The Leaderboard: Anies Baswedan

Who is he?

Anies Baswedan is the newly elected governor of Jakarta. He most recently served as Indonesia’s minister of Education and Culture from 2014 to 2016 and as rector of Paramadina University from 2007 to 2015. Well regarded for his status as an accomplished Muslim intellectual, Baswedan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Gadjah Mada University, a Master of Public Policy degree in International Security and Economic Policy from the University of Maryland, and a PhD in Political Science from Northern Illinois University.

Anies Baswedan during his time as the Rector of Paramadina University. Source: U.S.-Islamic World Forum’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

Baswedan will be sworn into office on October 16 as the 19th governor of Jakarta, following a contentious April 19 election win against then-incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Baswedan, who mounted his campaign under the patronage of opposition leader and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, has faced criticism for his overtures toward hardline Islamic activists. Conservative groups campaigned fiercely against Ahok, who is now serving a two-year prison sentence for blasphemy after the double minority ethnic-Chinese Christian governor was attacked for public comments about the Quran. Baswedan and Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno have thus inherited stewardship of Jakarta under divisive circumstances, and are expected to look to embark on a campaign of reconciliation to ease tensions.

What can we expect from him?

Baswedan is expected to implement a series of social policy reforms, including the introduction of a zero down-payment housing program, the issuance of smart cards for social services and health care, and the halting of the controversial Jakarta Bay land reclamation project. Baswedan and Uno will also oversee the completion of the Jakarta Light Rail Transit and Mass Rapid Transit projects, which are scheduled to begin operations in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Baswedan’s success in office could be impacted by his relationship with the Islamist groups that supported him during the election. While hardline Muslims buoyed Baswedan to victory, continuing to rely on such groups could alienate moderates and deepen racial and religious divisions in Jakarta. Additionally, observers have speculated that Baswedan could cut short his five-year term in office to make a bid for the presidency in 2019, mirroring the path taken in 2014 by then-Jakarta governor and incumbent President Joko Widodo.

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