Abstract: In post-New Order Indonesian politics, two distinct viewpoints concern the nature and influence of oligarchy. The first argues that while an authoritarian government no longer controls power or sets the agenda, post-1988 Indonesia is dominated by oligarchs. The second view focuses on the process of Indonesia’s democratic transition being a populace movement, and the result of the people’s struggles against power, class, and political forces. In 2014, Indonesians elected a new president, Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”). Relatively unknown and not part of the establishment, Jokowi’s ascendance to the presidency undoubtedly raises questions for the oligarchy thesis. This article examines the ways in which Jokowi became a media phenomenon and the most popular candidate despite his seeming not to be part of the oligarchic elite. In fact, Jokowi masterfully manipulated to his advantage the oligarchical powers of Indonesia’s media as well as individual citizens and community groups.
Indonesia – Southeast Asia Program [Cornell University]
Published: May 29, 2015