A second and final term can free a leader, as Joko Widodo has acknowledged. The question is how he will use his new liberty. Five years ago, he was widely hailed as "Indonesia's Obama". His rise was seen as another step forward for the world's fourth most populous country and biggest Muslim-majority nation.
Its transition from dictatorship two decades ago had already made it an important and much-needed model of democracy in the region and to the Muslim world. But Jokowi, as he is popularly known, was also an outsider, the first president from a humble background. Unconnected to the authoritarian era, he had earned a reputation as a clean politician as governor of Jakarta. Like Mr Obama he stood for hope in a sullied political world.
Now he has begun his second term. His campaign slogan was "Indonesia advancing". But many of those who once cheered him now see a country backsliding on critical issues including human rights, religious tolerance and the general quality of its democracy.
Though his progress in building infrastructure and commitment to developing social welfare has been applauded, he has been attacked for failing to tackle corruption and abuses, and for giving ground to hardline Islamic groups rather than challenging them. The president seems to regard getting to grips with such concerns as a hindrance to his economic programme. The new vice-president, Ma'ruf Amin, is a powerful conservative Islamic cleric with a history of intolerance towards religious minorities and LGBT people.
Now suspicion and anger have been reignited by his decision to appoint the opponent he defeated twice, Prabowo Subianto, as defence minister. The former general, the son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto, was allegedly involved in the kidnapping and torture of pro-democracy activists in 1998, a claim he has consistently denied.
Indonesian politics has always depended on bringing political rivals into the tent – with patronage and related opportunities keeping opponents there. Indeed, one concern is that the ruling coalition now controls almost three-quarters of the seats in the house of representatives, leaving a much-reduced opposition.
Nor is this appointment an unprecedented move by the president. In 2016, he chose as security minister Wiranto, a former army chief who was indicted for crimes against humanity by a UN-backed tribunal (though he denies the offences and never stood trial). Nonetheless, this disturbing new appointment has rightly engendered real fear among activists and others in the country, and reinforced concerns about its direction. At the most fundamental level, it has left some voters wondering what the election was for.
So has his decision to keep on the forest and environment minister and the justice minister – weeks after tens of thousands of students protested against the government's failure to tackle the country's forest fires and against a draconian new criminal code which opponents warned endangered press freedoms and criminalised abortion, and the weakening of an anti-corruption body.
The hopes were always unwisely inflated: the president could not have met them all. But it is clearer than ever that he cannot be depended on to defend basic rights. It is also clear that citizens should not expect any one politician to be seen as a saviour. Real pressure for reform, and real opposition can only come from outside parliament. Civil society in Indonesia needs all the help it can get.