Jakarta. The campaign team of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his running mate, cleric Ma'ruf Amin, is redirecting its effort to door-to-door campaigns to inform the public of Jokowi’s achievements in his first term as president, the chief campaigner said in a statement on Wednesday (20/03).
With 28 days remaining before the presidential election, the Jokowi-Ma’ruf campaign team's lead, billionaire Erick Thohir, pledges that he will intensify communication with religious and community leaders, Jokowi-Ma’ruf coalition parties, entrepreneurs, volunteers and activists.
"We will rely on campaign methods that are acceptable at all levels of society... without the need for [mass] mobilization or tit-for-tat promises," Erick said.
The statement came after a poll result published by Kompas, Indonesia's largest newspaper, showed a worrying sign for Jokowi: his lead over rival Prabowo Subianto has narrowed to just 12 percent compared to 20 percent in October. The poll, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 5, showed Jokowi with a 49 percent support to Prabowo’s 37 percent, with a margin of error of 2.2 percent.
This was the first time that an independent pollster has given a reading of below 50 percent for the incumbent, but Erick said he remains optimistic. He pointed out that several other polls gave a clear lead to Jokowi.
Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting’s latest poll showed the Jokowi-Ma’ruf support at 58 percent and Prabowo-Sandiaga at 32 percent among likely voters.
"We are optimistic that many undecided and swing voters have begun shifting to us. We are very grateful for that," Erick said.
The Rise of "Golput"
Jokowi is certainly not seeing a united front and a level of enthusiasm he enjoyed five years ago. Several high-profile events for Jokowi supporters attracted a turnout that was way short of expectation. The legislative election that will be held simultaneously with the presidential election on April 17, forces even coalition political parties to compete against each other, complicating effort for a unified message from Jokowi's camp.
His rivals, the former army general Prabowo Subianto and millionaire Sandiaga Uno, however, are riding on the Islamist and "the just not Jokowi" sentiments to keep their supporters militant.
Also, the rising number of non-voters, or golput, short for "golongan putih" or "the white group," nibs away more at Jokowi's voter base than Prabowo's, according to Ikrama Masloman, a researcher at pollster Lingkaran Survei Indonesia (LSI).
General Elections Commission (KPU) data show voter abstention is on the rise: it was 23 percent in 2009 elections, 27 percent in 2009 and 30 percent in 2014.
This year, only 49 percent of Indonesian voters know that they must elect a president on April 17, just two days before the Easter long weekend, Ikrama said citing a recent LSI survey.
Abstention among religious minorities, daily laborers, housewives and millennials would work against Jokowi-Ma'ruf, Ikrama said. The LSI survey found some minorities may feel unsafe on election day and would go on vacation instead; the laborers have no time to go to the polling booths; housewives do not get accurate information about the election; while millennials are simply ignorant about politics.
Abstention among Islamist voters—who would like to see Islamic laws incorporated in the country's legislation—like members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and the Prosperous Justice Party, would hurt Prabowo's chances, the survey showed.
But more moderate Muslims voters, like those who are affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama, are more likely to join golput.
"If anyone in these moderate groups decides to not vote, it is because they feel that Jokowi-Ma'ruf are winning the race already," Ikrama said.