Solo – A recommendation by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to back President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka as a mayoral candidate in the regional elections in Solo, Central Java, has attracted criticism from student groups in the city.
The students see the choice of Raka as Solo mayor as a threat to democracy because it will allegedly create a political dynasty.
The issue of political dynasties was taken up by the 73rd Kamisan (Thursday) action held at the Gladag traffic circle in Solo on Thursday July 23.
Aside from Raka’s minimal political experience and background, they also said that Raka as Widodo’s first born son also has problems himself.
“This is clearly a threat to democracy. Not only in Solo but nationally as well”, said Kamisan activist Laras following the action which was joined by around 50 students.
The protesters suspect that the PDI-P central leadership board’s recommendation to back Rika cannot be separated from interference by those who hold the reins of power.
Moreover a day before being announced, President Widodo summoned Rika’s rival candidate from the PDI-P, Achmad Purnomo.
In the era of reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998 – continued Laras, equal opportunities should be given to everyone to take part on the political arena. Political dynasties weaken the potential for new politicians to emerge.
Moreover many political parties are unable to compete because they have fallen foul of the high electoral threshold in elections.
“In the end only those who have a relationship with power and capital can complete in politics. It was impossible to challenge Gibran. Purnomo, who already had the support from the Solo PDI-P grass roots lost out to those with powerful relations”, he said.
Purnomo himself has been assigned by the Surakarta (Solo) PDI-P regional leadership board to oversee Rika’s election campaign team in Solo. Rika will be running alongside deputy mayoral candidate and long-term PDI-P member Teguh Prakosa.
The Kamisan action also tried to stimulate the thinking patterns of people in Solo which are allegedly still trapped by feudal ideas so they see Rika’s nomination as something normal.
“The concrete steps are that clearly we’ll be campaigning to [raise] political awareness in society. They don’t have to get directly involved. At a minimum the ordinary people must understand the country’s politics”, said Laras.
The Kamisan action itself is a routine event which is held every Thursday afternoon and joined by student activists in Solo.
Generally the actions take up local issues which do not attract much public attention. Laras explained that the theme of political dynasties was chosen for this action because they believe that Rika’s nomination will become a problem in the future.
Earlier, in a second round of announcements, one of the decisions of the PDI-P central leadership board was to back President Widodo’s son Rika as a candidate for the mayoral elections in Solo.
Rika will be paired with Solo Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) legislator Teguh Prakosa was the deputy mayoral candidate. It is expected that they will be competing against an empty ticket. (syd/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aksi Kamisan Mahasiswa Solo Tolak Politik Dinasti”.]