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The Soekarno dynasty is arguably Indonesia’s first and most successful political family, able to count two presidents and the country’s largest political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), as its legacy. Soekarno was the nation’s founding father and first president, and his daughter, Megawati, its fifth, and to date only female, president from 2001-2004. Today Megawati continues to lead the family party, which has played a significant role in Indonesia’s democratic consolidation.
However, with Megawati failing twice in her attempts to re-capture the presidency, in 2014 the decision was made to put forward a ‘proxy’ nominee for the party’s presidential bid. As history tells us, their choice, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, proved a very good one. Now, six years later, with Jokowi in his second and final term, the issue of a successor is on the table again, and with it questions about the ability of the Soekarno dynasty to regenerate and hold on to its power.
What are the characteristics that have seen the Soekarno dynasty survive and thrive for three generations? What are the challenges of regeneration facing the Soekarno family? Has the dynasty weakened its own position by its decision to elevate Jokowi to the presidency? And as members of the president’s own family seek to enter politics via the upcoming regional head elections (pilkada), is Jokowi looking to create a political dynasty of his own to rival that of the Soekarnos?
To discuss these questions and more, Dr Jemma Purdey chats to Associate Professor Marcus Mietzner, from the College of Asia and the Pacific at Australian National University. He has written extensively on the Soekarno dynasty and PDI-P.
In 2020, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from the Australia-Indonesia Centre and Deakin University, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.
Photo by Marcus Mietzner.