President of Indonesia
Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he is popularly known, became the President of Indonesia on October 20, 2014. He won 55% of the vote in the presidential elections which took place in July 2014; a victory margin of 4%. He is seen very much as a populist leader, not enjoying the support of religious scholars, nor coming from a wealthy or military background.
Birth: 21 June 1961 (Age: 56)
Source of Influence: Political
Influence: Leader of 252 million citizens and residents of Indonesia
School of Thought: Traditional Sunni
Status: Featured in current year
Background: President Widodo is the first Indonesian president not to be from the military or the political elite. He comes from a humble background of Javanese descent. His father had a small furniture business, which often couldn’t make ends meet. They struggled to put him through university, where he graduated in the field of forestry. After graduation, Widodo worked for three years in the forestry service of a state enterprise in Aceh before returning to his family business.
Successful and ‘Clean’ Politician: Widodo was the mayor of Surakarta before becoming the governor of Jakarta in September 2012.
Mayor of Surakarta: He was a successful mayor who enjoyed a close relationship with his constituents. He focused on promoting the city as a centre of Javanese culture, but also developed the public transport system, healthcare and business relations with the community. He forged a reputation for being a ‘clean’ politician, avoiding the charges of corruption and nepotism which plague most politicians.
Governor of Jakarta: His political success continued with his election as governor of Jakarta. He was equally successful as governor making meaningful reforms in education, public transportation, revamping street vendors and traditional markets, and implementing flood control.
Presidential candidacy: Various awards (3rd place of the 2012 World Mayor Prize, one of the ‘Top 10 Indonesian Mayors of 2008’) testified to his success as mayor and governor, and there was little surprise when Megawati Sukarnoputri, the former President of Indonesia, chose Widodo to be the presidential candidate of the PDI-P party. He has also enjoyed the support of many musicians and artists (he himself is reported to enjoy heavy metal music), and this helped him greatly on his presidential campaign.
Blusukan Culture: President Widodo has become well-known for impromptu visits to see and hear directly from people in local communities. This has allowed him to directly address their concerns and criticisms, allowing him to develop a strong personal relationship with the public.
High Expectations: There are high expectations of Widodo. Many will be expecting him to bring the success he had in his mayor and governor posts to his presidential post. He will be expected to maintain his promotion of transparency and accountability, and whether he will continue with methods such as blusukun is something that many people will keep an eye on. Economic growth levels have fallen to a 6 year low leading Widodo to court international investment.