Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo has once again proved to be the most popular politician in the country, a year out from a presidential election he has declared he will not contest.
According to a survey published on Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Joko is favored by 29 percent of respondents, with former general Prabowo Subianto second with 16 percent.
The survey questioned 1,600 people in 31 provinces from April 9 to 16.
Joko, who comes from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has topped almost every opinion poll, ahead of more experienced candidates such as Prabowo and his party’s chairwoman, Megawati Sukarnoputri.
“This is a sign that people really want to have young and fresh candidates other than those who have been in Indonesian politics since the New Order era,” said Philips J. Vermonte, a CSIS researcher.
On the question of whether Joko should run while still holding governorship, 55 percent of respondents agreed that he should, while 27 percent objected and 18 percent said they did not know.
The CSIS survey put business tycoon and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie third with 7 percent, followed by former president Megawati with 6 percent.
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla, former Constitutional Court chief Mahfud M.D. and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa rounded up the top seven candidates with 4 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Commenting on the survey, Joko said he was proud because most of the surveys placed him on top. “I can brag a little bit because many surveys [pick me],” he said with a smile.
He laughed when asked whether he would run for president, saying that he would focus on reaching the end of his term as Jakarta governor in 2017.
“Until this moment, I don’t think about that,” Joko said, adding that he usually ignored survey results.
Analysts have said that Joko’s loyalty to Megawati prevented him from expressing his willingness to run for president, as the chairwoman has indicated on several occasions that she wanted to run for a third time after being defeated in the previous two elections following her 2001 to 2004 stint as the nation’s president.
“PDI-P’s strong claim in the West Java gubernatorial election and victory in the Central Java election could boost Megawati’s intention to run,” Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan’s School of Social and Political Sciences, said on Sunday.
The ruling Democratic Party has expressed interest in having Joko as their candidate, with Ramadhan Pohan, deputy secretary general of the party, saying that if the window was closed for the governor to represent the PDI-P in 2014, his party was open to him.
“For those who have no chance of running for their party, the Democrats’ door is always open, including for Jokowi,” Ramadhan said, referring to the 51-year-old governor, who was elected last year after a successful stint as mayor of Solo.
“From his [Joko’s] face and look, we know he will never harm people.”