Jokowi: Indonesia’s most popular presidential possibility

By Bagus BT Saragih | Source: ANN

In spite of his public assertion that he will not run in the 2014 presidential election, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has become Indonesia’s most popular presidential possibility due to the negative media coverage of most established political parties, a study has revealed.

Constant media reports on the turmoil within President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party and the corruption allegations leveled against Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) leader Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, among others, have not only engendered a poor image of those two parties but has also driven up the popularity of alternative candidates like Jokowi, the Pol-Tracking Institute has revealed.

“People want new figures rather than to focus on those who have been officially nominated by political parties. Jokowi’s performance as Jakarta’s governor has managed to grab the media’s attention, which constantly runs stories about him. As a result, the public wants him to be president even though he has never declared himself a presidential candidate,” Pol-Tracking Institute Executive Director Hanta Yudha told a press conference on Sunday.

The Pol-Tracking Institute released on Sunday its study of media coverage of political parties and presidential candidates between February and March this year.

The pollster analysed 15 media outlets, five each in the print, online and television categories.

The study found that there were 86 news stories run by these media outlets discussing a potential run by Jokowi in 2014.

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto, the presidential candidate from the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, only received coverage in 55 news stories.

The Golkar Party’s Aburizal Bakrie, who has also been named his party’s presidential candidate, came in third place with 52 stories in spite of a massive media campaign aimed at polishing his image.

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, the official presidential candidate of the National Mandate Party (PAN), only had coverage in 27 news items.

Jokowi, who is an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, has repeatedly shrugged off survey results that put him on the top of the list of most popular presidential candidates.

“I don’t want to think about surveys. I want to focus on tackling floods and gridlock,” he has said.

Some PDI-P politicians, including the party’s secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo, however, have hinted that the party might be warming to the idea of nominating Jokowi in 2014.

Hanta, however, said that the fate of Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election would be in the hands of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri.

The party’s last congress decided to give Megawati the sole power to name the party’s presidential candidate.

“If Jokowi really runs in the 2014 race, it will greatly affect the political situation. One of the most likely possibilities is that many parties will approach the PDI-P to build a coalition,” he said.

The Pol-Tracking study also showed the embattled Democratic Party received massive media coverage with 60 per cent of all 6,205 media reports surveyed mentioning the ruling party.

But the massive media coverage mostly focused on the party’s internal rifts.

“The conflict involving Yudhoyono, Anas and their Democratic Party was in the headlines for a quite long period of time,” Hanta said, referring to Yudhoyono and former Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum.

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