A survey released by the Jakarta-based Pol-Tracking Institute has shown that public approval of the Joko "Jokowi" Widodo-Jusuf Kalla administration has plunged below 50 per cent just five months after the pair assumed the country's leadership.
Conducted from March 23 to 31, the survey, published on Sunday, found that the public satisfaction rating of the Jokowi-Kalla administration stood at only 44 per cent. While 48.5 per cent of the survey's 1,200 respondents said they were dissatisfied with the government's performance, the remaining 7.5 per cent did not answer or were undecided.
"The level of public dissatisfaction is higher than the satisfaction rating. That should sound the alarms for Jokowi and Kalla to immediately improve the performance of their administration," Pol-Tracking executive director Hanta Yuda said.
The survey - held in 33 of the country's 34 provinces with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 per cent and a confidence level of 95 per cent - also found that the respondents considered the economy to be the new government's worst-performing sector, with only 28.7 per cent satisfied with the government's performance in that sector.
Among the five sectors assessed in the survey - the economy, justice and corruption eradication, security, education and health - only the last two received a public satisfaction rating of above 50 per cent, with health scoring 52.7 per cent and education scoring 51.4 per cent.
"The high level of public dissatisfaction in the economic sector is primarily down to skyrocketing prices of staple foodstuffs, gas and electricity, and the fluctuation of fuel prices in recent months," Hanta said, referring to one of the survey's findings that revealed that 55 per cent of the respondents identified the soaring prices of basic staple needs as the nation's most pressing problem currently.
Jokowi and Kalla were inaugurated as President and Vice President on Oct. 20 after winning last year's presidential election. The pair garnered 53.15 per cent of votes, beating Gerindra Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, who won 46.85 per cent.
Despite his narrow victory, Jokowi failed to secure majority support in the House of Representatives after five political parties supporting Prabowo-Hatta presidential nomination formed a coalition in the legislative body, which resulted in months of infighting between the ruling and opposition coalitions over leadership of the House.
The President has also struggled to exert control over law enforcers, as shown by the recent controversy regarding the nomination as National Police chief of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, a confidant of the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Megawati Soekarnoputri, who endorsed Jokowi as the party's presidential candidate.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Budi a graft suspect shortly after Jokowi announced his nomination in January. The National Police retaliated by naming then KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto a suspect in a perjury case. The police later moved against then KPK chairman Abraham Samad, naming him a suspect in a document forgery case.
A survey released earlier this month by Indo Barometer found that the satisfaction rating for the Jokowi-Kalla administration stood at 57.5 per cent.
PDI-P lawmaker Hendrawan Supratikno, who also chairs the party's economic body, said the relatively low public satisfaction in the new administration was to be expected given the limited time it had and the political turbulence that had hampered the government's efforts to consolidate power and resources to implement new policies.
"Five or six months is clearly too short a time for the new government to bring about significant economic improvement," he argued.
"Many people currently feel the burden of fuel price increases. But three years from now, they will start to see the benefits of the reallocation of fuel subsidies to infrastructure development."
Gerindra lawmaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, meanwhile, argued that the poor public opinion of the government in the legal sector was due to the months-long standoff between the KPK and the police.
Dasco, however, expressed optimism that the new police chief, Gen. Badrodin Haiti, who was installed by President Jokowi on Friday after receiving unanimous endorsement from the House, would help the government improve its performance in the sector.
"There had been some uncertainties within the police force after months without a definitive leadership. The instalment of the new police chief will encourage officers to focus on their duties, including cracking down on rampant criminal activities, like human trafficking or violent motorcycle thefts committed by begal [muggers]," he said.