‘Cawe-cawe’: President Jokowi says meddling in 2024 election his moral obligation

File photo of President Joko Widodo. Photo: Instagram/@jokowi
File photo of President Joko Widodo. Photo: Instagram/@jokowi

Today we learned that cawe-cawe is Javanese for “meddling,” and it’s knowledge we wouldn’t obtain had President Joko Widodo pledged to remain completely neutral in next year’s presidential election.

Jokowi, who is serving his second and final term, sparked controversy by saying that he will intervene in the 2024 presidential election to ensure a smooth transition of power. He first made the statement during a meeting with media leaders at the Presidential Palace on May 29.

Today, he doubled down on his stance during his party PDI-P’s national work meeting in Jakarta.

“Cawe-cawe is my moral obligation as a president during a period of national leadership transition,” Jokowi said.

To be fair, the president never explicitly said that he will influence the outcome of the election. Instead, he implied that he will use his powers to ensure a smooth electoral process.

“How could I be told to remain silent if somebody were to cause chaos that could endanger the nation?” he added.

Despite his claim of no influence, Jokowi did notably meet with six party leaders in early May to discuss the upcoming election. The president afterwards expressed his wish that his successor would have the vision and the drive to continue all that he has built in 10 years.

Jokowi’s admission of intervention has divided public opinion and drawn criticism from opposition parties and civil society groups. They accused him of violating the principles of democracy and undermining the independence and neutrality of the election organizers.

Indonesia is heading to the polls on Feb. 14, 2024. Among the frontrunners for the presidency are Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, and former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

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