President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said on Wednesday (21/02) that he understands the concerns of civil society groups over a recent amendment to the MD3 law. (Reuters Photo/Bobby Yip)

Three Years On, Can Jokowi Maintain His Popularity Gains?


SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Jakarta. With each passing year of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration in office, public satisfaction with those in charge continues to grow, according to a new report by Jakarta-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS.

The CSIS report shows a public satisfaction rate with the central government at 68.3 percent so far this year, compared to 66.5 percent and 50.6 percent in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

The report cites Jokowi's efforts to expand the development and infrastructure sectors across the archipelago as two driving factors in garnering greater public satisfaction over the past three years.

Jokowi's "Sea Toll" maritime development project has also played well with the public, while the report noted that most Indonesians consider the president a great democratic leader.

"What I see, there is a positive perception, particularly in development. I think that people see new road construction projects, infrastructure development projects and others, in which the public may know that this is a long-term matter," Philips Vermonte, director of CSIS, told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday (12/09).

However, CSIS also pointed out that average household incomes in the country have not increased significantly over the past five years.

"The economy has remained relatively unchanged in society, but do not forget there has been compensation because people now have access to BPJS [state-run health insurance], and for who had no access to hospitals, they can now go there," Phillips said.

Philips emphasized that government-provided subsidies are "terrifying expenses" but are markers of a healthy economy, especially since lower- and middle- classes now have easier access to medical services.

"So, maybe revenues do not change, but actually there is an expenditure component that previously did not work, but it can work now from subsidies from the state via BPJS and educational facilities," he added.

However, the CSIS report made no mention of Jokowi's failure to tackle past and ongoing human rights violations.

Jokowi's Electability

The CSIS report also anticipated that Jokowi and the leader of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, Prabowo Subianto, will go head-to-head in the 2019 presidential election.

The report noted that Jokowi's electability rate currently stands at 50.9 percent, approximately a 9 percent increase from last year, though still not a safe number for a sitting president heading into his second term.

Meanwhile, Prabowo, a retired general and son-in-law to former authoritarian President Suharto, has a stagnant electability rate.

The report also anticipated a third presidential candidate to run in 2019 from the Democrat Party, led by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Early assessments point to failed 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono.

CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes said Jokowi should focus more on improving the economic sector, as it is one of the main drivers of public satisfaction with governmental performance.

"If the public evaluation of the government in the economic sector is saggy, or below 50 percent [...] Jokowi will experience electoral disturbance," Arya added.