Shotaro Tani, Jakarta – The eldest son of Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to become the new mayor of Solo, a position that propelled his father into political stardom, unofficial results from regional elections show.
Quick count seen by several local pollsters showed Gibran Rakabuming Raka taking close to 90% of the votes in Wednesday's election. While not all votes have been counted, the lead is wide enough to guarantee his victory.
The president's son was backed by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which holds 30 seats in the 45-member Solo Legislative Council. Both he and his father are members of the party. His opponent was Bagyo Wahyono, a little-known local business owner running as an independent.
More than 100 million Indonesian voted Wednesday to elect nine governors, 224 regents and 37 mayors across the world's third-largest democracy. Official results are due by December 15th. When confirmed, Gibran will become the mayor of Solo in February.
The elections may mark the birth of new political dynasties, as other than Gibran, relatives of Vice President Ma'ruf Amin and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto are all running for office. The country's politics have long been characterized by nepotism, and the number of dynastic candidates is about double that of polls five years ago.
Widodo's son-in-law is also in the race for mayor of Medan in North Sumatra.
Jokowi, as the president is called, is known as a "man of the people" owing to his former career as a furniture exporter. He was the first president not to come from a political dynasty or the nation's elite.
But critics are now questioning whether Jokowi is trying to build his own political family; a notion he wants to dispel by distancing himself from his son and son-in-law's political ambitions while denying any claims of a Widodo dynasty.
Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, niece of Prabowo Subianto, Widodo's opponent in two presidential elections, is bidding to become the deputy mayor of South Tangerang, Banten. In the same city, Siti Nur Azizah, the daughter of Amin, is running for mayor. They will go up against each other because they have partnered with different mayoral and vice-mayoral candidates.
Hanindhito Himawan Pramono, son of Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, is running unchallenged in the race to be regent of Kediri, East Java. The position has been held by the same family for more than 20 years.
Elsewhere, the brother of the agriculture minister and nephew of former Vice President Jusuf Kalla is aiming to become the mayor of Makassar, while the sister of the manpower minister is running for vice regent of Mojokerto.
More than 100 dynastic politicians are taking part in this year's elections, up from 52 in 2015 regional polls, according to Yoes Kenawas, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University in the U.S.
The elections were initially penciled in for September, but as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the country, Widodo pushed back the date to Dec. 9. While COVID-19 remains rampant – the country is the worst hit in the region – Widodo has dismissed calls to delay the vote further, saying that would deny the people their constitutional right to choose leaders.
"The national implications of these local elections are modest, not least as party coalitions vary. So it cannot be interpreted as a clear referendum on Jokowi or his government," Peter Mumford of Eurasia Group said in a memo. "Furthermore, key governors eyeing a presidential run in 2024 – Anies [Baswedan] in Jakarta, Ganjar Pranowo in Central Java, and Ridwan Kamil in West Java – will not be up for reelection this year."
However, as the country saw the recent return of controversial Islamist cleric Rizieq Shibab, "the number of politicians elected on Islamist, as opposed to pluralist, platforms will be broadly indicative of the underlying level of public support for political Islam and an important watchpoint on wider political trends that could shape the crucial 2024 presidential race," Mumford said.