Mood, Wisdom and Passions of Middle Class in Upcoming Indonesian Election

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One
of the fastest growing economies (over 6%) and the forthcoming power house in
the impressive world’s top 10 club, as well as the largest Muslim (but secular,
republican and non-Arab) country is heading towards its presidential elections.
Mood, wisdom and passions of the strongly emerging Indonesian middle class will
be decisive this time. Or by words of distinguish colleague of mine, professor
Anis Bajrektarevic: “The middle class
is like a dual-use technology, it can be deployed peacefully, but it also might
be destructively weaponized, for at home or abroad.”  

From November 2013 to January 2014,  Faculty of Social and Politics, University of
Jayabaya (UJ), periodically conducted surveys related to the electability of
the political parties and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for
the 2014 elections. The results show that the electability of the Democratic
Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) have been decreasing following
corruption cases. The survey was conducted in 33 provinces by taking a sample
of 1225 people which have the right to vote (aged 17 years and over. or not yet
17 years old but already married). The margin of error is + / – 2.8% and the
confidence level is 95%. Population Data were collected through interviews
withrespondents using techniques based on the questionnaire.

When asked whether the respondents still
believe that the PKS is a “clean party”, about 66% said “not
sure”. Only 15.7% of respondents believe that the PKS is still a
“clean party”, the rest (18.3%) did not know. When asked whether the
party of which the cadres are most involved in corruption cases, as many as
67.3% of respondents mentioned the Democratic Party. PKS came in as distant
second at 5.8% and has taken over from Golkar Party. which is now mentioned as
third (5.2%). When I asked respondents, the party to be selected if elections
wereheld today.only 6.9% would vote for the Democratic Party. Only 2.6% would
vote for PKS, much lower than their result in 2009, which was 8%.

In terms of electability, the Golkar Party
remained in the top position with 18.9%. When referring to the results of a
survey of various other research institutions, Golkar’s chance to win the 2014
election seems pretty open. The Golkar Party is still being followed by PDI-P
with a rate of 16.8% electability. Gerindra, which in the 2009 elections ended
in eighth place, according to my survey electability has now reached the level
of 10.3% and is in third place.

 

The high electability of the Golkar Party is
apparently inversely proportional to chairperson Aurizal Bakrie (ARB), which is
in a fifth position as presidential candidate, at 8.7%. This is far below
JokoWidodo (Jokowi) which ranks as the first public option among the most
potential candidates (15,1 %).

Jokowi is a symbol of new hope for the people.
He is simple, honest and populist. Jokowi is showing togetherness between the
leaders and the led. “He is one of us”. Jokowi quite successfully
managed to bring himself to the public with a policy in which he often visits
slums in Jakarta. If in the United States (U.S.) people were disappointed with
the war on terrorism of President Bush and elected Barrack Obama, it is
possible that if Jokowi steps forward as a 2014 presidential candidate,
Indonesian people will chose him because of their disappointment overthe war on
corruption under President SusiloBambangYudhoyono during the second period from
2009 to now.

On average, respondents said they agree that if
Jokowi would run for the presidency, and would not be concerned if Jokowi did
not finish the job until his term as Jakarta Governor until 2017. Only 26% of
respondents would not agree. Jokowi, who is PD1-P cadre.also received support
from other party voters. For example, 26% of Golkar voters would choose Jokowi,
as would 33.5% of Democratic Party voters, 13.8% of Gerindra voters, 35.1% of
Hanura voters, 35.1%, 26.7% of PAN voters and 59.5% of PKS voters. The passing
away of MPR Chairman Taufik Kiemas of the PDI-P should open the possibilities
for younger party cadre, such as Jokowi in order to get a maximum results.
instead of proposing the older chairperson MegawatiSoekarnoputri as candidate.

PRABOWO SUBIANTO VS JOKOWI

Jokowi
electability level surpasses its competitors. The nearest is only Prabowo
Subianto (13,9%). If the 2014 presidential
election took place in two rounds where Jokowi would go head to head with
Prabowo. But Prabowo Subianto and Gerindra Party requires
extra efforts to get support from other parties to form a coalition. For that
he continued his guerrilla to garner support. Of whom he had met were Hatta
Rajasa, Chairman of the PAN, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Chairman of the
Democratic Party (PD). He was also diligent in communicating with a number of
leaders of other parties, including the PDI-P. As a presidential candidate,
Prabowo fits the bill on a number of levels. He was Megawati’s running
mate in her unsuccessful 2009 campaign, and he will have learned much from
that. His reputation feeds the belief that Indonesia needs a return to
assertive leadership, while his association with the former first family
strikes a chord among the cross section of Indonesians who feel let down by
democracy and who harbour a genuine nostalgia for the Suharto era.

It
would be very interesting if the two favored public figures then do not get
tickets in contestation. Other figures will be born. The names that are under
them will pop up, among them, Megawati, Bakrie, Hatta Rajasa, Dahlan Iskan, Mahfud
MD, Jusuf Kalla, and so on. If that happens, a new candidate will emerge.
Proponents of Jokowi and Prabowo Subianto will be disappointed, some will
survive to follow the motion of the party, and others will move wildly
following their own logic. The figures that follow PD convention will have an
opportunities. Related to
the Partai Demokrat’s convention, State Minister for State Owned Enterprises,
Dahlan Iskhan, still chairing the convention, followed by Pramono Edhi
Wibowo, Gita Wirjawan, Anis Baswedan, and Dino Patti Djalal.  It is very likely that Democratic
Party will step down from their status of incumbent in the next general
election of 2014. If their kept their position as the top 3, there will still
be a chance to nominate their convention winner as presidential candidate –
even though if they need to do a coalition with other parties. If not, then
whoever picked as their candidate will only be feasible to be a potential vice
president candidate. 

Currently,
the candidates are not dealing with incumbent or a candidate supported by the
ruling party. Even the two names, Jokowi and Prabowo, come from the opposition
party. There is excitement to correct public policy or seek a different
atmosphere from the color of the current ruler. These two figures represent the
antithesis of SBY. Jokowi is a rustic figures, common people, not handsome,
simple, informal, and so on. This contrasts with SBY; handsome, elegant,
charming, and formalistic. While Prabowo represent nationalistic thinking,
assertive, and pro-people – at least as his speech. This is in contrast with
the image of SBY who over consider the interests of the world and foreign
investors, closer to the elite, and too cautious in decision making.

All of this indirectly answers the two questions at the beginning. The 2014
presidential election is not as simple as one might imagine, especially over
the spread of electability numbers of various polls. The numbers are not fully
pro Jokowi. Still, there is a possible rise of surprises. First, if the Court
annulled the candidacy requirement of 20 per cent to three per cent. Secondly,
if there is a mistake of Jokowi as governor and his supporters. The fanatical
supporter’s attitude as shown in the world of social media and the birth of Pro
Jokowi movement has a weak point of its own. Third, if a figure exists that
could encapsulate all the expectations of the voters. Prabowo Subianto, who has
a handicap in the past, was accepted because he carries this message. This
expectation is also reflected in the high popularity of Dahlan Iskan and Jusuf
Kalla. Still, the popularity of the President also shows that the public wants
harmony, order, and decency. On the other hand, the public is still easily
swept away by advertising and traditional loyalty. The color of pragmatism is a
reality that remains in any society.

PROGRAM
PARTY

Based on the findings the Survey, people crave
the emergence of an alternative leadership figure. The people like leaders who
have a love of integrity, and who are honest. clean. populist, and have a
strong commitment to the reform agenda. such as the eradication of corruption.
and a good track record. The people would consider a candidate who has the
ability to solve national problems, especially economic problems.

Results from various surveys taken,
Prabowo Subianto, electability-wise, is by far the strongest competitor for
Jokowi. According to media monitoring, including social media, that
the writer did, it was obvious that Prabowo – as well as Jokowi – is the leader
figure that the people are talking about. Prabowo’s popularity able to
counterbalance that of Jokowi’s. The public perceive Prabowo as a firm and bold
figure. Not only that, he is also considered have the capability to solve
Indonesia’s chronic problems, which are corruption, poverty, and security.
Prabowo is being assessed as a candidate with the clearest and definite vision
and mission compared to others, especially the one that related to his “Ekonomi
Kerakyatan” programme, like the one of 1 billion fund policy for every
village in Indonesia if he were to be elected as the next President come 2014.
Prabowo clearly supported by Gerindra party as their 2014 Presidential
Candidate, whereas Jokowi, who still leads other 2014 presidential candidates’
electability, at the moment still waiting for a certainty to be nominated as
his party’s, PDI Perjuangan, presidential candidate, or still waiting for the
official final decision to be made by the PDIP’s chairperson, Megawati
Soekarnoputri. Meanwhile, the main problem for Prabowo centers on whether
Gerindra will be able to breakthrough the 20 percent parliamentary threshold
required, in order to avoid being forced to do a coalition with other parties
and be able to nominate their own candidate(s). Moreover, nominating Prabowo
Subianto as their presidential candidate is a must for them. If Gerindra able
to achieve 20 percent of legislative slots, then the next strategy, which will
be crucial, for Prabowo is his eye in choosing the perfect companion for the
vice president position, who would be able to widen the public’s support for
him.

In general, the results of the survey show
several trends:

First, there is a real possibility that the
Democratic Party will be replaced as the largest political party by Golkar or
PDI-P. The apparently never ending internal conflicts on the alleged
involvement of some party leaders in a number of cases of corruption is
hijacking the Democratic Party and this could last into next year. This is not
to mention the issue of dynastic politics, of which President SBY is often
criticized. Therefore.the desire of the Democratic Party by the President SBY
to hold the Democratic convention later in the month of July-August 2014 could
be interpreted as an effort to increase the popularity and electability.

Second,  the
political map in the House of Representatives will likely become much simpler
due to the decreasing number of political parties that will achieve national
parliamentary seats, as the parliamentary threshold is increased from 2.5 to
3.5 percent.

Third, it is possible that the largest political
party will not get morethan 30 percent. so that seats are more evenly distributed
over all parties participating in the elections. Indonesian voters make their
choice based more on emotion. For either party with a good image or able to
improve its image, there is an abundance of opportunities from swing voters.
But parties of which the image is damaged by “cases”, will likely
lose disproportionally. PDI-P and Golkar Party tend to have a stable
electorate.

Fourth, there is the possibility that Islamic and
Islamic-based political parties (National Mandate Party -PAN, the National Awakening
PartyPKB , the Prosperous Justice Party – PKS. the Crescent Star Party – PBB
and the United Development Party-PPP) will be eliminated in the 2014 election.
Factors are public policy mistakes made by these parties, and the absence of
presidential candidates or high profile leaders. The declining of electability of
Islamic parties could bring about “poros tengah” (central axis)
discourse a coalition between Islamic parties, considering there are still
potentials of votes from Indonesian population that are mostly Muslims.

Fifth, the
2014 election is the momentum of the transition generation. Currently only the
PDI-P and the Democratic Party give ample space for the emergence of young
leaders in 2014. About 40-70% of the productive age group (18-40 years) who
become potential voters want change in 2014. and this is reflected in the
orientation and preferences of those who like the new lc,ider figures. The
Democratic Candidates convention November 2013-March 2014 has a chance to end
the gerontocracy (rule led by the majority of the elderly) in Indonesia. In the 2014 general election, there
will be a potential of novice voters, in which most of them consist of young
people and used to using the internet, as big as 40 percent of the total
voters. Therefore, campaign using “cyber warrior” and social media
could be the more effective way to generate their votes.

Sixth, is the tendency of those who do not use their
right to vote in the upcoming election (abstentions). This is also reflected in
the considerable number of swing voters, i.e. those who do not or not yet
provide a political choice (undecided voters). It is also visible in a floating
mass who are disappointed in the current ruling political parties and in thetransactional
politics (horsetrading). The young people are seen to have the ability and
integrity, and candidates matter more than political parties.

Seventh,  politics is always concerned
with probabilities. Therefore, manuvers, strategy, and the choice of political
party elites will remain crucial in the 2014 election beyond the limits in the
program and the issues or platforms of each party. In this context, the
practice of money politics will still be used to expand support, followed by
highly flexible political manuevering to serve the needs and intrests of the
parties and their leaders.

·        
Igor Dirgantara is Senior Researcher & Lecturer
at Faculty of Social Politics, University Jayabaya, Jakarta, Indonesia

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