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Why Indonesia rejected the path of strong-man politics

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In a time of strong-man, right-wing, populist leaders around the world, you might have expected Indonesia to go the same way. But the tough-guy demagogue and former general on the ballot paper came in a distant second in last week's election. For Australia, which has only one strategically significant near neighbour, this was a good thing.

On the face of it, the election was almost quaintly old-fashioned, in fact - where politics is increasingly irrational in many countries, in Indonesia it seemed to be largely a rational exercise.
The ultra-nationalist and racist, Prabowo Subianto, who sometimes likes to strike a pose riding a white charger, lost.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, and his running mate Ma'ruf AminCredit:AP

It may be troubling that he still managed to get an estimated 45 per cent of the vote. Or that he is angrily refusing to acknowledge defeat, and promises to lead mass protest rallies. But the main story here is that the President, Joko Widodo, universally known by the nickname Jokowi, successfully delivered better living standards for his people in his first five-year term and has now now been rewarded with a second.

Jokowi, a mild-mannered former furniture manufacturer, introduced universal health care in a country of 270 million people, almost as populous as the US. He issued an education card so poor parents can afford textbooks for their kids. And he built an impressive array of new public transport lines, roads, dams, and other infrastructure, exactly as he promised to do. "People feel........

© The Age