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Tue. September 25, 2018
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Will President Joko Widodo Lead Indonesia for Another 5 Years?
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Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) came from an unusual family background, and unlike most of his predecessors he was born into a middle-class family. He worked in the furniture industry during his early 20s and slowly made his way up into the political theater. Having been able to create the image of honest and people centric politician, he caught the eye of PDIP (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) leader and ex-President Megawati Sukarno Puteri. Through her blessing, Jokowi was made to become a PDIP (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) candidate for 2014 Presidential election. He managed to swipe a victory from Prabowo Subianto, an ex-Army general and Suharto’s son in law. His first term in office was considerably rough and difficult. The parliament was controlled by the opposition, disunity existed in the cabinet and he faced opposition from his own party. However, Jokowi began to gain higher ground in 2016, when he managed to secure a majority in the parliament after PAN (National Mandate Party) decided to defect from the opposition. A greater political stability gave Jokowi the chance to re-shape Indonesia’s economic and political arena to his own liking.

Jokowi’s consolidation of political power can be seen through the recent changes in his economic policies and personnel. In the mid of 2016, Jokowi re-shuffled his economic ministers and implemented infrastructure and trade law reforms. His government has managed to pass tax amnesty law effectively in mid-2016. The government has also introduced economic reform packages, in an effort to increase competitiveness of Indonesian market and to liberalize trade. While the Indonesian economy was affected by China’s economic slowdown, the economy remained resilient in general to global pressure. Jokowi’s government managed to stabilize the economy by mid-2016 and GDP managed to go up by 0.3% from 4.9% to 5.1%. Besides his economic reform packages, Jokowi also reshuffled his economic and national development ministers team. President Jokowi appointed Sri Mulyani, a former finance minister from the Yudhoyono government and served as the managing director of the World Bank from 2005 to 2010. A respectable economist with a good track record, her appointment was hailed by the international community. Other than that, Jokowi has made numbers of high profile foreign trips to countries like India, Iran, United States and some European states. The purpose of this trip was to promote Indonesian exports and products. Jokowi wants to increase the volume of Indonesian export to foreign market to compete with other countries like China or India. During his trip to European nations, he resumed negotiations with European officials on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Besides that, Jokowi has also showed a strong ambition and interest in developing Indonesia’s infrastructure. He understands that infrastructure is vital for development. Researcher Estache and Fay found his beliefs are true because research has shown that there are strong correlations between improvement on infrastructure to high level of productivity and economic growth. Thus, inequality and poverty can be tackled in the long run through the development of infrastructure. His administration has set a target of building 15 airports, power plants with a capacity of 35,000 watts and 9 million hectares of agriculture land. Other than that, Jokowi’s economic team has concentrated in building up more dams, highways and railways. Jokowi also wants more forms of transportation and infrastructure for local villages and smaller cities. In the long run, President Jokowi hopes that there will be more trade link between urban and rural areas. President Jokowi also resumed a number of high profile projects that have been stalled during Yudhoyono’s era. For example, Jokowi recently recently met the locals in Sabang to resume talks and construction of Seunara reservoir construction project. The project would provide enough water supply for the local community and also open another opportunity for water tourism or aquaculture.

Due to his commitment in rebuilding Indonesia’s infrastructure, Jokowi’s approval rating climbed to an all-time high. According to FT Confidential Research, his approval rating now stands at 53.7%. Despite having stumbled in his first year of presidency, Jokowi managed to rebound. This is largely due to people’s overall satisfaction of Jokowi’s performance in rebuilding Indonesia’s economy starting from its foundation. Compared to Jokowi’s contender in 2014 election, Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi’s approval rating has doubled. Based on this recent survey and track record, it is very likely that Jokowi will rule Indonesia for another 5 years. However, it is still unclear on who will be his running mate in the 2019 Presidential Election. 

Adritho Zaifar is a final year student in Monash University Malaysia. Currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts (Social Science) majoring in International Studies. 

References:

http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/ps/i.do?&id=GALE|A489246979&v=2.1&u=monash&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w (1)

http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/00074918.2016.1249262 (2)

https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/article/658018 (3) Jokowi Consolidates Power

https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/article/627456 (4) Indonesia’s Infrastructure Development under the Jokowi Administration

http://jakartaglobe.id/archive/aceh-papua-jokowis-infrastructure-visions/ (5) From Aceh to Papua: Jokowi’s Infrastructure Visions

http://asiahouse.org/jokowi-approval-rating-climbs-infrastructure-development/ (6) Jokowi approval rating climbs on infrastructure development

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