Joko Widodo the current Governor of Jakarta is the man who has won the elections to become the next Indonesian president. His increasing popularity as a clean politician made him a potential PDI-P candidate for the Indonesian presidential election in 2014 and ultimately his nomination was announced on 14 March 2014. He won the presidential election by more than 53% of the votes over his opponent Prabowo Subianto. He will officially be sworn-in and take charge of the Republic of Indonesia as the president on 20 October 2014.
After the PDI –P chief Megawati Sukarnoputri chose Joko Widodo to be the presidential candidate of her party there was a lot of campaigning that was done to make sure they emerge victorious. Widodo along with others travelled to many parts of Indonesia. Already his work while he was the mayor in Surakarta and the governor in Jakarta, had paved a way for his victory. His interest in loud music also benefitted him as many musicians from around Indonesia like Jalanan made a song titled Salam 2 Jari to promote his campaign. Also many international artists like Jason Mraz, Sting, Bumblefoot and Arkarna even posted for him on Twitter and Facebook supporting him.
Recently when he was in Jakarta he was provided with countless security officers. He rejected to be accompanied by so many officers and agreed to take four of them along with him. He is one man who believes that he does not need protocol to manage things. He is people's man and does not want anyone to come in their way to meet him. He also persuades his fellow political leaders to follow the same so that they can do their work efficiently. He says that the horizontal leadership era is the new democracy in Indonesia and everyone should put an end to the inefficient vertical relationship model. Widodo has risen from the slums to become the most powerful man of Indonesia. Let us see his journey from the ground to where he is now and how he made it all possible.
Widodo was the oldest of four children and the only son of Noto Mihardjo and Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo born in Surakarta in Central Java in 1961. As his family was very poor they struggled to assist him through school. He had to work to earn enough money for his school materials. The evictions he experienced three times in his childhood affected his way of thinking and his leadership later on as the mayor of Surakarta. He eventually graduated with a degree in forestry from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta in 1986. He was married to Iriana after his graduation.
Jokowi initially joined the forestry service of a state enterprise in Aceh. He was not feeling at home and missing his wife who was seven months pregnant. Hence in the year 1989 he returned to his hometown and worked with his uncle to learn the furniture business and mastered it from design to delivery. Then he started his own branch of a small furniture business which ran successful but had to be closed due to some fraud.
It was his performance as the mayor of Solo that first gained him attention with his ability to resolve issues like floods, dirty streets and slums. Initially many people doubted his ability as he was just a furniture businessman but after a year in office Jokowi had successfully led many progressive breakthroughs which became widely praised. His leadership style included an interactional relationship with the people of Solo through which he was able to induce people's strong faith in him. He adopted the development framework of European cities into his own city of Surakarta. His supporters pointed to rapid positive changes in Surakarta under his leadership. Jokowi also did not hesitate to dismiss investors who did not agree with the principles of his leadership. He was chosen as the Tempo's Leaders of Choice by Tempo news magazine (2008) and received Changemakers Award from Republika newspaper (2010) and his name also started being considered in national polls for governorship of Jakarta way before his party nomination of him to run for the post.
By 2012, he was elected the governor of Jakarta. He followed the practice of regularly arranging well-publicized visits to local communities especially in quite poor areas across Jakarta. His broad approach was widely said to reflect the successful style of administration that he adopted while he was the mayor of Surakarta between 2005 and 2007. He introduced a universal health care program in and distributed Healthy Jakarta Card and the program proved to be very popular. In 2012 he launched another card named the Smart Jakarta Card to support poor students in Jakarta. This card gave an allowance that can be withdrawn from ATMs in order to buy school needs such as books and uniforms and was constantly monitored and use for any other purposes was not allowed. Only through transparency, efficiency, e-catalog, and e-budgeting he was successful in increasing the provincial budget of Jakarta from Rp 41 trillion in 2012 to Rp 72 trillion in 2014. He also initiated dredging and reservoir normalization projects in order to reduce flood problems in the year 2013.
Widodo’s is the first Indonesian president who is not from among Indonesia’s elites club and his entry is as a refreshing break from the three decades of Suharto’s dictatorship. With a lean and tanned physique which is totally in contrast to the image of Jakarta's politicians who call him a villager but he appears to have the last laugh now after being announced as the next president of Indonesia who will join his office from October. There is a challenge in the country of 250 million people that he would be tested by the powerful army, the political and business elites which he does not know. The question his critics are asking is for how long he will continue to visit the slums when he will have the massive task of running the rambling country?