When campaigning, presidential candidates will always promise a bright future in order to gain votes. It is particularly easy for a new presidential candidate to promise golden mountains as opposed to the incumbent president who needs to be more cautious making promises as people can point to the (failed) results of his promises during the presidential term. The 2014 Indonesian presidential election was particularly interesting as we saw two new presidential candidates and, thus, the ‘inflation of promises’.
Incumbent Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) could not participate in the 2014 election due to the two-term limit to the presidential seat. If he could participate, he would probably fail to play an influential role in the election as his administration has increasingly been criticized for failing to turn Indonesia into a stronger country. Although there are plenty of positive points to mention about the two SBY administrations - solid economic growth (although declining toward the end of his rule), good international relations, successful poverty reduction, relatively few cases of regional/ethnic/religious violence -, a series of high level corruption cases, some of which close to SBY, made people doubt about SBY’s ability and strength to lead the nation. Moreover, economic growth (which in the modern era constitutes an important legitimation for political power) has been in a state of decline since 2011 (falling from 6.5 percent year-on-year in 2011 to possible 5.3 percent yoy in 2014) and thus eroded his entitlement to hold political power.
In Indonesia’s 2014 presidential election only two individuals could play a role, and both made their debut as presidential candidate. As the SBY-administration has been slowly ‘bleeding to death’ in recent years amid declining economic growth and corruption cases, both new candidates - Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto - were able to make many promises to the Indonesian people about improving the current state of the country. In fact, it led to an ‘inflation of promises’. Particularly controversial former army general Subianto used this strategy to gain votes, and not unsuccessfully (as he lost the election by a narrow margin only). For example, he claimed to be able to increase the country’s economic growth to a pace of +10 percent yoy. Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi) has been more realistic. However, his targets and promises are still very ambitious.
After it became official that Jokowi has won the 2014 presidential election (announced by the General Elections Commission, or KPU, on Tuesday), it is worth making a list of Jokowi’s ambitions, strategies and promises.
Goals of the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla Pair:
| Ambitions, Strategies & Promises
|• A united, politically dignified nation, self-sufficient economy with a cultural personality
• Becoming a global civilization hub
|• Paperless bureaucracy (e-budgeting, e-purchasing, e-audit, e-taxation to improve transparency and combat fraud)
• Improve tax revenue
• Ministers that don't show good performance will be sacked
• About 20% of cabinet ministers will be people from the political parties that backed Jokowi
|• GDP growth at +7 percent
• Shift focus from the more developed western part to the eastern part (for example electricity development)
• Heavy infrastructure development; roads, ports, airports and industrial zones (particularly in eastern Indonesia)
• Untangling bureaucracy; implementing an one-door policy for investors and business permit issuance thus seriously speeding up permit issuance procedures to attract foreign and domestic investments
|• Poverty eradication; cut fuel subsidies and increase fertilizer subsidies or irrigation infrastructure to support farmers
• Expand access to micro loans for low-income families
|• Protection of minority groups (religious, ethnic)
• Resolution of past human rights abuses
|• Indonesia should become global maritime axis
• Support for Palestinian independence
• Enhance protection for Indonesian migrant workers working abroad
|• Modernization of Indonesia's weapons systems
• Combat illegal fishing in Indonesian waters
• Boosting cber and 'hybrid' defense
|• Implement the 'mental revolution' spirit in the nation's school curriculum to increase competitiveness of future human resources
• 12-year mandatory education
|• Sit down to find a solution for the conflict between the Indonesian government and miners after implementation of the mineral ore export ban in January 2014
|• Reduce fuel and electricity subsidies to make funds available for more productive public investments
• Develop the country's renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on oil imports
• Boost domestic oil production; enhance oil recovery technology, better exploration schemes and foster an improved investment climate
|• Agriculture reform through allocation of nine million hectares of land for farmers
• Build cattle hubs in villages
|• Reforestation of two million hectares annually
It is interesting to note that Jokowi is the first ‘businessman’ that has become Indonesian president. Previous presidents in Southeast Asia’s largest economy were either people from within the political (or religious) elite or former army generals. Therefore, we may see a new style of leadership in the 2014-2019 period.