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Indonesia’s Jokowi walks with his new Cabinet ministers and their spouses after their swearing-in ceremony. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, and his wife Iriana, walk with his new Cabinet ministers and their spouses after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Jokowi’s Political Record Could Derail His Big Plans for Indonesia’s Economy

Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019

Two months into his second term, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, has announced some bold new economic plans. He has vowed to push through major legislation on deregulation—modeled on the Trump administration’s agenda in Washington—and launch a staggering number of new infrastructure projects. It is all part of a push to attract foreign investment, which has provoked backlashes in Indonesia before, but which he said “no one should be allergic to” in a speech after winning reelection.

Whether Jokowi can implement this economic agenda remains unclear. He has built a vast, 50-member Cabinet, including vice ministers, from 10 political parties—an uneasy collection of veteran politicians, including some with unsavory backgrounds, and younger, reform-minded technocrats. This combustible mix, with many Cabinet members close to powerful tycoons more interested in their own interests than in seeing real reform, could undermine his economic plans. Jokowi’s own disinterest in parallel political reforms could prove to be a hurdle as well, hindering his abilities to get anything done if democratic backsliding undercuts his popularity. ...

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