Foke and Jokowi Aren’t Only Ones Sweating Over Jakarta’s Election Results: So Are Prabowo, Mega and SBY
Given the first round of Jakarta’s gubernatorial race concluded with the candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo having a significant lead over incumbent Fauzi “Foke” Bowo based on quick count calculations, this is a good time to look at who are the biggest winners and losers of the campaign.
Whoever wins the race in the end, Prabowo Subianto will come out on top. By promising financial and political backing to Jokowi’s deputy, Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama , Prabowo managed to improve his relationship with the Indonesian Chinese community, who originally viewed him with suspicion due to his suspected involvement in the anti-Chinese riots of 1998.
Moreover, the lead of Jokowi and Ahok in the race, coupled with the results of several national surveys that found Prabowo was the most popular presidential candidate, provides the former military figure with momentum he could use to boost his popularity and that of his party, Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), ahead of the 2014 presidential race.
Former President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) also benefited from the race given it was Jokowi’s main backer. Its gains were not as substantial as Gerindra’s, though, because PDI-P is bigger and more established than Gerindra, and thus PDI-P has less room to grow.
In addition, the fact that Megawati herself was lackluster during her 2001 to 2004 presidency makes any gain from this victory less significant to her presidential ambition, should she still have any, in 2014.
Still, momentum is momentum, and should Megawati and the PDI-P play their cards right, and should Jokowi and Ahok govern Jakarta well, people might take a second look at Megawati and her party.
This race also showed that social media and grassroots campaigning is important, and contrary to the expectations, this time money couldn’t buy the race. Jokowi had a low-profile and yet was supported by a very effective campaign operation at the grassroots level.
Jokowi and Ahok’s supporters were enthusiastic, using online social networks to organize, to attract supporters and to debunk negative campaigning, such as the anti-Jokowi demonstration a day before the election by people claiming to be students from Solo, where Jokowi is mayor.
This level of enthusiasm could not be matched by Foke’s supporters.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) candidate Hidayat Nur Wahid snatched victory from the jaw of defeat. His third-place finish means he might be the power broker for the second round of voting.
While Jokowi secured the most votes, he is still well short of the 50 percent of votes he needs. He may well lose should Foke craft a coalition with the Democratic Party, who backed him the first time around, Golkar, who backed fifth-placed Alex Noerdin, and the PKS.
Not surprisingly, Jokowi has already paid a courtesy visit to Hidayat’s headquarters. Expect this visit to be the first lobbying attempt of many from the camps of Jokowi and Foke.
Now let’s look at the losers.
The Democratic Party was the biggest loser in the entire race. The Democratic Party hitched its wagon to a governor whom Democratic President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono once called “pepesan kosong” (“all empty talk”).
A couple of months ago, this political calculus made sense; Foke in May was ahead in polls, and he was the best-financed candidate, giving many people the view that he could easily spend his way to victory.
Foke’s loss would further feed into the narrative of the Democratic Party as out of touch, corrupt and heading south in the polls.
The other losers, sadly, are independent candidates.
The candidacy of respected economist Faisal Basri was hobbled by poor financing and difficulty attracting media attention. It also failed to generate buzz on social networks.
Faisal’s fourth-place finish will make it more difficult for independent candidates to receive traction in future races.
Yohanes Sulaiman is a lecturer at the Indonesian Defense University (Unhan).