Indonesia says goodbye to their once autocratic government with the announcement of new president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, in the world’s third largest democracy. Former president Prabowo Subianto admitted to cheating tactics in the voting process, further proving the need for a new government structure.
Before the results were announced, Reuters conducted a short interview and got a glimpse of Indonesia’s promising future. Jokowi vowed, “to simplify life for investors by beefing up the country’s threadbare infrastructure, unravel near impenetrable regulations and sack ministers if they were not up to the job.”
The Indonesian president shows the drive necessary to create honest and helpful change for the economy, by reinforcing the weak spots and softening regulation to allow greater variety of imports and exports. Jokowi presents an openness not before seen in the Indonesian government. He wants input from not solely businessmen, but also from ordinary men and women.
In most of Indonesia’s elections, the winners tend to come from the same circle of top tier businessmen, who collude with one another to put at least one of their party in power. Jokowi reigns from the middle class, proudly not a member of the elitist party.
With the victory in place, Jokowi has his work cut out for him. One of his most difficult tasks for the near future will be cutting into fuel subsidies that consume a fifth of the annual budget and create heavy distortion within the economy.
Jokowi’s biggest supporters have been students, both in Indonesia and abroad. Upon the announcement of his win, students gathered in celebration. The Jakarta Post interviewed a number of them, receiving positive feedback from every direction.
Fenty Forsyth, a multi-cultural activist in Brisbane, acknowledged, “The fact is that it is easy to divide Indonesia. To pit people against one another is a chronic disease that has to be cured. It is not easy but it is not impossible.” Many agree that Jokowi sees the divide and will be able to create tangible change for people.
Jokowi’s struggles as president-elect do not go unnoticed by surrounding territories. As the new leader-to-be of the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Jokowi has the potential to build and burn bridges between Indonesia and China yet again. If China wants something from Indonesia, they will push hard to see if they get a response – a typical plan of action for China when it comes to handling new leaders in the area.
Even with the threat of aggressive tactics, it’s unlikely Jokowi will succumb to the pressure. His feet are grounded in Indonesian soil, with the country’s priorities in the forefront of his mind.
Sources: Reuters, Jakarta Post, Bloomberg