Modern politics is to a large part about image.
While the emancipated middle class grows, room’ diminishes for old fashioned politicians to haughtily ignore the opinions and emotions of common people. Sticking to such an arrogant attitude will catastrophically distance them from the people they say to represent.
Lately the contrast between old and new politics became very clear by a set of old school politicians’ decisions on the one hand and smart populist moves by representatives of a new generation that is acting with an eye to their PR, on the other.
With a considerable record of involvement in corruption of several DPR members and reports on poor legislative performance, DPR is low in public esteem. In that context it´s an illustration of the measure most MPs lost touch with the average Indonesian that they asked a 77 percent budget increase for journeys to 38 countries in 2013, taking the budget to more than Rp 248 billion (US$25.48 million). It didn’t help either the House decided to raise its budget for salaries and allowances to Rp 1.03 trillion this year from Rp 914 billion in 2011, earlier this year. Which came on top of voting a $ 26 million budget for improvement of their own housing.
Modern politicians would not make similar mistakes. They take and sell particular decisions which will boost their popularity first. And they will make sure the relevant media will cover the event. So it´s for a reason Jokowi said: ” The (governor’s) inauguration ceremony is not that important. Therefore,it should be as modest as possible”. Next the “inauguration ceremony … budget ( has been cut by 50%) to less than Rp 500 million (US$52,000)“.
Also minister Minister Dahlan Iskan, another prominent member of the new generation, knows how to please grassroot supporters by showing his conspicuous ordinariness. He is the cool guy in the political snake pit and never forgets to let everybody know. He slept in a shanty owned by a rice farmer in Yogyakarta, riding on an economy train in Central Java, visiting Ngruki Islamic boarding school founded by terrorist convict Abu Bakar Ba’asyir in Surakarta, Central Java, and plunging into a drenched paddy field to help with rice planting in South Sulawesi. For the urban crowd, Dahlan forcefully opened a tollgate in Senayan, Jakarta, during morning rush hour, letting motorists through for free following a long delay caused by the absence of several gate keepers.
I think the new boys on the block are an improvement. However like the old school guys and dolls never looked over their shoulders (apart from random occasions they got started by radicals) to check whether their followers were still following , the new cool cats run the risk of constant looking over their shoulders and therefore only be able to run their political portfolios skin deep and short term.
So let’s wish wisdom and good luck to this political relieve.