Joko Widodo criticized for alleged favoritism in Indonesian election, raising concerns for democracy

Widodo’s impartiality was further questioned when photos circulated of him hosting a private dinner for Prabowo earlier this month. Reports suggest that this meeting aimed to secure support for the Prabowo-Gibran ticket, raising concerns about their ability to secure an outright poll victory.

Joko Widodo is facing criticism for his perceived favouritism towards front-runner Prabowo Subianto. Despite claiming impartiality, Widodo’s tacit support for Prabowo is evident, particularly with his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka being Prabowo’s running mate. This connection has raised concerns about the neutrality of the electoral process.

A civil society organization, the National Movement of Conscience, recently held talks with Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, urging poll organizers and government institutions to uphold democratic values and maintain neutrality. The group expressed concerns about the distortion of the democratization process and emphasized the need for peaceful and dignified elections.

Widodo’s impartiality was further questioned when photos circulated of him hosting a private dinner for Prabowo earlier this month. Reports suggest that this meeting aimed to secure support for the Prabowo-Gibran ticket, raising concerns about their ability to secure an outright poll victory.

The latest opinion poll by Indikator Politik showed Prabowo with 45.8% support, while Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo trailed with 25.5% and 23%, respectively. Analysts speculate that any perceived missteps by Widodo could hinder Prabowo and Gibran’s efforts to boost their popularity.

Critics accuse Widodo of leveraging his position to secure Gibran’s nomination, particularly after a constitutional court ruling modified the age requirement for Gibran to run for the vice presidency. This move sparked widespread criticism, with accusations of Widodo attempting to establish a political dynasty and abusing his power.

Dedi Dinarto, lead Indonesia analyst at Global Counsel, suggests that Widodo’s partiality towards Prabowo is a strategic move for his political survival post-presidency. Despite the controversy, Widodo remains highly popular, boasting a 76% approval rating, which may shield him from significant electoral consequences.

However, the support for Prabowo’s campaign, influenced by Widodo, could lead to an unexpected alliance between the other candidates, Ganjar and Anies, to dilute Prabowo’s votes and force a run-off election. The ideological mismatch of such an alliance poses challenges, potentially alienating certain voter groups.

As the election unfolds, Widodo’s involvement in hand-picking his successor may set a new precedent for future Indonesian presidents, leaving the impact on the country’s democracy uncertain. The evolving dynamics underscore the complexities of Indonesian politics.