Home General Indonesia: President Jokowi And Son Quit Ruling PDIP After Backing Rival Prabowo...

Indonesia: President Jokowi And Son Quit Ruling PDIP After Backing Rival Prabowo For President

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo takes the stage to speak about the planned new capital Nusantara, at Ecosperity Week in Singapore June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and his son, the vice president-elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka, have left the nation’s largest party, the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) after supporting the successful rival presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, according to a party official on Tuesday. Komarudin Watubun, who heads the ethical division of the PDIP, said Jokowi and Gibran were not expelled but ceased to be members when they decided not to endorse PDIP’s presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo.

Helped by Jokowi’s tacit endorsement and with Gibran as running mate, Prabowo won by a huge margin in the Feb. 14 election, taking 58% of the vote compared to Ganjar’s 16%.

“They decided to be on the opposite side,” Komaruddin told Reuters. “Regardless of what happened, Jokowi reached the highest career level in the party, he has become president. We want to preserve his dignity,” he said.

This departure focuses attention on the future actions of the popular outgoing president, commonly referred to as Jokowi. His endorsement of Defense Minister Prabowo is seen as an attempt to maintain his political influence and safeguard his legacy after ten years in leadership.

The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Jokowi joined PDIP in 2004 to run for mayor of Surakarta and won two terms. He was later elected Jakarta governor and became president for two terms with PDIP’s backing. Gibran has also served as Surakarta mayor since 2020. Jokowi’s backing of Prabowo has created tension between him and PDIP, which will remain the biggest party in parliament following the election.

Jokowi has yet to discuss his political plans but according to several sources, he wants to take over the second-biggest party, Golkar, a move that could see him retain sizable influence and potentially counterbalance that of old rival Prabowo when he takes office in October. Prabowo’s current coalition comprises 48% of seats and senior aides have said he aims to expand that to command a majority. Several parties, such as Nasdem, which backed another candidate, have already held talks with Prabowo.

Speculation is also rife that PDIP chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, a political heavyweight, could soon meet Prabowo to discuss joining his coalition amid the ongoing rift with Jokowi.

With Inputs From Reuters