November 16, 2022
JAKARTA – A Kompas survey released on Monday showed that incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo still had some influence over the 2024 presidential election, with 15.1 percent of respondents saying they would vote for whomever Jokowi endorsed and and 35.7 percent saying they were still considering whether they would follow his endorsement.
Of the 1,200 respondents polled nationwide, 30.1 percent said they would not follow Jokowi’s lead, while the remaining 19.1 percent were still undecided. The survey, conducted face-to-face from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7, indicates the broad public support the current administration still enjoys, with the survey stating that its public approval rating stands at 62.1 percent.
While Jokowi has not officially endorsed any candidates so far, he has, somewhat jokingly, named Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto as his successor. “I won the election twice. My apologies, Pak Prabowo. But it seems that after this, it will be Pak Prabowo’s turn,” Jokowi said while attending the United Indonesia Party’s (Perindo) anniversary event last week.
The Gerindra Party chairman, who ran and lost twice against Jokowi in 2014 and 2019, announced his third candidacy in August, backed by his own party and the National Awakening Party (PKB). In various polls, Prabowo has consistently ranked as one of the three leading candidates together with Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, who recently received an endorsement from the pro-government NasDem Party.
But various political figures, including from Jokowi’s own party the PDI-P, have warned the President against intervening in political matters. “The President should never be involved in elections,” said PDIP-P central executive board member Ahmad Basarah last week as quoted by Kompas.
Andi Arief from the opposition Democratic Party concurred, noting that Jokowi’s habit of endorsing various figures, not just Prabowo, was unhealthy. “It’s unethical for a president to indiscriminately endorse multiple candidates this early. Today it’s Airlangga, tomorrow Ganjar and the next it’s Prabowo,” said Andi as reported by Tempo last week.
He was referring to Airlangga Hartarto, who chairs the second-largest party in the House of Representatives, the Golkar Party.
Despite being the coordinating economic minister and launching a major branding campaign, Airlangga and Golkar have been unable to boost his popularity.
Jokowi as kingmaker?
Political researcher Firman Noor of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), however, said that Jokowi’s potential role as a kingmaker for 2024 was overblown.
“There were talks about Jokowi being the kingmaker, but after NasDem’s decision to strike out on their own, it’s clear that voters won’t really look to Jokowi for reference,” said Firman.
When the official list of endorsed candidates begins to emerge as the election draws near, Firman noted that Jokowi’s influence would wane even more as “he won’t be able to intervene”. He added that Jokowi’s off-the-cuff remarks should not be taken as him meddling in political affairs, but more about the President’s lack of political acumen.
“His endorsement hasn’t only been directed to Prabowo, but to [Golkar’s Airlangga] as well,” Firman said.
At Golkar’s 58th anniversary celebration in October, Jokowi advised the party against being “reckless” in picking its candidate. “I’m certain that Golkar will be very careful, diligent and conscientious in declaring [its] presidential and vice-presidential candidates for 2024,” he said. Jokowi emphasized that with the world on the verge of another economic crisis, Indonesia needed an experienced leader that could navigate the rough waters ahead, singling out Airlangga by name.
At a rally held by Jokowi’s supporter group Projo in May, Jokowi also subtly hinted at throwing his support behind fellow PDI-P politician Ganjar Pranowo, who was also attending the rally. “And, speaking about politics, let’s not be hasty […] even though maybe the one we support [in the coming election] is actually here,” Jokowi said to the cheers of his supporters.
But Firman reasoned that these endorsements were without substance and in no way portended the future of these political figures. “I see this more as his way of being polite, but he won’t actually make any effort in campaigning for Prabowo and the others,” he said.