Joko Widodo

  • Country: Indonesia
  • Title: President
  • Education: Gadjah Mada University

On July 9, nearly 135 million Indonesians went to some 480,000 polling stations and picked a new president -- just the third to be directly elected in the country’s history. (Indonesia overthrew its longtime dictator, Suharto, in 1998, but his initial successors were chosen by the legislature.) Their choice: Joko Widodo, known universally as Jokowi. A former small-town mayor from central Java, Jokowi first burst onto the national scene when he was elected governor of Jakarta in 2012. A populist and technocrat, Jokowi is neither rich nor wellborn; he dresses simply, is a self-professed metalhead with a special fondness for Metallica, and worked in the family furniture business before entering politics. His wild popularity and rapid ascent -- from provincial unknown to the leader of the world’s third-largest democracy -- have drawn comparisons to another president who spent part of his middle-class childhood in Indonesia: Barack Obama. But high expectations can be a curse as well as a blessing, and Jokowi faces huge challenges: endemic corruption, a once-promising economy that has gone into a tailspin, and a lingering threat of Islamic extremism. In mid-September, he met with Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman at his Jakarta residence for his first interview with an

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