Indonesia: Java Votes Should Aid Jokowi Re-Election Bid

Arie Firdaus
180709_ID_Election_1000.jpg Officers at a polling station in Klaten, a district of Indonesia’s Central Java province, tether a goat to be given to a lucky voter on regional election day, June 27, 2018.
Kusumasari Ayuningtyas/BenarNews

Official results of regional elections held in June and released Monday should boost Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in his bid for a second term even though his ruling party suffered some losses, analysts said.

Jokowi is expected to be aided by results in key provinces on Java island, home to more than half of Indonesia’s 260 million people. Voters went to the polls on June 27 to elect governors, regency chiefs and mayors.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil won the West Java gubernatorial election, securing 33 percent of the vote, while incumbent Ganjar Pranowo won a second term as governor of Central Java province with 59 percent, data from the General Election Commission showed. Jokowi’s former minister of social affairs, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, received 53 percent of the vote of East Java.

“The results of these elections are very good for Jokowi,” said Philips Vermonte, executive director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The Jokowi brand is still strong.”

Philips said Ridwan and Khofifah were not backed by Jokowi’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), but expressed support for his re-election bid next year. He said other results could hurt PDIP even though it is led by the nation’s frontrunner.

“The trend isn’t too optimistic for PDIP because they lost key provinces,” he said, adding that the party’s candidate failed to win last year’s gubernatorial election in Jakarta.

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, saw some positive results.

Even in Central Java, the hotbed of PDIP supporters, main opposition party Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) candidate Sudirman Said made a strong showing at 41 percent, despite pre-election surveys predicting he would get less than 10 percent of the vote.

Earlier this year, (Gerindra) officially endorsed Prabowo Subianto, a retired lieutenant general with the Army special forces (Kopassus), to challenge Jokowi in the presidential election set for April 17, 2019. The race would be a rematch as Jokowi defeated Prabowo by more than 6 percentage points in 2014.

2019 election

Another analyst said candidates should not read too much into the latest totals to predict the 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections.

“Indonesian politics is very fluid, and alliances are not based on ideologies, but based on expediency and pragmatism,” Emrus Sihombing, a political analyst at Pelita Harapan University, told BenarNews. “But in simple terms, the victories of Ganjar, Khofifah and Ridwan could translate to support for Jokowi and Java is home to about 60 percent of Indonesia’s population.”

Jokowi has yet to name his running mate and coalition party leaders are jockeying to be the vice-presidential candidate.

Johnny G. Plate, secretary greneral of the National Democratic Party, a member of the ruling coalition, said Jokowi’s eventual running mate could be a surprise.

“Hint: He or she will be gladly accepted by the coalition parties,” Johnny told news portal

PDIP chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri said a date had not been set for Jokowi to name a running-mate.

“The announcement will be made when the moment is right, and the weather is bright. Just wait and be patient,” she said.


Last month’s election did not go off without any hitches. The Constitutional Court website showed 22 cases of challenges to results that were lodged as of Monday, but none challenged gubernatorial results in West Java, Central Java and East Java provinces.

Court spokesman Fajar Laksano declined to say when the cases would be heard. “We have 45 days to process them,” he said.

Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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