World

Meet The Man Who Might Be Indonesia’s Next President

Jakarta governor and political reformer Joko Widodo declared victory in presidential elections on Wednesday, but official results won’t be out for weeks.

1. Meet Joko Widodo, the reformist governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and one of two presidential candidates in Wednesday’s election. Joko has declared victory, though official results won’t be out for weeks.

Darren Whiteside / Reuters

2. Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy and most populous Muslim nation. By the close of Wednesday’s elections, both Joko and his rival had declared victory, which could lead to a protracted stand-off.

Beawiharta / Reuters

Several independent polling firms predicted that Joko had won with 4 to 6% more of the votes based on voter samples taken at polling stations.

3. Joko is a self-made business man and was elected governor of Jakarta in 2012. He soon gained a reputation of being a humble leader in touch with the people, a break from the aloof demeanor of many other politicians in Indonesia.

Yusuf Ahmad / Reuters

A supporter of of Jakarta governor Joko Widodo celebrates after voting.

4. His opponent, Prabowo Subianto, is more controversial: Prabowo is a military man with no prior governing experience but strong business ties. He has also been accused of human rights violations during his tenure as head of Indonesia’s Special Forces.

Beawiharta / Reuters

5. Joko is the first presidential candidate who was not part of politics under General Shuharto, who ruled for 32 years and cracked down heavily on dissent. Prabowo, on the other hand, married Suharto’s daughter and his father advised the general.

Reuters / Reuters

Joko’s campaign has also had its ups and downs: In June, his 20% lead over Prabowo started to erode, in part because of a smear campaign falsely accusing Joko of being ethnic Chinese and Christian — controversial claims in a country with persisting racial and religious tensions. Critics of Joko also allege that the upstart politician lacks experience in both national and international affairs, and has yet to clarify key points in his political pledges.

The current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has ruled since 2004. The constitution bans him from seeking a third term. Under Yudhoyono, the country experience sustained economic growth, but continued to struggle with a persisting political culture of patronage and corruption.

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