The rise of Joko Widodo in Indonesian politics

The rise of Joko Widodo in Indonesian politics
Mr Joko Widodo.

INDONESIA - C'mon, who is Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Sukarnoputri trying to kid?

Here we are all waiting around to see if she will step aside for wildly popular Jakarta governor Joko Widodo to run in next year's presidential election when it appears as obvious as the nose on your face that she will.

Any thought she may have entertained of using him as her running mate to make a third attempt at winning back the presidency surely disappeared with the results of a recent poll conducted by the leading Kompas newspaper.

That has Mr Widodo's popularity as a prospective presidential candidate stretching out to 32.5 per cent, from 17.7 per cent only six months ago - four percentage points higher than any previous survey. Ms Megawati's fortunes, by comparison, declined from 9.3 per cent to 8 per cent.

Nestled in between them is Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) patron Prabowo Subianto, the clear front-runner before Mr Widodo came on the scene, who edges up from 13.3 per cent to 15.1 per cent in the Kompas poll.

Ms Megawati has often talked about grooming a new generation of leadership. But rhetoric aside, PDI-P's own polling shows that she would lose against Mr Prabowo - even with Mr Widodo as her running mate.

When she ran with Mr Prabowo in 2009, many of the PDI-P voters I talked to in Central Java thought if the retired general was the candidate, incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would have been in for a much closer race.

Ms Megawati obviously likes Mr Widodo - and that's important for someone who harbours grudges and expects loyalty from everyone in a party whose processes are hardly democratic. She, after all, calls the shots.

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