Indonesia has made history by carrying out elections simultaneously on April 17, 2019, to elect the president, vice president and legislators—a reflection of its form of popular democracy. For the first time in the history of elections in the country’s era of reformation, the level of voter participation was very high compared with previous elections. In the 2014 election, for example, voter participation reached around 70 per cent; however, in the 2019 election, the voter turnout reached 80.9 per cent, far beyond the government’s target of 77.5 per cent. The number of abstentions (golput), or groups that do not use their voting rights, also fell below 20 per cent. This shows that the elected president has a strong legitimate basis for carrying out the regulations of the government.
The people have made up their minds. Joko Widodo— familiarly called Jokowi—who is paired with K.H. Ma’ruf Amin as vice president, is once again being trusted to lead the Republic of Indonesia, this time for the period of 2019 to 2024. The election of Joko Widodo as the eighth president of the Republic of Indonesia has deep meaning. First, it is a symbol of the people’s victory over the slander, hatred, accusations, and false information that, in the months leading up to the election, dominated the political sphere in Indonesian communities. The people have proven themselves smart enough to choose their leaders based on their track records, achievements, and dedication to the nation.
Secondly, Jokowi’s victory was a victory of Indonesia’s optimism over pessimistic narratives, threats to tolerance, and a vote for the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI). It proved that people wish Indonesia to continue to exist as it is now, and even to progress even faster, and not to become extinct, disbanded, or split due to a rise in issues of the politics of identity during the campaign period.
Furthermore, Jokowi’s victory is also recognition of the high level of satisfaction and public trust in the performance and achievements of his government as a leader who was born from the people, and who has closely grown together with them, fighting for their interests. Jokowi has been a long time coming and he is the real deal—his slogan of “Work, Work, Work!”, adopted when he was elected president in 2014, has turned out not to be a gimmick but a mantra. But more than any slogan or campaign promises, Jokowi is a man of action. Entering the fifth year of his presidency, his achievements have been noted and voted for. That so much had been achieved did not just give him a strong platform from which to fight the elections but also helped Indonesians feel a sense of national pride that their country is respected and influential on the international political and economic stage.
This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstand, or subscribe here.