Indonesia’s seventh president Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi), who will take office in late October 2014 thereby replacing incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), said that during the next five years the Indonesian government will consist of 34 ministries of which 18 are headed by technocrats and 16 by “professional” party politicians. This structure is basically the same as that of the current SBY-led government. In modern Indonesian history the distinction between technocrats and party politicians has been an important one.
Indonesian Technocrats versus Political Party Politicians
Technocrats are those professionals - who generally enjoyed high education abroad - who are not affiliated to Indonesian political parties. They usually make their name by having a career in leading Indonesian (or foreign) companies or as university lecturers. After making their name known they are asked to join government institutions and then grow within the ranks of these institutions. However, there are also cases in which the technocrat is directly asked to become a minister (or deputy minister) without needing to grow within the ranks of government institutions. Jokowi said on Monday (15/09) that the Ministries of Finance, State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN) and Agriculture would be among those led by the technocrats.
Political party politicians, on the other hand, are those that are affiliated to political parties. In Indonesia these politicians are not popular as political parties are generally regarded as containing a high level of corruption. Growing within the ranks of a political party tends to be influenced by money and nepotism, rather than political skills or professionalism. It is thus no surprize that the political corruption (graft) scandals in Indonesia usually involve party politicians. Contrary to technocrats, party politicians often need to take into account the views of their political party when making or implementing policy. Among the Indonesian people there exists distrust toward the party politician. However, Jokowi will need to allocate some ministries to party politicians in order to obtain support from political parties. Although some of the political party politicians are indeed experts in their fields (“professional party politician”), there is still a high level of popular distrust toward this group due to their proximity to political parties.
The Jokowi-administration, which will focus on food sovereignty and maritime issues, will contain less deputy ministers than the current SBY-led cabinet although Jokowi said that the minister for Foreign Affairs would still need a deputy minister. Jokowi and running mate Jusuf Kalla declined to mention any names yet.