News / Asia

    Jakarta Governor’s Presidential Nomination Shakes Up Indonesian Politics

    Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo talks with his supporters during a campaign event by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 16, 2014.
    Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo talks with his supporters during a campaign event by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 16, 2014.
    Kate Lamb
    The rise of Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, a former furniture retailer from a small town in Java, has become something of a political phenomenon in Indonesia. A relative outsider in a system dominated by political elites, many say Widodo is likely to be Indonesia’s next president.
     
    Even before it was certain he would run president, Joko Widodo, known widely here by his nickname ‘Jokowi,’ has dominated opinion polls for months.
     
    Dubbed the ‘Jokowi effect’ the current Jakarta governor is so popular that when it was confirmed just days ago that he would contest the July presidential election, the rupiah hit a 19-week high.
     
    In a society deeply divided by extremes of wealth, racked by corruption, and where politicians rarely mix with the populace outside election time, Widodo’s approach is unique.
     
    The 52-year-old politician is known for his down to earth style and has become famous for “blusukan,” his habit of impromptu spot checks that keep government officers wary.
     
    Endy Bayuni, a senior editor at the Jakarta Post, said the governor’s approach has captured the imagination of Indonesian voters. “I think most of all it is his personal character. He comes across as someone who is humble, low profile, honest, qualities that seem to be lacking among most of our politicians, and I think people like that,” he stated.
     
    The world’s third-largest democracy will go to the polls more than once this year, first in the parliamentary election this April and then in July for the subsequent presidential vote.
     
    To nominate a presidential candidate, a party, or a coalition of parties, must win at least 25 percent of the national vote in the April ballot.
     
    Announcing Joko Widodo’s presidential nomination last Friday afternoon, Megawati Sukarnoputri, the head of the Democratic Party of Struggle, executed brilliant political timing. Following months of intense speculation the party is now expected to draw at least 30 percent in the parliamentary vote.
     
    Douglas Ramage, a senior analyst with Bower Group Asia said Jokowi’s clean record speaks volumes. “He is perceived as overwhelmingly honest and sincere, which voters say is the number one quality they are looking for in a candidate. I think the voters have been pretty consistent for the past decade and in almost all the past surveys about what voters are looking for in a candidate, they are putting transparency, good governance and anti corruption at the top of the list,” he said.
     
    The governor’s biggest contender is Prabowo Subianto, a former army general accused of human rights abuses in East Timor, who is currently banned from traveling to the United States.
     
    Other candidates include wealthy businessman Aburizal Bakrie and Wiranto, another former general.
     
    As campaign season intensifies, each presidential candidate is working to present themselves as a common, man of the people, but in reality many have strong ties to the old regime.
     
    Artian Pratomo, from the independent group Solo Kota Kita, said that Widodo prioritized the needs of the most vulnerable long before he thought about becoming president.
     
    As Solo mayor, Widodo introduced basic healthcare and education for the poor and placed a strong emphasis on community consultation.
     
    “Actually he only did small things, but those small things were the principal part of the whole idea. Only small things but the implication, the impact, was very big, because he did it with a humanistic method,” said Pratomo.
     
    As head of the Jakarta administration for the past 18 months, Widodo has also earned praise for pragmatism and early efforts to revamp a desperately overrun metropolis.
     
    But despite his popularity, there are many unknowns.
     
    The governor’s grassroots approach might not work for the president’s office. Constituents know little of what he stands for at the national level.
     
    “We don't know how familiar he is with the economic challenges Indonesia faces, or even what is his foreign policy. We don't know how he views the strategic security interests of Indonesia, so there is so many question marks about Jokowi, but I think people are willing to take the chance,” Bayuni said.
     
    Fifteen years after the fall of dictator Suharto, the 2014 election will be the third time Indonesia democratically chooses its president.
     
    A total 186.5 million people are registered to vote in this year’s elections.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora