Nation & World News

Indonesia’s President-Elect Crowdsources His Cabinet

By Scott Neuman on July 25th, 2014

Indonesia’s president-elect is making good on a campaign promise to be a new kind of leader — starting with his Cabinet, which he’s asking ordinary people to help him choose.

Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, was named president on Tuesday following July 9 polls, the results of which were contested by rival Prabowo Subianto. In the final count approved by the country’s election commission, Jokowi secured 53 percent to Prabowo’s 47 percent.

Volunteers for Jokowi quickly opened an online survey called the People’s Choice for an Alternative Cabinet, in which three names are put forward for each of the 34 ministerial posts, with an option for write-in candidates, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the WSJ, the introduction of the survey emphasizes that “the selection of the minister is the prerogative of the President. But that does not mean people cannot participate.”

As of Thursday, some 17,449 people had participated in the survey, according to a tweet from Jokowi’s volunteer network.

Both Jokowi and Prabowo made extensive use of social media during the campaign in the country of some 250 million. But Prabowo, a son-in-law of longtime dictator Suharto, was seen by many as a throwback to a bygone era.

By contrast, Jokowi is an entrepreneur who “was pressed into politics by other businessmen wanting to clean up the intricate and dispiriting regulations that blighted their lives,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Economist says of the new leader:

“Jokowi rose up through local government, a product of the far-reaching political decentralisation that was introduced after the overthrow of Suharto … in 1999. A former furniture-seller, Jokowi was elected mayor of Solo, a medium-sized city in central Java, before becoming Jakarta’s governor in 2012. He has a reputation for being a man of the people.

“Jokowi faces some big challenges. Indonesia’s economy, the largest in South-East Asia, is slowing. Annual growth fell to 5.2% in the first quarter, its slowest rate in more than four years. Wasteful energy subsidies are costing the government some $30 billion a year and contribute to a destabilising current-account deficit. The sprawling bureaucracy needs reform. And the hunt for natural resources is ravaging the archipelago’s remaining forests and spoiling its seas. But Jokowi’s most pressing challenge will be to repair the rifts caused by the election itself, which has been the most divisive in Indonesia’s history.”

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