India is the world's largest democracy, Indonesia the third. Both held elections in 2014 and both elected new leaders who created huge expectations, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
Narendra Modi, India's new Prime Minister, was expected to restore the credibility of India's economy, fight corruption, reform labour, and improve health, sanitation and education systems.
The economy improved, helped by the global drop in oil prices, which made it possible to reduce India’s cumbersome system of fuel subsidies. He also liberalised foreign direct investments. But FDI will not take off with a bang because of a great weariness about India's ‘byzantine’ business structure among foreign investors.
The other tasks will take time and it has to be recognised that Mr Modi cannot dictate the speed of change in a democratic and federal system.
Prime Minister Modi is a hard and persistent worker, not an egomaniac. We can expect him to reach his goals step-by-step, and although he may take time meeting all these expectations, he is unlikely to frustrate his electorate.
Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, was elected in the hope of stopping corruption and improving Indonesia’s economy and social climate. Unfortunately, Indonesia’s growth rate is declining so the economy is not improving. Jokowi is now following a dangerous path by introducing protectionist ideas, popular with his domestic electorate, while promoting FDI abroad.
But his dedication to developing Indonesia has won support as has his realistic and non-ideological approach.
Having expectations which are too high at the beginning of a term of office can be a handicap, as has been seen with America’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Mr Obama received the Nobel peace prize in October 2009, only 10 months after taking office and before he could really prove he deserved that prestigious award. His winning slogan ‘yes we can’ sounded good, but made satisfying people’s expectations more difficult.
Narendra Modi seems to be on track in achieving his goals. Both he and Jokowi appear to be more personally modest and do not over-estimate their own importance. These qualities will help them to meet their voters’ expectations.