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Joko “Jokowi” Widodo

Voters in Indonesia, the world's third largest democracy, head to the polls 09 July 2014 to choose a new president in a race described as one of the tightest in recent history. Some 190 million Indonesians, including about 67 million first-time voters, would choose between two candidates with very distinct leadership styles. Both men were vying to replace President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has served the maximum two-term limit.

The ex-furniture entrepreneur was widely expected to win a few months before the election. But Jokowi lost ground following accusations he is not a Muslim. Widodo denied the charge, but the allegation seems to have made a significant difference for voters in the world's largest Muslim nation.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, was raised in a village in the Central Java town of Solo. He is admired for overcoming an under-privileged upbringing to become governor and has attracted support for his man-of-the-people leadership style. Jokowi's willingness to tackle the capital’s troubles and his reputation for clean governance have given him an edge with voters who find it refreshing that he has no ties to Suharto-era politics.

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was born in Solo, Central Java on 21 June 1961. His parents sold wood in the streets of Solo, and lived in the slums of the Bengawan Solo riverbanks. First attending school in Solo, he was admitted to Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, where he graduated in 1985 with a degree in forestry engineering. Upon graduation, he worked for three years in a state-owned forests company located in Aceh before returning to Solo to start a business exporting intricately designed wooden furniture to customers around the world.

His first foray into pulbic affairs was when he founded the Solo branch of the Indonesian Furniture Traders’ Association (ASMINDO), which he chaired from its inception in 2003 to 2005. Due to his prominence in leading one of Solo’s largest business associations, he was persuaded in 2005 by many in the Solo business community, including prominent businessman-turned-close advisor Sumartono Hadinoto, to run for mayor of Solo.

In 2012, with the national attention focused of Joko and his achievements as Mayor of Solo, he was selected by former Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Gerindra Party Chief Patron Prabowo Subianto to run for governor of Jakarta against incumbent Fauzi Bowo. PDI-P chair Megawati Soekarnoputri eventually agreed, and he ran with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Golkar House member from Bangka-Belitung province who switched party affiliation to Gerindra for the election, as his running mate. The Joko-Basuki pair came in first in the first round of polls with 42.6 percent of the votes against Fauzi’s 34.05 percent. Ultimately, the pair conclusively defeated Fauzi in the second round of polls with 53.82 percent of the votes.

In two years as governor of Jakarta, he relocated the street-clogging Tanah Abang street hawkers to the Block G Market, restored the Pluit Dam and relocated the settlers to affordable provincial government housing, introduced the Jakarta Health Card and Jakarta Smart Card to provide healthcare and education funding to low-income Jakarta residents, expanded the Transjakarta bus service and initiated the construction of the Jakarta MRT.

Due to his successes in managing Solo and Jakarta, Megawati decided in March 2014 that Joko would be the PDI-P’s presidential candidate. Final results from Indonesia's legislative election confirmed that the main opposition party had won, but failed to secure enough votes to put forward its presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo without a coalition.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) won 18.9 per cent in last month's voting, the election commission said, short of the 25 per cent threshold needed to allow the hugely popular Jakarta governor to run as president on July 9. However, the party quickly found a coalition partner, making Widodo the only candidate so far able to meet the threshold, while other political parties bickered with each other. Shortly after the election results were announced, the small National Democrat (NasDem) party, which won 6.7 percent, reaffirmed that it was backing the PDI-P and Widodo.

He married Iriana in 1986, and is father to three children: Gibran Rakabuming, Kahiyang Ayu and Kaesang Pangarep.




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