The nomination of Jakarta Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo as a presidential candidate by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle ( PDI-P ) on March 14 has ignited a political debate on his replacement, should Jokowi be elected in the next presidential election.
Actually, article 35 of the Law No. 32/2004 on regional administration clearly stipulates that the regional deputy head replaces a regional head who quits before his/her five-year term is completed. The article further rules that the replacement needs approval from the Regional Legislative Council ( DPRD ) and should be confirmed by the president.
Thus, under the law, Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama would replace Jokowi. There would be no cause for the Jakarta City Council, whose current relationship with Ahok is rocky at best, to reject his governorship since both Jokowi and Ahok were elected by the people.
Certain parties may think this discussion premature, but considering Jokowi's popularity, we believe it's not too early to start anticipating an Ahok-led Jakarta.
There is no doubt Ahok is capable of leading the capital. He has shown strong leadership in his 18 months as deputy, particularly in making the city bureaucracy more accountable.
As governor, however, Ahok would face tough challenges, not only come from city councilors, but also from members of mass organizations, who since the beginning have opposed Ahok, maybe because of his minority background as a Christian Chinese-Indonesian.
We believe that as long he continues to perform his duties and tackle the problems faced by the capital's citizens, then no party would be able to disrupt or oust him. He would, however, need public support for dealing with city councilors or others trying to thwart him. To maintain transparency and encourage their involvement he could continue to upload videos of his meetings onto YouTube.
The people have learned that Jokowi and Ahok have different leadership styles that complement one another. Jokowi, who often conducts impromptu visits around the city, has gained more popularity, while bad cop Ahok has struck fear into the hearts of city bureaucrats, particularly those whose interests are threatened by reform.
Though Ahok's direct, coarse style is sometimes an asset, as governor it would behoove him to tone it down a bit in dealing with city councilors, so long as he doesn't compromise his integrity. A working relationship with the City Council, which has the power to approve and dispense budget allocations, is necessary for him to execute his policy.
Due his minority status, Ahok will face challenges leading the city, but the people will stand behind him as long as he works for them.