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There was a new kid on the block in national politics ahead of Indonesia's 2014 elections. Joko Widodo (often called Jokowi), gained tremendous popularity among Indonesians when he was Governor of Jakarta (2012-2014). This popularity was based on his humble background as well as his humble behavior, his eagerness to reform existing structures and patterns, and his “pro-people” attitude. Previously, Widodo (who is an ex-furniture businessman) had been mayor of Solo (Central Java) from 2005 to 2012. His time as mayor was a success. However, he would really step into the national spotlight once he had won Jakarta’s gubernatorial election in 2012.
What is also interesting to note is that Widodo’s running mate in the 2012 gubernatorial election of Jakarta was Christian and ethnic Chinese Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok). This would later backfire as it fed religious tensions and it would actually have far-reaching consequences for Indonesian politics (the steep rise in Islamic conservatism in Indonesia in recent years is directly linked to the Ahok’s presence in Jakarta in our opinion).
After barely 18 months working as Jakarta governor, Widodo had become so popular that many people started to see a potential presidential candidate in him. One of the reasons why Widodo had become very popular was his blusukan practice (which he had started during his time as mayor of Solo). The term blusukan, a Javanese word, refers to an inspection visit to the field. Widodo would regularly pay an unannounced visit to specific population centers, such as slums or markets, and talk and listen to local residents about the issues they are facing (for example related to food prices, housing difficulties, flooding and transportation). In combination with his modest character and appearance as well as his soft-spoken demeanor, Widodo garnered plenty of positive media coverage. Widodo and Ahok were in fact portrayed as the Batman and Robin of Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta due to their decisive and swift action as well as pro-people attitude and policies.
What is also worth pointing out, is that Widodo - contrary to basically all high-profile Indonesian politicians - does not originate from the country’s traditional political, religious or military elite. This was positive because in Indonesia many people perceive the traditional political powers (as well as political institutions such as parliament) as corrupt. Widodo came from outside these circles (and had not been entangled in corruption during his time in Solo and Jakarta), therefore he is perceived as a ‘clean’ politician.
This article discusses the following:
• Politics under the Widodo administration: relations with parliament and military
• Economy under the Widodo administration: government spending, infrastructure development, investment, macroeconomic indicators
Read the full article in the April 2019 edition of our monthly research report. You can purchase the report by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a WhatsApp message to the following number: +62(0)8788.410.6944
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