Joko a Favorite in 2014, but Megawati Could Spoil the Party

By webadmin on 08:25 am Feb 20, 2013
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Carlos Paath

While convincingly leading two recent surveys on possible candidates for the 2014 presidential election, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo appears unlikely to run.

Analysts contend that Joko will have to be content to remain as governor as long as Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president and the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Joko is a member, decides to run for the nation’s highest seat.

Megawati has several times hinted at a run in 2014 despite losing twice in a row to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2004 and 2009, while a number of PDI-P officials were quick to say that Joko should concentrate on solving Jakarta’s problems.

“It’s very difficult for Joko to run, if not impossible,” said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences. “I think he will be a candidate, and win it all in 2019, though.”

A survey by the Jakarta Survey Institute (LSJ), published on Tuesday, showed that Joko topped other candidates with 18.1 percent of respondents voting for him if the election was held now. The survey, which polled 1,225 respondents nationwide from Feb. 9-15, put Prabowo Subianto, a retired general previously considered the top contender, a distant second with 10.9 percent, and Megawati sixth with 7.2 percent.

The survey put Wiranto, the chairman of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), and Jusuf Kalla, the former vice president, in third and fourth place with 9.8 percent and 8.9 percent respectively.

Tycoon and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie was in fifth place with 8.7 percent of respondents voting for him.

A poll by the United Data Center (PDB) conducted from Jan. 3-18 and surveying 1,200 respondents in 30 provinces also found that Joko topped a list of 33 possible candidates by receiving support from 21.2 percent of respondents.

In second place was Prabowo with 17.1 percent. Third was Megawati with 11.5 percent, followed by Rhoma Irama, a dangdut singer turned conservative cleric, with 10.4 percent.

While legislators are still negotiating the threshold required for parties to nominate a presidential candidate, many say the current figure of 20 percent will be maintained, meaning anyone intending to run needs support from a party or coalition of parties that have won at least 20 percent of the popular vote in the legislative election, which is scheduled for April 2014.

Aleksius said that as Article 6 of the Constitution obviates the possibility of an independent candidate, there was no other way for Joko to run for president without getting support from the PDI-P.

He said that with Joko effectively ruled out because of Megawati’s ambition, this paved the way for Prabowo to win in 2014, and pointed to the high popularity of Prabowo’s Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) in the survey.

The LSJ’s survey on how political parties would perform in 2014 put Gerindra in third place with 10.3 percent out of 10 parties eligible to run, with Golkar and the PDI-P coming first and second with 18.5 percent and 16.5 percent respectively.

“With his party now getting double digits in the survey, Prabowo will be able to run by gathering support from small parties to reach the required 20 percent. I think it will be a three-horse race between Megawati, Aburizal and Prabowo in 2014.

If this is the case, then Prabowo has the biggest chance to win the presidency,” Aleksius said.

Other analysts have expressed doubt that Prabowo will be able to drum up the necessary political support from small parties, saying Gerindra ideally needs the backing of a major party like the PDI-P or the Democrats, who have no clear figurehead to nominate in 2014 once President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono steps down.

But Islamic parties like the United Development Party (PPP) and National Awakening Party (PKB) may flock to support Prabowo, said political analyst Fadjroel Rachman of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate.

Prabowo also met recently with Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy and chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), in a move seen as lobbying for a partnership with the PAN and its close ally, the Democrats.

“If Prabowo can show he is the strongest candidate and can win, then the president will support him,” Aleksius said.

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