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Widodo's weak points may yet sink the popular president

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Infrastructure delays and intractable deficits are among Widodo's main challenges as he looks ahead to re-election in 2019.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- From local politician to leader of one of the world's most populous nations, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has enjoyed a wave of popular support, buoyed by his clean image and promises of economic growth. But delayed infrastructure development and intractable deficits could derail his hopes of re-election in 2019.

In an opinion poll conducted in October by Indonesian think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 66.5% of respondents said they were happy with Widodo's government, a significant increase from 50.6% a year before. The reason for the uptick was an economic recovery, albeit a slow one. The Indonesian economy expanded 5.2% on the year in the April-June quarter in real terms, greater than 4.9% in January-March. Far from representing a self-sustaining recovery, however, this accelerated growth is thought to be due mainly to the government moving forward some of its planned spending.

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