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Joko takes charge after party's drab polls show

Publication Date : 14-04-2014


Presidential favourite Joko Widodo has put himself at the front of the party's campaign following its lacklustre performance in last week's general election.

The Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) failed to capitalise on his popularity, the so-called "Jokowi effect", after earlier polls predicted it would win more than 20 per cent of the popular vote.

Now, supporters are scrambling to market the Jakarta Governor more effectively, with the July 9 presidential election beckoning.

But Joko's presidential prospects remain strong.

Jumadi, a 56-year-old taxi driver in Jakarta, did not bother to vote last Wednesday.

"I don't believe in political parties anymore," he said, adding that he "would rather vote for Jokowi in the presidential election. That is more important for me".

Like Jumadi, other Jakarta residents have also made up their minds to vote Joko for president even though some were unsure which party he belongs to, and others supported candidates from other parties.

Such voters cost the PDI-P dearly, denying the party the landslide it thought was already in thebag.

Joko believes the party should have promoted him more widely, noting that its TV advertisements did not include him until three days before polling day.

Instead, the ads featured only PDI-P leader and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her daughter Puan Maharani, the party's national campaign chief.

A survey by Indikator Politik showed that support for the PDI-P jumped from 16.6 per cent to 24.5 per cent after Joko was named the presidential candidate on March 14, two days before campaigning began.

It also predicted that he would win the presidential election in the first round, by getting more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Joko visited his supporters' headquarters in South Jakarta for the first time last Friday, in an indication of his urgency in taking control of the presidential campaign.

"We have no strength but yours, our volunteers," he told those gathered in a house later inaugurated as the headquarters of pro-Jokowi "Pro-Jo" supporters.

"We have three months left (to the presidential polls). We are entering an arena that, like it or not, we have to be prepared for, and I am confident those preparations are on track," he said, adding that he has no money to pay them for campaigning.

Early unofficial counts gave the PDI-P 19 per of the vote share, falling short of its 27 per cent target and pollsters' predictions.

Its weaker-than-expected result means political rivals can breathe easier.

A front-page headline in Koran Sindo, owned by media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is vice- chairman of the Hanura party, said it all: "Jokowi Effect tak berefek". It means Jokowi Effect has no effect.

Didik Rachbini, a political analyst with research institute PDB and a rival politician in the Islamic National Mandate Party (PAN), said some voters were becoming sceptical of Joko's potential.

"There was a bubble created by local media and social media about his capabilities. The hype died down as people started to demand to hear more about his views," he said.

In a commentary, "Jokowi's personal branding declines", in Republika daily, brand consultant Dewi Haroen wrote: "Jokowi now needs to focus on performance and show other achievements within these next three months, to prove he is an original brand and not a product of manipulation or a media creation."

She added: "He needs to show his devotion to the people, and not for groups or party. Jokowi needs to be firm and keep a distance from Ibu Mega, so that he won't be perceived as a puppet leader."


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