Jokowi on the edge of defeat?

Hersubeno Arief
Media and Political Consultant

IO – Who will win the Presidential Election? Is it true that Jokowi is losing and Prabowo is getting stronger? We can see such indications these days. If you don’t want to miss out, you must not miss monitoring the campaigns for the next 21 days. The open campaign will continue until 13 April. It will strongly help to determine who will become the winner, and who will become the loser.

Today, Sunday 24 March 2019, open campaigning has started. Presidential Candidate Pair 01 Jokowi-Ma’ruf made the campaign start jointly in Serang, Banten, while Presidential Candidate Pair 02 Prabowo-Sandi performed their campaign separately. Prabowo started campaigning in Manado, North Sulawesi, then moved to Makassar, South Sulawesi. Sandiaga Uno met new entrepreneurs in the 2019 Young Entrepreneur Summit (YES) forum in Sragen, Central Java.

The R & D Department of Kompas daily newspaper said that since the electability gap between the Presidential Candidate Pairs are slight, general meetings (open campaigns) will determine the issue. Whoever consolidates and mobilizes his mass better will be the winner of the Presidential Elections. With the several indicators that were surveyed, and from the results of the Presidential Candidate Pairs’ campaign, the Kompas R & D Survey has actually given a clear description of the current condition: Jokowi-Ma’aruf are at the edge of defeat, despite having better electability. How come?

Actually, the campaigns are quite predictable. The Kompas R & D Survey found that Prabowo-Sandi supporters are much more militant than Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters. It’s this supporter militancy that determines how the open campaign will run. Therefore, we can be sure that all Prabowo-Sandi campaigns will always be crowded, while Jokowi-Ma’ruf open campaigns still remain questionable.

There are six indicators measured by the Kompas R & D Survey that cause them to conclude that Prabowo-Sandi supporters are more militant:

First, do the respondents always follow information related to the Presidential Candidate Pair of their choice? 61.4% of Prabowo-Sandi supporters said “yes”, while only 57.9% of Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters agreed.

Second, will the supporters spread out positive things about their favored Presidential Candidate Pair? The results are again higher for Prabowo-Sandi supporters (40.8%) than for Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters (35.5%).

Third, will the supporters defend their preferred Presidential Candidate Pair if there is any information that can injure the Pair? More Prabowo-Sandi supporters said that they will defend their candidate (36.1%) than Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters (34.3%).

Fourth, the survey also measured the supporters’ willingness to take part in their preferred Presidential Candidate Pair campaign. The results remain the same: more Prabowo-Sandi supporters are willing to be present at campaigns at 21.7%, more than Jokowi-Ma’ruf’s supporters at 15%.

Fifth, will the supporters agree to provide material assistance in the form of money or goods? This indicator shows very few supporters who would actually provide material contribution, but the advantage remains with Prabowo-Sandi. 8.3% of Prabowo-Sandi supporters agree to make material contribution, as opposed to 5.9% of Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters.

Sixth, will the supporters agree to persuade others to vote for their preferred Presidential Candidate Pair? More Prabowo-Sandi supporters are willing to do so at 27%, as compared with Jokowi-Ma’ruf supporters at 23.8%.

Of the six indicators, the fourth one significantly determines the number of supporters who will be present in an open campaign. The difference is huge: Prabowo-Sandi supporters are 6.7% more enthusiastic. The results of this survey explain why supporting masses always floods Prabowo’s campaigns, and why Jokowi’s campaigns have relatively few supporters. The difference is so bad that he must mobilize his masses from the State apparatus (civil servants, police officers).

The difference between Sandiaga’s campaign mass against Ma’ruf’s is even harsher. Sandiaga is always welcomed with euphoria, while Ma’ruf had to cancel his campaigns several time due to lack of attendants. The mixture between low militancy and loss of Jokowi’s charm cause the public to be little motivated to attend campaigns. On the other hand, Ma’ruf has absolutely no magnetism that can attract supporters. In fact, for Ma’ruf’s first campaign in his own hometown, National Campaign Team (Tim Kampanye Nasional – “TKN”) Chairman Erick Thohir had to put in considerable effort and charm to get people to attend.

Erick was present in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”) campaign held in the town square of Tangerang. There, he requested that PDIP supporters shift to Ciceri Square, Serang, where Jokowi-Ma’ruf was holding a campaign. Other than from Tangerang, TKN has also mobilized mass from Cilegon, mostly PDIP supporters. The first campaign was a great gamble for TKN: how much mass can they mobilize? They didn’t want to be embarrassed in Ma’ruf Amin’s own hometown after all.

On the contrary, Prabowo’s early campaign in Manado generated a surprising amount of enthusiasm from the people. BPN did not hope for much in the hometown of Prabowo’s late mother, as they are aware that Manado is the basis for PDIP and Jokowi supporters. In fact, during the 2014 Presidential Elections, Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla obtained 58.77% of the votes in the region, while Prabowo-Hatta only had 41.23%. However, all the way from the airport to the New Ternate Square, the Manadonese mass welcomed him enthusiastically.

An even bigger welcome was given when Prabowo held an open campaign in the Karebosi Square in Makassar with the accompaniment of entrepreneur Erwin Aksa, a nephew of Vice President Jusuf Kalla. The people flooded the area, even though Makassar was not a friendly town for Prabowo. In the 2014 Presidential Elections Prabowo-Hatta lost by a landslide from Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla, with a vote of respectively 29. 43% against 70.53%.

Supporter militancy also explains why Jokowi is losing electability as and Prabowo is gaining it. Compared to the survey results in October 2018, Jokowi’s electability decreased 3.4% while Prabowo’s increased 4.7%. Another significant factor is the high number of those who decided not to vote. In short, Jokowi is haunted by the large number of former supporters who are not voting for him again.

Turning the Tables
Can Jokowi and his supporters reverse the situation within the remaining time? In view of his supporters’ militancy, this would seem very difficult indeed. Jokowi cannot rely on his supporting political parties either, because they are breaking up and starting to attack each other. PDIP and the Functional Group (Golongan Karya – “Golkar”) Party are quarrelling with the Indonesian Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Indonesia – “PSI”), the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pem­bangunan – “PPP”) are having a snit with the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa – “PKB”). Other than dealing with internal strife, the supporters are also focused on saving their own electability. Some parties in the consortium, i.e. PSI, the Indonesian Unity (Partai Persatuan Indonesia – “Perindo”) Party, and PPP are predicted to fail the parliamentary threshold requirement. They would prefer to deal with this first rather than caring about maintaining Jokowi’s electability.

It would also be very difficult for Jokowi to hope that he can rely on the bureaucracy and the police, as we have always suspected. The experiment made by Central Java’s Governor Ganjar Pranowo has failed. On Sunday (17/3), Ganjar held a National Address in Simpang Lima Square, Semarang. Using Rp 18 billion of the Regional Budget, he ordered regional heads to mobilize the masses. A number of top artists from the capital, including Slank, were present. However, the Jokowi-supported event disguised as National Address failed. The police have also delayed or cancelled Millennial Safety Road Festivals in various cities with the stated reason to maintain good atmosphere during the election. The event was previously suspected as a disguised Jokowi campaign.

On Friday (22/3), the Chief of Police issued a circular regulating the neutrality of the State Police in all stages of the election. Among others, the circular states, “It is prohibited to be photographed or to take selfies in social media in the pose of holding up one’s forefinger or thumb, or to pose with fingers forming the letter “V”, which might be used by certain parties to accuse the State Police of partisanship or lack of neutrality.” Furthermore, members of the Police Force are prohibited from attending, or serving as speaker or interviewee in any political declaration, meeting, campaign, or assembly, except for the purpose of providing security as per orders.

Police personnel are also requested to avoid performing any counter-productive action that may reduce the trust of the people in the State Police. They are all requested to monitor and secure the 2019 Elections, so that the atmosphere remains cool, safe, and successful. “Avoid any violation by the members, no matter how small, that can affect the reputation of the State Police. All members must maintain and improve their alertness and readiness in the field,” said the Chief of Police instruction.

Weak militancy of his supporters, poorly integrated supporting political parties, ineffectiveness of government bureaucracy as the machine for victory, and the statement of the State Police as a neutral agency have all reduced Jokowi’s room to maneuver. All these are strong indicators that Jokowi is at the edge of defeat