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Politics

Jokowi's son seeks mayor post in sign of nascent dynasty

Indonesian leader is the first not to come from a political family or the elite

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, and his son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, greet supporters prior to Widodo's inauguration for his second term in Jakarta on Oct. 20.   © AP

JAKARTA -- Indonesian President Joko Widodo's eldest son registered with his political party to be its candidate for mayor of the city of Solo in central Java, a move that has sparked criticism that the self-styled common man leader is intent on creating a political dynasty.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka registered with the local office of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) on Thursday, accompanied by his mother and first lady Iriana. Both Widodo and Gibran are members of the PDIP, which is led by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The election will be held in September, and the winner will hold the position until 2025.

Gibran's intention to run has been public for some time, and the PDIP will ultimately have to decide if it supports the president's son. The PDIP's Solo office had previously said it would not back Gibran because it already has its own preferred candidates.

The position of Solo mayor is symbolic as it was Widodo's first step toward political stardom. The plaudits he earned as mayor of the city propelled him to become the governor of Jakarta, and then president.

Jokowi, as the president is widely known, got his reputation as a "man of the people" as the former furniture exporter was the first Indonesian president to not come from a political dynasty or the elite ranks.

However, Gibran's registration has led critics to question whether the president is intent on building up his own political lineage. Indeed, Widodo's son-in-law Bobby Nasution registered with the PDIP last week to be the candidate for the mayor of Medan in North Sumatra.

Syamsuddin Haris, a political researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, blasted the move in a Twitter post on Thursday.

"It is the right of every citizen to enter politics, including the president's son/son-in-law," he wrote. "But it is not right if they run as mayor candidates when their father/in-law is still serving as president. However it is defended, the accusation of dynasty, nepotism, taking chances will arise. Hopefully President Jokowi realizes."

The PDIP has played down accusations of nepotism.

"The political dynasty [like this] in the eastern world is very common," Bambang Wuryanto, the chairman of PDIP's Central Java office said, according to CNN Indonesia. He added that Gibran "must display competence" or the Indonesian public will "laugh at" him.

The chairman said that Puan Maharani, daughter of Megawati and granddaughter of Indonesia's founding father Sukarno, showed competence while she was the coordinating human development and culture minister, elevating her to the position of speaker in the House of Representatives.

"If you are not able to [be like Puan] then you will be laughed at," he said.

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