Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo’s popularity has taken a hit in the past two months, to the benefit of his closest rival, but the incumbent is still the favorite to win the upcoming gubernatorial election, a new survey suggests.
The results of the poll by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI), published on Sunday, showed that 43.3 percent of the respondents said they would vote for Fauzi.
That figure was down from 49.1 percent in a similar poll carried out in late March by the LSI.
The new survey showed that of the six candidates, only Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, saw his popularity rise during the past two months, going from 14.4 percent to 20.9 percent.
Toto Izul Fatah, the LSI executive director, said the findings were significant because they showed Jokowi faring much better than the other challengers and taking a big chunk out of Fauzi’s lead.
“He’s become a candidate who must be reckoned with, and the incumbent will have to watch out for him,” Toto said. “If Jokowi can build on this trend with a variety of community programs, then he will certainly threaten the incumbent.”
He attributed Jokowi’s rising popularity to his camp’s “cleverly packaged” campaign programs.
No other candidates managed to garner more than 10 percent in the LSI poll.
Toto said part of the reason that Fauzi remained popular despite Jokowi’s onslaught was that he was seen as a figure of authority amid rising security threats in the capital.
“The respondents raised concerns about Jakarta becoming more unsafe because of the proliferation of hard-line groups, as seen in opposition to the Irshad Manji book discussion and the Lady Gaga concert,” Toto said. “What the respondents are looking for is someone like [former governor] Ali Sadikin, who had the guts to stand up for diversity and put hard-liners in their place.”
Toto said the Ali comparison was important because three out of four respondents said they wanted the next governor to have the same qualities as Ali, who governed from 1966 to 1977.
He said that when polled, 41 percent of the respondents said none of the candidates had Ali’s qualities. But 22.4 percent said Fauzi came closest, followed by Jokowi at 8.6 percent.
The book discussion by Manji, a liberal Muslim advocate from Canada, was broken up in early May by the extremist Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), whose threats of violence also prompted Lady Gaga to cancel her concert in Jakarta scheduled for next weekend.
The survey also showed high approval for various programs under Fauzi’s administration, but Iberamsjah, a political analyst from the University of Indonesia, said those were all old programs and the incumbent had brought nothing new since coming to office.
“You have to understand that the programs that Fauzi’s been running all this time are those that were initiated by Sutiyoso [the previous governor],” he said.
He added that many programs introduced by Fauzi had in fact failed, including attempts to expand the TransJakarta busway network.
Toto said that the LSI’s latest survey echoed projections by the group’s earlier poll that Fauzi would not win the election in a single round and that it would go to a runoff vote.
Though the survey in March identified a range of possible opponents to face the incumbent in the runoff, this time Toto said it was looking more like a Fauzi-Jokowi faceoff.
The poll showed that if the election was held today, 49 percent of the respondents would vote for Fauzi while 27.8 percent would vote for Jokowi. The rest were either undecided or unwilling to disclose their preferences.