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Seminar on Trends of Political Supports in Indonesia Two Years before 2019 National Elections


9 November 2017 - This presentation looked at the performance of the current Indonesian government — after three years under the administration of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) — in the eyes of the Indonesian citizens. The presentation was largely based on the public poll conducted through multi-stage random sampling by Saiful Muljani Research and Consulting (SMRC) on September 2017. The seminar also discusses the political support that Jokowi has two years before the 2019 national elections, by looking into how people evaluate the economy, politics, security, and law enforcement in the last three years. In addition, the public evaluation on government's policies and programs in many sectors of public life is also included.

Dr Djayadi Hanan during the presentation. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The seminar was presented by the executive director of SMRC, Djayadi Hanan, who is also a Lecturer of Political Science at Paramadina University in Jakarta where he serves as Director of The University’s Institute for Education Reform (IER). Dr Hanan holds a PhD in Political Science from Ohio State University as well as Master degrees both from Ohio University and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In 2012, he resided in Harvard Kennedy School as a research fellow where he conducted research on multiparty presidential democracy in developing countries. The seminar was attended by 28 people, from overseas, diplomatic corps, institutions of higher learning, private individuals and organisations. 

Dr Hanan showed that the public rating of the current government is high and stable at more than 60%, pointing out that the rating for the previous president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) was actually lower at the similar period of two years before his re-election in 2009. He argued that this technically meant that Jokowi is better positioned for re-election in 2019. The rating for the next most electable candidate, Prabowo, rose during the Jakarta election, but has dipped again after. Prabowo gained plenty of limelight stage during the Jakarta election, but it might be harder for him to get more stage and visibility after.

From Left to Right: Dr Ulla Fionna of the Indonesia Studies Programme, and Dr Djayadi Hanan. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The most pressing concern for the public is the economy. Since 2016, the public has given better evaluation of current economic condition compared to a few years ago. People are more optimistic about the economy, and there has been increased satisfaction in terms of access to health care and education services. However, only 16% stated that getting basic goods are easier now. There is also the difficulty of finding jobs and increasing unemployment, which has not been alleviated by the development of infrastructure. So it is likely that the government will focus most on the economic issues in the next two years.

At the same time, Jokowi is also facing problematic “coat-tail effect” bind in terms of political stability. Parties in Indonesia generally support the candidates whom they believe will help boost the popularity of the parties themselves. However, so far, the coat-tail effect has only gone to the PDIP. There is a lot of parallel to the increase in the support for Jokowi and the PDIP, but nothing significant to other parties. (Similarly for Prabowo, the trajectory of support for him is also parallel to the support for Gerindra.) This will have political implications: other parties will likely re-evaluate their support for Jokowi, thus bringing possibilities of schism. There are already signs of political parties wavering their already conflicted support. There are already signs of discomfort on the behaviour of PAN. If PAN moves out of the coalition, will Democrat moves in?

The seminar was attended by people from overseas, diplomatic corps, institutions of higher learning, private individuals and organisations. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Hanan also showed that the trust on the national police now has increased considerably, although the highest trust is still on the military (TNI), followed by the president. Will this mean that the candidates for the 2019 presidential election might come from the military? Dr Hanan showed that the current candidate names were led by Jokowi, followed by Prabowo. Another question from the audience also asked about whether the rise of the Islamic populism will affect Jokowi’s chance to be re-elected. Dr Hanan responded that for identity politics to be salient, the context has to be fertile. In terms of Wes Java election, for example, the context did not give enough fertile ground for identity politics to grow.