Indonesia: President’s Son Appears to be Winner in Solo City Mayoral Race

Arie Firdaus
Jakarta
2020-12-09
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Indonesia: President’s Son Appears to be Winner in Solo City Mayoral Race Gibran Rakabuming Raka (right), candidate for mayor in Solo, Central Java, and son of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, casts his ballot during regional elections in Indonesia on Dec. 9, 2020.
Antara Foto/Mohammad Ayudha/Reuters

Early results from Wednesday’s local elections showed Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son running away with the race for mayor of Solo, setting the stage for what some analysts are calling a potential political dynasty.

Across Indonesia more than 100 million voters were eligible to go to the polls on Wednesday to elect nine governors, 223 district chiefs, or regents, and 37 mayors in the country’s largest simultaneous local elections. 

A pollster’s “quick count” showed Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Jokowi’s eldest son, collecting more than 87 percent of the vote to lead the race for mayor of the Central Java province city, an office previously held by his father.

Meanwhile, Bobby Nasution, who is married to Jokowi’s daughter, was projected to be elected mayor of Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, with 55 percent of the vote, according to another pollster. 

“We have received positive news from a number of key areas. Candidates in Solo [Gibran] and Medan [Nasution] and various other areas have won public trust,” ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle Secretary General Hasto Kristianto told BenarNews.

Official results are expected by Dec. 20, but quick counts have proven accurate in predicting winners of past national and local elections.

These projected wins show that dynastic politics dominate in Indonesia, said Titi Anggraini, a researcher for the Association for Elections and Democracy, or Perludem.

“What happened in these elections is part of the trend,” Titi told BenarNews.

She attributed the dynasties to political parties’ desire to maintain influence and power.

“It’s very unfortunate that relations to certain figures determine the results of these costly elections,” she said.

In Wednesday’s election, 146 candidates had ties to political dynasties, up from 52, a year ago, said Yoes Kenawas, a doctoral candidate at the Northwestern University in Illinois.

“Political parties and political dynasties have a symbiotic, mutualistic relationship,” Yoes told BenarNews.

“Dynastic candidates need political vehicles to run, while parties need dynastic candidates because they have proven to be effective vote-getters in elections. They also finance party operations and contribute to parties at the national level.”  

Other candidates linked to prominent national politicians in Wednesday’s elections include a daughter of Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, a niece of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and a son of Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung. 

The first two appeared to be losing their races, while Anung’s son ran unopposed.

Jokowi’s son Gibran, a restaurateur, made a brief comment on national television, about his projected win in the Solo mayoral race.

“Let’s just wait for the official results from the KPU (electoral commission). This is just a quick count,” the 33-year-old told Kompas TV.

The president, meanwhile, did not comment on the results.

Coronavirus concerns

Election officials did not release figures on the total turnout for Wednesday's nationwide polls, but some regional officials said the numbers were low amid concerns about a spike in COVID-19 cases.

At the polling station where Nasution voted, only 124 of 314 registered voters cast their ballots.

“We have tried [to woo voters], but participation was still low,” the head of the local election committee, Ahmad Fauzan, told the Kompas.com website.

At Gibran’s polling station, only 208 of 314 registered voters cast ballots, according to CNN Indonesia.

Some Indonesians on social media had called for a boycott of the elections. “Golput [no vote]” becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

On Wednesday, election officials reported the voting was peaceful with a few hitches.

Several polling stations were flooded in the North Sumatra city of Tanjungbalai, voting was moved indoors after strong winds knocked down three polling stations while in West Java’s Cianjur regency, the Antara news agency reported.

By comparison, more than 500 poll officials and police died of exhaustion or illnesses associated with working long hours in the days before, during and after the April 2019 presidential election.

Meanwhile, political events leading up to Wednesday’s election, including campaigns, have not been shown to have contributed to a spikes in coronavirus cases, said Mohammad Mahfud MD, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.

“Even in areas where no elections took place, COVID-19 cases have been rampant,” Mahfud told reporters.

“So, there is no real link between the increase in COVID-19 infections and the elections,” he said, adding the government required that strict health guidelines be followed. 

Laura Navika Yamani, an epidemiologist at Airlangga University in Surabaya, said the effectiveness of the health protocols would depend on how well they had been implemented by poll workers and voters.

“If the guidelines were not implemented properly, things could go awry,” Laura told BenarNews.

Wednesday’s elections were originally scheduled to be held in September, but the authorities in postponed them to this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the vote, 1,023 poll workers had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the election supervisory agency known as Bawaslu. In addition, at least 63 candidates had tested positive for the coronavirus, including three who had died from being infected.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia rose by 6,058 to 592,900 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. The virus-related death toll rose by 171, a new daily record, to 18,171.

Globally, more than 68.5 million people have been infected by COVID-19 and more than 1.5 million have died since the pandemic began, according to disease experts at the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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