Politics out of the box à la Jokowi

Subianto (left) and Jokowi Widodo shake hands (Jakarta Post)

Subianto (left) and Jokowi Widodo shake hands (Jakarta Post)

Eddy Suprapto
AsiaN Contributor

Jakarta: “I know you hate me, taunt me monkeys and so on. But one thing that cannot be denied. We both have an extraordinary love for this country.” (Abraham Lincoln to William Seward, the political enemy he appointed Secretary of State).

The same step was chosen by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in the second period of attracting political opponents in the 2019 presidential election contestation.  Prabowo Subiyanto was appointed as Minister of Defense in the Indonesia Forward cabinet in 2019-2024.

Perhaps political experiments in raising political opponents into joining the cabinet were only carried out by two people in the world namely Jokowi and Abraham Lincoln. This experiment attempts to knit Indonesian unity more fully and both encourage progress for Indonesia.

For almost a year the campaign of two camps, those of President Jokowi and Prabowo, brought about the impact of the unity of Indonesia.

Because the supporters gave birth to fanaticism and produced propaganda that moved from the positive such as action programs to the negative that included cornering political opponents with issues of ethnicity, religion, race, between groups.

Negative campaigns are more colorful in social media and news hoaxes are produced hourly, every day. A woman spreads negative campaigns about Jokowi from house to house. While on social media, the difference between the two political supporters is very strong. Friends become opponents, you break up, because of differences in political beliefs. Indonesia is on the verge of collapse because it is divided into two camps.

Even after the General Election Commission announced the victory of President Jokowi’s camp the turmoil of political turmoil was not over. It continued with the mass mobilization of thousands surrounding the Election Supervisory Body’s office, rejecting the results.

Thousands of pro-Prabowo Subiyanto mobs clashed with security forces. A police post and a police car were burned and several mobs were killed during the action in May 2019.

However, six months later, in October 2019, when the Indonesian cabinet was announced, President Jokowi took Prabowo Subiyanto as Minister of Defense to create a different atmosphere within the two camps.

President Jokowi’s political acrobatics can never be read by all political analysts, politicians from both camps, and political experts in Asia and Australia. Indonesian political analysts who are mostly professors from universities throughout Australia also missed the point in their observations of Jokowi’s political patterns and steps.

From the beginning Jokowi’s patterns and politics tended to be out of the box, with breakthroughs beyond the linear ways.

Jokowi feels that he has built bridge infrastructure, highways, reservoirs, airports, ports, additional electricity networks, village roads.

However, the general election debate did not cover such accomplishments. What emerged is differences in ethnicity, religion, race, and factions.

Therefore, President Jokowi wanted to build unity by attracting political opponents to join his work cabinet. In one month, the tension between the two camps melted and President Jokowi’s recipe of pulling opponents into the cabinet was quite effective.

The issue that awaits President Jokowi’s cabinet in the second term is the revamping the economic situation.

The world economy is on the verge of recession. The trade war between China and the U.S. is endless. The condition of Europe is unstable due to Britain’s exit from the European Union. The regional conflicts in the Middle East and in Latin America and the endless Hong Kong problem will worsen the world economic crisis in 2020.

External economic problems will have an impact on Indonesia’s economic problems, including unemployment that has reached 8 million people and the increase in the current account balance from 3.37 percent to 3.57 percent of the total gross domestic product. At least President Jokowi must pursue economic growth of up to 7 percent. If economic factors are not corrected, it is possible that the goal of building a united Indonesia will fade due to social demands.

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