(with excerpts from the Diplomat by Niniek Karmini and Stephen Wright from The Diplomat on April 17, 2019.)
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been re-elected for another 5 year term over the nationalistic rhetoric of his rival, Prabowo Subianto.
This conclusion echos all over the world’s most populous Muslim society in the world. It is forecasted to be one of the world’s biggest economy by 2030. It is said that Jokowi’s re-election will enhance democratization of Indonesia.
Of course Jokowi’s opponent Subianto’s campaign team has alleged massive voter list irregularities, but analysts say the claims are absurd and designed to undermine the election. This is the same action he did after his defeat to Jokowi in 2014, claiming voting irregularities.
The balloting was a huge logistical exercise with 193 million people eligible to vote, more than 800,000 polling stations, and 17 million people involved in ensuring the polls ran smoothly. Helicopters, boats, and horses were used to get ballots to remote and inaccessible corners of the archipelago.
Conservative opponents had tried to discredit Jokowi, a furniture exporter whose political career started as a small city mayor, as insufficiently Islamic.
Jokowi tried to neutralize the not-a-real-Muslim whispers with the selection of Ma’ruf Amin, the leading Islamic cleric in Indonesia, as his running mate, though he risked alienating progressive and moderate supporters.
Pre-election polls consistently gave a lead of as much as 20 percentage points to Jokowi.
When his victory became clear, hundreds of Jokowi supporters marched through downtown Jakarta, some holding aloft a giant red and white Indonesian flag.
Jokowi’s campaign highlighted his progress in poverty reduction and improving Indonesia’s inadequate infrastructure with new ports, toll roads, airports, and mass rapid transit. The latter became a reality last month in chronically congested Jakarta with the opening of a subway.
Economic growth in Indonesia has been stable if unspectacular and inflation is low, maximizing the impact of poverty alleviation programs.