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A student holds a poster during a rally against postponing the 2024 presidential election, Jakarta, Indonesia. A student holds a poster portraying President Joko Widodo during a rally against postponing the 2024 presidential election, Jakarta, Indonesia, April 21, 2022 (AP photo by Tatan Syuflana).

Whenever Jokowi Leaves Office, Indonesia’s Democracy Will Be Worse Off

Monday, May 2, 2022

Indonesian President Joko Widodo won the country’s presidential election in 2014 by presenting himself in part as a democratic reformer, a man of humble origins who would fight graft and curtail the self-dealing elite politics that dominate Jakarta. If at the start of Jokowi’s first term there was some hope that he would follow through on his lofty campaign promises, that all seems like a distant memory today. For most of his second term since being reelected in 2018, he has proven to be the opposite of a reformer, undermining democracy, advancing insider politics in which political dynasties are blossoming, cracking down on dissent and tolerance, and weakening anti-graft efforts instead.

Now, after Jokowi handled the first two years of the pandemic poorly, his closest advisers seem to be pushing a shadow campaign to postpone the presidential election scheduled for 2024, claiming that Jokowi needs more time to battle the pandemic. Though Jokowi has said he does not support the idea, his advisers continue to subtly push it. But any postponement would be extremely damaging to Indonesia’s democracy. ...

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