Security chief Mahfud claims nepotism in elections not always bad

Source – September 5, 2020
Students in Solo protest against political dynasties – July 24, 2020 (Democracy)

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD has responded to the polemic about political dynasties in the 2020 election of regional heads (Pilkada).

According to Mahfud, there are no laws which stipulate that a family member of a public official is not allowed to run as a candidate regional head.

Mahfud said that the practice of nepotism or family dynasties cannot be avoided, including in the upcoming 2020 regional elections that will be held on December 9.

“Perhaps most of us don’t like nepotism. But we have to say, there are no legal or constitutional channels at all that can prevent a person from nominating themselves based on nepotism or family connections”, said Mahfud during a virtual discussion titled Pilkada and the Consolidation of Local Democracy, on Saturday September 5.

Mahfud said that this is the case all over the world and that there are no other countries which prohibit people with family connections running for office.

He also said that the practice of family based politics does not always come with bad intent.

“Before there was a regency in Bangkalang, where a person once shouted, ‘I want to nominate myself because my kakak [older sister/brother] isn’t governing well. Because of this don’t accuse me of nepotism, but because my kakak is no good”, related Mahfud.

“So it’s not certain that the intent behind nepotism is always bad”, he said.

Mahfud said that one such regulation prohibiting nepotism that can be used as an example was a regulation during the Dutch colonial administration in Indonesia.

At the time, he said, there was a rule that family members of officials who held projects were not allowed to take part.

“That was before during the Dutch period, hopefully here there will be someone who will propose such a thing to prevent nepotism in the economic field”, said Mahfud.

“I don’t think that it can be prevented by law or the constitution anywhere. We can’t prohibit it. That’s a fact”, he said.

The issue of political dynasties has come to the fore with several family members close to government officials running in the 2020 election of regional heads, including the family of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Two examples are Gibran Rakabuming Raka who is running in the Solo regional election in Central Java and Bobby Afif Nasution in the Medan election in North Sumatra. Rika is Widodo’s first-born son while Nasution is the president’s son-in-law.

Then there is Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo (Sara) who is the cousin of Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) General Chairperson and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. Djojohadikusumo is running as the deputy mayor for South Tangerang city.

There is also Siti Nur Azizah Ma’ruf, the daughter of Vice President Ma’ruf Amin who is the mayoral candidate for South Tangerang city.

According to Kompas Research and Development there are currently no regulations which specifically prohibit or restrict political dynasties.

Previously Article 7 of Law Number 8/2015 on the election of regional heads prohibited candidate regional heads from running if they had a family relationship with the incumbent.

The article was revoked by the Constitutional Court in 2015 on the grounds that it restricted the political rights of citizens to be elected as regional heads.

Before it was revoked, the article prohibited people who had blood relations, marriage ties, and/or one level of direct family lineage above, below or alongside an incumbent.

This included fathers, mothers, mother and father-in-laws, uncles, aunts, grandparents, sisters and brothers, sister and brother-in-laws, children and daughter and son-in-laws. They were only allowed to run one term after the incumbent has left office.

With the Constitutional Court’s ruling, both candidate regional heads and deputy regional heads in regional elections with family ties to the incumbent can run without having to wait for one term after the incumbent has left office.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Soal Politik Dinasti, Mahfud MD: Tidak Ada Hukum yang Bisa Halangi Nepotisme”.]