April 15, 2015

Since his election last year as President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo has brought youthful energy and a popular touch to his large and diverse nation, the world’s fourth most populous and home to the largest Muslim population of any country. President Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, rose from humble origins to become a prosperous entrepreneur, the first Indonesian President ever to do so. He has been an accomplished mayor of Solo, his hometown, and of Jakarta, one of the world’s great megacities. I was particularly impressed when he stood up to Muslim extremists who objected to his appointing a Christian woman as a district chief in Jakarta in 2013. That commitment to Indonesia’s tradition of religious diversity makes Widodo’s success vital not only for Indonesia but also for a world that needs the example of a successful Muslim-majority democracy. But he will need all his popularity and more to overcome the entrenched interests in Indonesia that resist change.

Wolfowitz is a former president of the World Bank and former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia

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