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Jokowi President

Jokowi New President

23 July 2014

Jakarta’s governor Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has won the presidential election with 53 percent of the vote, as the the General Elections Commission announced on Tuesday. His rival, former General Prabowo Subianto, received 47 percent of the almost 135 million votes cast in the 9 July election. 

Even before the final results were announced, Prabowo withdrew from the race, claiming that the voting process had been irregular and that fraud had taken place. Prabowo’s spokesman said they were preparing to appeal to Indonesia’s constitutional court. Such an appeal has to take place within 3 days of the announcement of the election results. Analysts believe that Jokowi’s margin of 6% would suffice even if some irregularities were to be found. A ruling has to be made by 22 August.

In his acceptance speech, Jokowi called for unity in Indonesia after an election that split the country. Jokowi is the first person who is not from political or military elite to be elected as president. He is also the first to have previous experience as mayor and governor.

Following the results, Jokowi was congratulated by US President Obama, Malaysian Prime Minister Razak, European Commission President Barroso, and Australian Prime Minister Abbott. According to the Jakarta Post, Barroso stressed the role of civil society and professional management by the election authorities in Indonesia’s democracy. He further emphasized the close partnership based on shared values and said the EU was ‘looking forward to working with [Joko Widodo] to further strengthen cooperation in the years to come’.  

Jokowi had become immensely popular during his time as mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta. His leadership style and reputation of being close to the people have raised high hopes for his presidency. While Prabowo’s appeal will hamper the transition of power, the situation is not likely to improve after Jokowi takes office on 20 October. Jokowi’s coalition only holds around one third of seats in the parliament, whereas Prabowo’s coalition holds the other two thirds. Among the challenges to tackle are a hotly-debated fuel subsidy scheme, reforms in health care, and corruption.