Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has upheld the minimum age requirement for presidential and vice presidential candidates, but said there could be an exception for those who have held or been elected as regional leaders.
The decision leaves the door open for President Joko Widodo’s eldest son – who is 36 – to run for vice president in elections due next February.
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Chief Justice Anwar Usman, who is the president’s brother-in-law, led a panel of nine judges who on Monday rejected the petition to lower the minimum age to 35 years from 40.
The judges said determining the age limit should be left to parliament 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 having served a maximum 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 expected to run for the top job again. 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 – on the basis that it was discriminatory – fuelled speculation that Jokowi’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, was considering a run for the vice presidency, perhaps as Prabowo’s running mate.
The court had received seven judicial review requests calling for the age limit to be lowered, 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.
Gibran is currently the mayor of Surakarta city, also known as Solo, and has not publicly expressed an interest in contesting the February elections.
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 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.
Simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on February 14 next year.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies