In badminton, you can earn points when your opponent makes mistakes. Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla says it’s the same in politics. It’s a comment to keep in mind as Indonesia heads to the polls to elect a president on 17 April 2019. If a candidate’s campaign strategy is misconstrued or off message, one could end up handing victory to the other side.

The presidential election squares off incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo against Prabowo Subianto for a second time. In 2014, Jokowi defeated the retired three-star army general. It’s a victory Jokowi is seeking to repeat; to shut down critics who say he lacks Islamic piety, Jokowi has chosen Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his potential vice-president. Meanwhile, Prabowo has picked Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, the well-heeled businessman and former vice-governor of Jakarta, as his running mate. The campaign period, as set by the General Elections Commission (GEC), runs from 23 September 2018 to 13 April 2019. 

Jokowi ahead (so far)

With months to go, end-of-year polls show that Jokowi is projected to win over 50% of the vote. There’s still plenty of time, however, for Prabowo to woo undecided voters. While a survey (link in Bahasa Indonesia) by the independent Kompas daily news portal projected 52.6% of the vote to Jokowi-Ma’ruf and 32.7% to Prabowo-Sandiaga, there were still 14.7% respondents who had chosen to keep their preference confidential.

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Warief Djajanto Basorie reported for the domestic KNI News Service in Jakarta from 1971 to 1991 and concurrently was Indonesia correspondent for the Manila-based DEPTHnews Asia (DNA, 1974-1991). In 1991, Warief joined the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS, Lembaga Pers Dr. Soetomo), a journalism school in Jakarta, as an instructor and convenor in thematic journalism workshops. He was project manager for three cycles of workshops on covering climate change from 2012 to 2017. More than 600 journalists in provinces in Sumatra, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi and Papua that are prone to carbon-emitting forest and peat fires have participated.