The Jokowi Effect and Political Inclusiveness

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Jakarta Governor, Joko Widodo or better known as Jokowi, was named the presidential aspirant of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan/ PDIP). Jokowi already took part in campaign rally for Indonesia’s legislative election which is happening now in Indonesia. The pre-election candidacy of Jokowi definitely affects the country’s future political map. From survey results of the various pollsters in the past three months, it is predicted that Jokowi will pitch to presidential seat. Many supporters of large and middle-sized parties are now leaving their previous political vehicles to show their support for Jokowi.

This announcement indeed leads to a lot of pros and cons; one can give a bunch of reasons to support or oppose his decision to run for presidency. Many believe that there will be more opportunities for “outsiders” to be a leader in Indonesia if Jokowi is to be elected as president. He is seen to create a new chapter in the political history of modern Indonesia. However, Jokowi’s nomination needs to be taken carefully. The ‘Jokowi effect’, that is the overwhelming influence of Jokowi due to his current popularity, is subject to misuse. Also, the nomination of Jokowi needs to go hand-in-hand with political inclusiveness.

The media darling

To begin with, Jokowi should not be exploited as a media darling. Jokowi often benefits from his personal magnetism but this should not lead to media immunity for him and his proponents. Criticism towards Jokowi is often dubbed as voices of ill-willed people that goes against the public opinion. While it is sensible to take advantage of Jokowi’s position as the seemingly best alternative among the current political leaders, this is not ideal when constructive criticisms are not welcome.

In the context of political psychology, being a media darling provides Jokowi with justification working on his favor. Media tends to provide public with success stories exceeding the evidences. Jokowi himself certainly refuses to be identified more with his popularity and not his capabilities.

Equally important, Jokowi’s fame should not be exploited for  the victory of his current party, PDIP. Perhaps the party’s functionaries and politicians strongly wish that Jokowi’s nomination  will bring the party’s easy victory in this legislative election. As a party’s cadre, Jokowi’s success story of leadership can be believed to be the consequence of the party’s young politician rejuvenation as also found in other figures, such as Tri Rismaharini (mayor of Surabaya), Ganjar Pranowo (governor of Central Java) and so on. Such a view can be a fallacy since the success of these people may not have anything to do with the party’s leadership regeneration process, but more to their bottom-up leadership style which is a personal quality.

Revival of secular leaders?

Last but not least, Jokowi’s nomination is often taken as a revival of nationalist-secularist force and the antithesis to the political power of Islam. Attributing the rise of Jokowi as the emergence of secular parties and looking it as a sign decline of Muslim political leaders is an over-generalization. There are still many contemporary Muslim politicians noted for their reputation and humbleness, like Ahmad Heryawan (governor of West Java) or Salim Al-Jufri (Minister of Social Affairs). These political figures from Islamic parties are just not covered that frequently by mainstream media for the time being.

Jokowi and PDIP should then be aware of this and showcase more political inclusiveness by working more closely with these prominent Muslim political figures in his raise to national leadership.

A lecturer in the Faculty of Cultural Sciences at Andalas University.

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