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Friday, Jul 4, 2014

Asia

Last ditch vote grab in Java

The Jakarta Post/ANN | Friday, Jul 4, 2014

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo remains confident about his presidential chances.

Jakarta - West Java and East Java will particularly play pivotal roles in determining the outcome of the presidential election, as candidates and their supporters come to the fore to make a last-ditch attempt to lure voters in the nation's most populous provinces.

As surveys have indicated, the electability gap between Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Prabowo Subianto is closing to between 3 and 7 per cent, still in favour of Jokowi. A grab of votes in the provinces is crucial for both tickets as undecided voters in the regions remain high at above 10 per cent.

West Java is the last stop on Jokowi's campaign trail outside of Jakarta before the General Elections Commission (KPU) halts all campaign activities on July 6 ahead of election day on July 9.

Despite the challenge laid to secure West Java, Jokowi said that he was upbeat about winning in the area due to solid public support.

"Of course, winning in all provinces is our target, but West Java is currently our focus because, at the moment, we are quite weak here," Jokowi said on the sidelines of his campaign tour.

"But we are very organised. We have strong ties with the farmers and ordinary people. We have organised volunteers and have the machine of the political parties running," Jokowi said, attempting to express optimism.

West Java has the largest number of eligible voters in the country, accounting for 17.5 per cent of the 188 million eligible voters.

The province consists largely of conservative Muslims. Its serving governor, Ahmad Heryawan, is a politician with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) while the mayor of Bandung, Ridwan Kamil, is supported by PKS and Prabowo's Gerindra Party.

The province is also a flashpoint for a string of sectarian conflicts involving Sunni, Ahmadiyah and Shia communities. Several regencies in the province, such as Bekasi, have also witnessed the sealing of churches.

Jokowi was his usual down-to-earth self, reaching out to people during a campaign rally in Sukabumi, West Java, on Wednesday.

Along the way from Sukabumi to Bandung, the province's capital, the non-active Jakarta governor was seen handing out T-shirts to passersby, surprising them with his unexpected presence as well as the free gifts.

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