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Is the Duterte-Marcos rift a glimpse into the future of the Jokowi-Prabowo alliance?

Is the Duterte-Marcos rift a glimpse into the future of the Jokowi-Prabowo alliance?


Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. at the Presidential Palace in Bogor on September 5, 2022. Photo by the Presidential Secretariat Press Office.

The Philippines has recently been embroiled in a public political conflict between President Bongbong Marcos Junior and his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, who is also the father of Sara Duterte, the current vice president. The divide threatens to destabilize the current government, less than two years after the 2022 presidential election.

Several experts have comparisons made between the Prabowo-Widodo and Marcos-Duterte alliances. Both Jokowi and Duterte are popular nationalist figures from outside the political establishment, and both have sought to extend their influence beyond constitutionally mandated presidential terms by installing their children as running mates of the country's presidential candidates. establishment.

In fact, the nomination of Joko Jokowi Widodos' son Gibran Rakabuming Raka as Prabowo Subiantos' running mate was a major turning point in Indonesia's 2024 presidential election. After an on-and-off relationship with his party, the Democratic Party of Indonesian Struggle (PDIP), Jokowi leaned towards Prabowo and his Gerindra Party.

The political calculus made sense for both parties heading into the election. Through the partnership between Gibran and Prabowo, Jokowi could in theory retain his influence over policymaking processes during a Prabowo presidency. Meanwhile, Prabowo needed Jokowi and Gibran to get elected. Gibran helped him connect with young people, and Jokowi's endorsement helped build broad support for Prabowo's key policies, such as free lunch and milk for schoolchildren.

Gibran, like Sara Duterte in the Philippines, is a symbol of mutual trust between Jokowi and Prabowo for the next five-year term. But does the recent Duterte-Marcos conflict offer any lessons about the long-term viability of these power-sharing arrangements? And does this expose possible fault lines to watch out for in the Indonesian context?

What is driving the Marcos-Duterte divide?

In the Philippines, Bongbong Marcos is determined to rehabilitate his family name after the impeachment of his late father, President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Senior, in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Rodrigo Duterte has been unwilling to retire calmly.

Likewise, Prabowo, dismissed from the Indonesian army for misinterpreting orders in 1999 and long accused of serious human rights violations, has struggled for decades to vindicate his reputation through the presidency. Meanwhile, Jokowi, still hugely popular but barred from office by a two-term limit, is clearly reluctant to turn his back on power.

Duterte and Marcos, like Jokowi and Prabowo, have always been strange bedfellows, but few expected the alliance to deteriorate so quickly. One of the causes of their political division was the reduction of a confidential budget assigned to the vice president. This sparked a series of harsh criticisms of Bongbong from Rodrigo Duterte, even going so far as to accuse them of drug useabuse of power and discussions on a succession of Mindanao to the Philippines.

The criticisms come after several policy reversalsince Bongbong Marcos took office, including shifting away from China toward a more U.S.-friendly foreign policy and opening the door for the International Court of Justice to investigate the violent anti-drug war initiated by Duterte.

These maneuvers angered Rodrigo Duterte, who wants to maintain his legacy as the 2025 midterm elections approach. Even if the gap between two presidents seems to have calmed for the moment, it shows how quickly the Political alliances between former presidents and their successors can collapse.

Fault lines to watch out for in Indonesia

The Philippine phenomenon could offer lessons about the future of the Jokowi-Prabowo alliance. The first lesson is that personalities can play an important role in the stability of political partnerships. Regardless of talk of privileged relationships before elections, ultimately power-sharing arrangements between influential dynasties can quickly be upended by political self-centeredness.

Self-centeredness and legacy building could very easily destabilize the Prabowo-Widodo partnership. Personal slights were said to be the catalyst for the public division between Jokowi and his party leader, Megawati Soekarnoputri. Additionally, Prabowo, like Duterte, has a famous character and is prone to public outbursts.

Prabowo campaigned on a platform of continuing the Jokowi administration's current policy agendas, such as capital relocation and infrastructure development. Prabowo also borrowed Jokowis' Advanced Indonesia vision as the name for his party coalition. Maintaining the status quo made sense for Prabowo throughout the election campaign, given Jokowi's popularity, but as president-elect, Prabowo will surely have his own policies and programs and they will likely ultimately be his real priority .

Jokowi is taking steps to strengthen the vice president's office ahead of the transition to Prabowo, trying to give authority to a new agglomeration council tasked with managing the greater Jakarta area after the capital's move. This suggests that any attempt by Prabowo to reduce the vice president's power could lead to a rift between Jokowi and Prabowo, much like the one currently dividing the Duterte-Marcos alliance in the Philippines.

The same geopolitical forces that shape strategic parameters in the Philippines may also divide Prabowo and Jokowi in Indonesia. Jokowi's international commitment emphasis was placed on economic diplomacy and the attraction of foreign direct investment, particularly from China. He made a concerted effort to emphasize neutrality amid growing great power competition between China and the United States.

Prabowos' foreign policy remains less clear. Certainly, he is committed to defending Indonesia's long-standing position. principle of non-alignmenthowever, its a fiery brand of nationalism and support for security partnerships with the United States could become a flashpoint for tensions with China and Jokowi.

For now, the unlikely friendship between Jokowi and Prabowo still appears healthy. Recently, Jokowi awarded Prabowo an honorary four-star general rank, a move that drew criticism from civil society activists, but which undoubtedly pleased Prabowo, a former general who always coveted that position. extra star.

It remains to be seen how long this will last after Prabowo's inauguration on October 20, 2024.




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