Jokowi’s Populism in the 2012 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election

Abdul Hamid


Joko Widodo’s victory in the 2012 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election could be seen as a populist phenomenon. An outsider to Jakarta politics, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) beat the incumbent, Fauzi Bowo (Foke), who had received strong support from political parties. Using populism as an analytical tool, this paper argues that the following four factors enabled Jokowi to emerge as an alternative leader in Indonesia’s capital: (1) social breakdown and declining capability of the government; (2) corrupt, draining political traditions and a negative image of political parties; (3) societal changes; and (4) the emergence of forms of political representation outside of traditional political institutions. Those situations led Jakarta voters to more easily accept Jokowi’s offer – “New Jakarta” (Jakarta Baru) – as a new identity against the established regime. Populism can help explain Jokowi’s victory in the election, but also the leadership of his administration after he was elected.

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