After the Victory
Quick count results following the 2019 presidential election show that Prabowo Subianto has lost, but that doesn’t mean Joko Widodo won a convincing victory.
If the official election results are not much different from the quick counts published by various polling organizations, the incumbent has only won by one to two percent more than his victory five years ago.
Therefore, the results of the April 17, 2019, election not only signify the granting of the people’s mandate to Jokowi for another five-year presidential term, but also serve as a clear warning that he needs to change his government’s policies and priorities. As the incumbent who had many opportunities to provide evidence of his performance being more than mere promises, the percentage margin of his victory is far from impressive.
Moreover, quick counts show that Jokowi lost in more provinces than five years ago. Fortunately for him, he won in provinces with higher numbers of voters such as Central Java and East Java. This yet again shows that Jokowi has much work to do in his second term.
The first matter the victor must attend to is improving management of the economy. One of the most urgent things he needs to pay attention to is the energy subsidies that continue to be a financial burden for Pertamina and PLN, the state-owned electricity company. For example, the government’s reluctance to allow the price of Premium gasoline to be determined by the market is clearly inconsistent with Jokowi’s campaign promise. If this is not changed, energy subsidies will continue to cause a big problem for the current account deficit.
In his second term, Jokowi has an opportunity to remove practical political considerations from the management of the economy. Transparency and consistency will help market and business players to plan their strategies. Indecisiveness like that shown by the administration in their announcement of price increases for Premium, and the drawing up of the Negative Investment List, for example, must not happen again. State-owned enterprises should not be continually forced to chase targets for the construction of infrastructure, while ignoring market considerations and the status of their own finances.
The Social Security Agency for Healthcare (BPJS Kesehatan) must also be reformed. Delays to increases in insurance premiums without good reason— despite all calculations by actuaries showing the company is in deficit— are a big danger for the sustainability of the universal healthcare insurance program. Now the election is over, the government should act more rationally.
The next matter is the question of law enforcement. The government must guarantee the independence of law enforcement agencies, from the police and the Attorney General’s Office to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The impression that police investigations into criminal cases can be ordered around by government, sends a very bad signal to the people. Individuals who lead law enforcement bodies should be nonpartisan and professional. Jokowi must not appoint a politician again for the attorney general position.
Jokowi’s commitment to eradicating corruption also needs to be stronger. The undermining of KPK’s effectiveness over the last five years has been possible because the president has not been resolute in his defense of the body. Intervention by elements of the police within the KPK has harmed the commission’s integrity. Allowing the KPK to be systematically weakened from within carries the risk of pushing back the movement to eradicate corruption in this country.
The third matter, which is no less important, is the protection of human rights, especially of minorities. The persecution of the LGBT community and the followers of Ahmadiyah and Shia, considered as deviant groups within Islam, as well as other marginal groups, must not continue. After all, these groups clearly put their trust in Jokowi, not his opponent.
The dominance at the ballot box of pluralist and nationalist parties such as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Golkar and the Great Indonesia Movement Party in the legislative election shows a similar trend. The victory of Jokowi and these parties can be seen as a rejection by voters of the spread of identity politics that tried to divide Indonesia during the campaign. Jokowi must seize on this electoral trend, and stand on the frontline of ensuring that people who are intolerant for any reason whatsoever no longer have a place in this country.
The publication of the official presidential election results must wait for the vote counting to be completed by the General Elections Commission. But there is nothing wrong with President Jokowi and his supporters starting to choose their agenda priorities and the individuals that can help them in the cabinet. The second five years must be better than the first. Jokowi must not squander the trust of the people.