ for Indonesia’s presidency

Joko Widodo was a disruptor when he became president eight years ago. The 2024 election will see a return of the clash between new members of the two camps.

Mr Prabowo Subianto (far left) being congratulated by President Joko Widodo on becoming defence minister in 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

As Indonesia approaches its fifth direct presidential election in 2024, presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls have started coming forward to garner support from political parties. The emerging candidate pool can be divided into two camps: The “political heirs” – comprising candidates from established political dynasties and party elite – and the self-made “newcomers” who rose through the political ranks.

This breed of newcomer politicians is a phenomenon not even a decade old. It started when President Joko Widodo won in 2014 against Mr Prabowo Subianto. Mr Widodo had risen from humble beginnings – his family had no record of public service – whereas Mr Subianto, a retired army general, was formerly married to a daughter of the late president Suharto as well as being the son of Mr Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, a prominent economist who served as a minister during Mr Suharto’s tenure as well as that of his predecessor Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president.

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