Jokowi’s Return To Power In Indonesia


 After a month long wait, Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has been declared to have won the presidential election in Indonesia. The elections in Indonesia were held on April 17. Alongside the elections for President and Vice President; elections were also held for the People’s Consultative Assembly and the local legislative bodies.

Having completed the complicated process of conducting the elections at all levels in only a day, involving 154 million voters and hundreds of islands in an archipelagic nation, the General Election Commission of Indonesia (KPU) confirmed the results of April 17 polling on May 21.

Jokowi’s win gets more interesting in the wider Asian context, where, with the victory of Mr. Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance in India, and Scott Morrison’s victory in Australia, three leading neighbouring democratic countries have completed their biggest collective festival of democratic elections with the people of these countries speaking their hearts in the form of ballots.

Interestingly, in all the three countries, these three incumbent leaders were speculated to be facing a tough electoral battle. That, however, did not prove correct as Jokowi in Indonesia, Modi in India, and Morrison in Australia- all have comfortably won and have returned to their respective offices.

In the election, Jokowi won more than 55 percent votes, totalling more than 85 million votes. His rival Prabowo Subianto, who is former Special Forces commander, could secure around only 45 percent of votes. Prabowo fought against Jokowi in 2014 also but lost the election. In 2019, Jokowi’s margin of victory clearly demonstrates the popular support he enjoys among the people of Indonesia.

With regard to the People’s Consultative Assembly (National Assembly) seats also, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), which is led by Jokowi, emerged as largest party with 27 million votes. PDIP was followed by the Garindra party which gathered 17.6 million votes.

However, following the electoral victory of Jokowi, controversy regarding the result cropped up as Prabowo and his supporters refused to accept the mandate terming the electoral process unfair and biased. Prabowo’s refusal has led to riots in Jakarta, and it is reported that six people were killed and more than 200 were injured in riots allegedly spurred by Prabowo’s sympathisers. Nevertheless, the situation seems to be under control now, though the social media platforms have been blocked for a while to pre-empt the flaring-up of any untoward incident.

Prabowo has decided to challenge the results in the constitutional court, a move that he had made even last time, but failed. A similar outcome is expected even this time around as the opposition has not been able to provide credible evidence that could support their claims of electoral fraud.

With the re-election of both President Jokowi and Prime Minister Modi, India-Indonesia relations are poised to upgrade to the next level. India and Indonesia have shared interests and concerns on a range of issues including regional peace and stability, economic growth, and fighting traditional and non-traditional security challenges. In addition to ASEAN-led mechanisms such as East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum, the two countries are also members of important forums such as the G20.

During the 2018 Indonesia visit of Mr. Modi, the two countries elevated their relationship to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum and India’s ‘Act East’ Policy and the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) have several commonalities which brings their strategic and economic priorities in sync with each other. Bilateral trade between the two countries is worth US$ 20 billion. During the Indian Prime Minister’s Indonesia visit, the two countries had pledged to increase bilateral trade to US$ 50 billion by 2025.

With a renewed five-year mandate at hand, the two political leaders are likely to further their country’s interests through mutual cooperation, which needs to be done through removal of impediments to trade and investment, and joint exploration of new vistas of cooperation.


Script: Dr. Rahul Mishra, Strategic Analyst On East & South East Asia