Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi' Widodo just got his highest approval rating during the pandemic Covid-19, placing him among one of the most popular democratic leaders in the world.
According to local pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia, about 72 percent of Indonesians said they approved the President's jobs, thanks to his success in controlling the spread of Covid-19 and recovering the economy.
Indikator conducted the poll on 2–6 November, involving 1,220 respondents. The survey reported a margin of error of about ±2.9 percent, at a 95 percent confidence level. That means that we can be 95 percent confident that the actual approval rating lies between 69.1 and 74.9 percent.
Jokowi's latest approval rating almost matched his record in September 2018, which was penciled at 78.4 percent. Just before the Covid-19 first detection in Indonesia, the President enjoyed t a 70 percent approval rating.
"Around 72 percent of people said they were very satisfied or quite satisfied with the performance of President Jokowi," Indikator's executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said on Sunday.
"That was an increase of 13 percent in two or three months, the highest increase during the pandemic in the last two years," Burhanuddin said.
"Apart from economic reason, [Jokowi's] approval rate rose sharply due to improving Covid-19 handling," Burhanuddin said.
"Those who dissatisfied [with Covid-19 handling] dropped sharply. The people are quite objective. They know when to give credit and when to criticize," Burhanuddin said.
Highest in the World
Jokowi's latest approval rating was also one of the highest among the world's democratic leaders. Jokowi's approval rating was right on top with the likes of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mexico President López Obrador, and outgoing Germany counselor Angela Merkel.
According to the Morning Consult Political Intelligence survey, Modi enjoyed a 70 percent approval rating in the first week of November. Like Jokowi's Omnibus Law, Modi went out with relentless economic reforms during the pandemic that resulted in a rapid economic turnaround.
Jokowi managed to reach such a high level of approval, despite lacking the luster and masterful media presence of Mexico President López Obrador, who enjoyed a 70 percent approval rating.
The Indonesian President also outperformed one of the most illustrious contemporary leaders in recent times, Angela Merkel. In her final year as chancellor, Merkel still had the support of 53 percent of respondents representing German citizens, according to the Morning Consult Political Intelligence survey in the first week of November.
Jokowi also fared much better than the United States President Joe Biden. Biden saw his approval rating dwindle to 44 percent, despite managing to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law, his critical economic agenda. Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden seemed unable to escape the mid-term approval slumps that plagued US presidents in the past four decades.
Among democracies with a majority Muslim population, Jokowi's 72-percent approval rating was outstanding. In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan struggled to maintain his support, with the latest survey from Gallup Pakistan in August placing his approval rating at 48 percent. President Muhammadu Buhari's approval rating in Nigeria was only 15 percent last May, according to a social media poll conducted by online news site Legit.ng.
The Presidential Third-Term
Jokowi was so popular that support for his third presidential term had grown. In November, about 38 percent of Indonesian supported him to run again in 2024, rising from just 27.9 percent in September, the Indikator poll showed.
"Rising President's approval rate, improving economic condition were followed by a positive sentiment toward a third presidential term," Burhanuddin said.
Support for Jokowi's third term was particularly apparent among religious minority voters. About 72 percent of Christians and 76 percent of Hindus, Buddhists, and other minority believers were for Jokowi to run again. The religious minority voters only accounted for about 12.3 percent of the total votes.
The lack of a dominant new presidential candidate might also explain Jokowi's popularity as the third-term President gained ground. The Indikator poll showed that one in five respondents said they would choose Jokowi if the presidential election were held today.
That was significantly higher than the votes for other potential presidential candidates, including Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto, who got 14 percent, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo (7.9 percent), and Jakarta Governor Anes Baswedan (6.7 percent).
Indonesia's 1945 Constitution used to allow a president to rule without a time limit before an amendment in 1998 capped their ruling period to two terms.
A third term for Jokowi would require his coalition of parties—which now has about 60 percent of the seats in the People Assembly (MPR)—to initiate another round of amendment.
Still, the parties might want to approach the presidential third-term discourse with cautions, with close to two-thirds of Indonesians still thinking the country needs a new president in 2024.
"The majority remain opposing the third presidential term," Burhanuddin said.
Among the Muslims, who accounted for 87.7 percent of the votes, the third presidential term proposal met strong opposition. Close to 63 percent of Muslims were against the plan, according to the Indikator poll.
Other demographic groups were also against the plan. More than 58 percent of housewives, for example, expressed their disagreement with Jokowi's third term. The idea also did not hold water across income groups, especially those in higher-income brackets.