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 KN I News Service in Jakarta 1971-1991 and concurrently was Indonesia correspondent for the Manila- based DEPTHnews Asia (DNA, 1974-1991). DNA is a feature service reporting on development in Asia for Asian media in English and the vernacular. English-language subscribers included the Bangkok Post, Hong Kong Standard, Asian Wall Street Journal, Indonesia Times, Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In 1991 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. Most recently was project manager for three cycles of workshops on covering climate change since 2012. More than 600 journalists in provinces in Sumatra, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi and Papua prone to forest and peat fires have participated. The latest cycle ended December 2017.