The Jakarta Post
The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the winner of the 2019 presidential election early on Tuesday morning, giving the president a second and final term in office.
Jokowi captured 55.5 percent of the vote or over 85 million votes, 17 million more than rival Prabowo Subianto, who received over 68 million votes or 44.5 percent of the vote.
The victory had been forecast by reputable pollsters in the country, including the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Cyrus Network, which forecast his victory against Prabowo at 55.6-44.4.
Jokowi won 21 of 34 provinces while Prabowo won 13 provinces, most of which were in Sumatra.
Jokowi, who first gained prominence as the mayor of his hometown Surakarta, Central Java, was among the first batch of leaders to come to power through direct regional elections when they were first introduced in 2005.
Direct regional elections and regional autonomy were among the reforms that were enacted following the fall of the New Order in 1998, aiming to decentralize power and development from Jakarta and Java.
The former furniture businessman who is not a political royal and has no ties with the military later ascended to become Jakarta governor and was elected president in 2014.
CSIS researcher Noory Okthariza said Jokowi had set a precedent for a “normal person” who was not part of the political establishment to gain national office and get reelected.
“He was the first politician from outside the Jakarta elite to make it at the national level,” Noory told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “He showed that good performance at the local level could lead to bigger things. He also set a higher bar for regional heads.”
Regional Autonomy Watch executive director Robert Endi Jaweng said Jokowi’s ascendancy to the country’s highest office was evidence that regional autonomy and decentralization had been successful.
“During the New Order, it was mostly the military, [national-level] businessmen or academics who made it to high positions in the central government,” he told the Post. “Now, Jokowi has demonstrated that succeeding on a smaller scale can lead to achievements at the national level.”
Jokowi’s success marked the rise of other intellectuals and national elites that ran for regional posts.
Ganjar Pranowo, a fellow Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician and a seasoned lawmaker ran for the Central Java governorship and is now serving his second term. Award-winning architect Ridwan Kamil is now West Java governor after a stint as Bandung mayor for five years.
Former education and culture minister and Muslim scholar Anies Baswedan was elected Jakarta governor while South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah was a successful business executive before leading Bantaeng regency for a decade.
“They will all have a chance at the presidency in 2024 and they are all from outside the New Order political establishment, which shows that Indonesia’s democracy is progressing,” said Noory.
The incumbent’s victory has also shown the limits to identity politics that gripped the country throughout campaign season.
In his 2019 presidential bid, Prabowo was supported by members of the 212 Alumni Brotherhood, which was linked to the massive sectarian rally on Dec. 2, 2016 staged to demand the prosecution of the Christian and Chinese-Indonesian Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
Director of Jakarta-based pollster Populi Center Usep S. Ahyar said Prabowo’s loss showed that identity politics was a limited political tool. “Prabowo won big in West Java and Banten, but lost quite badly in other parts of Java. Identity politics may work in those two provinces because of historical reasons but lack potency elsewhere,” he told the Post.
West Java was the birthplace of the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) movement, which started shortly after independence with the goal of turning the country into an Islamic state. “In other regions, such as Central and East Java, the influence of NU [Islamic mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama] and its more inclusive ideology made identity politics less effective,” he said.
Jokowi’s vice-presidential choice of senior Muslim cleric and former NU supreme leader Ma’ruf Amin was also deemed to have lessened the effects of identity politics.
Aside from Central and East Java, Jokowi also won in major parts of Kalimantan and eastern Indonesia, which are not predominantly Muslim.
Jokowi delivered his victory address on Tuesday afternoon, promising to improve social justice in the country in the next five years.
Jokowi also thanked Indonesians for entrusting the country’s leadership to him and Ma’ruf. “We will translate the trust and mandate from the public into development programs that will be equal and fair for all groups and classes throughout the regions,” Jokowi said.
Prabowo, who is apparently dissatisfied with the official result, is preparing to file a lawsuit at the Constitutional Court.
The Gerindra Party chairman who insisted there was massive and systematic fraud in the presidential election said he rejected the vote tally by the KPU.
“We’ll take all available legal avenues supported by the Constitution,” Prabowo said.