What to Expect If Jokowi Triumphs
With their preponderant position in the first round of Jakarta’s gubernatorial election, Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, and his running mate Basuki Purnama Tjahaja (Ahok) have real political capital to be optimistic in Thursday’s runoff election. The fact that incumbent Fauzi Bowo and his running mate, Nachrowi Ramli, only managed to collect 34 percent of the votes compared to 43 percent for Jokowi and Ahok is a clear indication of how the majority of Jakartans have been longing for new leadership capable of providing effective solutions to the social and economic problems of the capital.
On top of that, Jokowi’s political background is quite different from Fauzi’s. While the former tends to capitalize on his populist style, the latter relies heavily on the function of the political machine of major political parties like the ruling Democratic Party, the Golkar Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the United Development Party (PPP).
Jokowi and his campaign team seem to realize that under the current environment Jakarta’s electorate is getting fed up with the corrupt practices that are rampant among the political parties.
When Ali Sadikin served as Jakarta’s governor in the 1970s he introduced bold policies that improved the social and economic conditions of Jakarta’s population despite the limited resources at his disposal. Now that the city government has an annual budget of Rp 144 trillion ($15 billion), it has a lot of opportunities to change the ugly face of the capital city.
If Jokowi wins this election, he might use his entrepreneurial background to maintain and even strengthen Jakarta’s position as a national and international business hub. Most likely he will combine pro-business policies with some affirmative action for the poor segments of the population. Thus, his economic policies will be characterized by a “growth with equity” strategy. That way he can sustain high economic growth and improve the economic well-being of poor people.
However, there is no guarantee that Jokowi’s success as Solo mayor can be reproduced in the more complex environment of Jakarta. But as far as bureaucratic reform is concerned, he has better credentials than his incumbent opponent. One of the reasons Fauzi did poorly in the first round of the elections was that in the eyes of many Jakartans, he has not made real progress in cleaning up the corrupt practices of the city’s bureaucracies. Thus, there is a strong foundation of voters who believe that Jokowi and his running mate will make breakthroughs in improving the quality of public services in the city.
When Jokowi was asked during a TV debate how he would deal with the problems of traffic jams and floods in Jakarta, he did not give the impression that he had a quick solution.
However, he managed to get to the heart of the matter by envisioning a more integrated approach by strengthening the coordination with other city governments around Jakarta. Such coordination may not be easy, but with his strong commitment to do his best for the people, it is likely that at least Jokowi will not repeat the sheer indifference of his predecessor.
Aleksius Jemadu is dean of the School of Social and Political Sciences at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Karawaci.