Indonesian court rules on presidential candidate eligibility | Elections News


The Constitutional Court rules the minimum age for candidates remains 40, and any change should come from lawmakers.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has upheld the minimum age requirement for presidential and vice presidential candidates, shutting down the possibility President Joko Widodo’s eldest son could run for vice president next year.

Chief Justice Anwar Usman, who is the president’s brother-in-law, led a panel of nine judges who rejected the petition to lower the minimum age to 35 years from 40.

The judges said determining the age limit was up to lawmakers and that the petition had no “reasoning according to law”.

The president, popularly known as Jokowi, is unable to contest the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections after serving a maximum of two terms in office. He was first elected in 2014.

The ruling Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has selected Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Central Java, as its candidate for the February 2024 elections. Prabowo Subianto, defence minister in Jokowi’s government, is also running for the top job. Before Jokowi appointed Prabowo to his cabinet in 2019, the two men were considered archrivals.

The constitutional challenge to the age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates fuelled speculation that Jokowi was looking for his son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is 36, to potentially run for the vice presidency.

The court’s ruling means Gibran is still unable to run.

The court had received seven judicial review requests calling for the age limit to be lowered to 35, including from the Indonesian Solidarity Party – known for its appeal to younger voters. Jokowi’s youngest son Kaesang Pangarep recently became the party’s chair.

a man rides a bicycle through a crowd of people
Gibran Rakabuming Raka is the son of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo [Anwar Mustafa/AFP]

Gibran is currently the mayor of Surakarta city, also known as Solo, and has not publicly expressed an interest in running in the February elections. But some politicians supporting Prabowo’s campaign had called for Gibran to become his running mate, further fuelling interest in the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

If one of Jokowi’s children does eventually run for president, he would not be the first Indonesian president to create a political dynasty.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, who became president in 2001, the first woman to do so, is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.

Even Prabowo, one of the leading candidates in the February 2024 elections, is the former son-in-law of Indonesia’s late dictator General Muhammad Soeharto.

Prabowo has been accused of rights abuses, including the kidnapping and disappearance of several pro-democracy activists, before Soeharto’s 32-year rule ended in 1998, although he has never been charged over the allegations.

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