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Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja
Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

Asia

Rallying Jokowi backers into a cohesive group

The Straits Times | Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja | Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

1 FOR VICTORY, 2 FOR BALANCE: Former general Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa (left) drew No. 1 for the presidential election ballot, while Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and his running mate Jusuf Kalla (right) drew No. 2, at the Election Commission on Sunday. Their photos and names will be listed in that order on the ballot paper for the July 9 polls and on posters. Mr Prabowo’s supporters shouted “No. 1 means victory”, while Mr Joko said “No. 2 symbolises balance”.

Several dozen new groups have sprung up in recent weeks in Indonesia: Friends of Jokowi-JK, Labour Friends of Jokowi and Volunteers for Jokowi, to name a few. And then there's ProJo and Jo-Man - short for Jokowi-mania.

Presidential candidate Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, and his running mate Jusuf Kalla, or JK, have been busy meeting the volunteers behind these outfits.

Their aim? To get them fired up for the month-long campaign, which begins tomorrow.

The Joko-Kalla pair in the presidential elections need to quickly organise these support groups as arrayed against the duo is the more tightly-run team of a former general, Mr Prabowo Subianto, and his running mate, Mr Hatta Rajasa, who leads an Islamic party.

"There's so much support from the ground, but we have not organised them well," Mr Joko told leaders of political parties backing his campaign last week. "Never mind, let it emerge... Hopefully two weeks, three weeks prior to election day, we will hear a click as we connect."

Support for the Joko-Kalla ticket is highest, going by opinion polls. But these supporters tend to spontaneously form groups, thus giving the impression that backing is fragmented.

Campaign team members are going on the offensive nationwide to rally supporters and convince the many undecided voters.

The Joko-Kalla team have scored some hits: Democratic Party convention winner Dahlan Iskan, who is state-owned enterprises minister, on Saturday said he was stumping for the duo as the best bet to lead Indonesia.

Mr Dahlan's support comes days after popular convention participant and educator Anies Baswedan agreed to be one of the team's spokesmen. The Democrats have so far said they will remain neutral as a party, although members are free to back either side.

A key battleground is the Internet and social media, with some 50 million Facebook users in Indonesia.

Campaign workers are creating posters, short online leaflets and rebuttals to attacks on social media. Some of these are being used by volunteers who print them out and go door to door across the archipelago to woo residents.

This blast is driven by the fact that opponent Mr Prabowo has been aggressively using social media. As public policy academic Wijayanto notes: "Prabowo's cyber team are using automatic machine guns, while Jokowi's are using traditional weapons."

In recent days, Mr Joko's team has rallied support from pop musicians and sportsmen to help get the word around. A group of volunteers have been mobilising bus and minivan drivers and street vendors to play music and hand out Joko-Kalla stickers.

Mr Joko has also decided to re-brand his outfit, forgoing his white campaign shirts and returning to red-and-blue checkered shirts he first used when running to be the capital's governor in 2012 in a bid to distinguish himself from his opponents.

Mr Kalla will, however, still wear white to signal that diversity is valued.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 03, 2014.
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