Jokowi 'very confident' of winning next week

Jokowi 'very confident' of winning next week

Presidential candidate Joko Widodo said he is "very confident" of winning next Wednesday's election, judging by the strength of support he continues to receive.

This is despite results of several opinion polls which showed that his lead over his rival Prabowo Subianto has narrowed sharply in the last two months.

"Surveys don't show everything," he said yesterday, adding that the spontaneous enthusiasm he gets on the campaign trail shows the tide is still in his favour.

Neither is he rattled by the Democratic Party's endorsement of his rival this week, a development his team said was long expected and may not help much, given the spate of graft scandals that has tarred President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's party.

"I'm a good guy, I don't have any baggage from the past," Mr Joko, the Jakarta governor, told reporters.

Mr Joko's campaign spokesman, Dr Anies Baswedan, referring to the Democratic Party's move, said: "They have not taken sides for too long. The party move will no longer have much impact on voters."

But Mr Joko and his running mate, former vice-president Jusuf Kalla, are racing against time to cling on to the lead they have lost over Mr Prabowo and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, and hopefully widen it in the coming days.

Mr Prabowo, a former special forces general who was discharged from the military over his role in abducting activists amid the political turmoil in 1998, continues to be criticised for not coming clean about his involvement in human rights abuses. Mr Hatta, the former coordinating economics minister who stepped down to contest the polls, has been criticised for uneven economic development in recent years.

But over the past month, they have run a tight campaign that has managed to paint them, and their broad coalition, as the ticket that will save Indonesia.

Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, is fighting back. Yesterday, he broke fast with over 1,000 residents at an Islamic boarding school in Cilegon in Banten province. Today and tomorrow, he will traverse staunchly devout parts of West Java province to try and win more votes. Recent polls show that Mr Joko's lead has thinned to between 3 and 7 percentage points.

The Indonesian Survey Circle found late last month that he enjoyed a 6 percentage point lead in Banten but was trailing behind Mr Prabowo by over 8 percentage points in West Java.

Asked about the gains Mr Prabowo has made in opinion polls, Mr Joko said part of the reason is the smear campaigns against him, which have painted him as Christian, Chinese and a stooge, and which he will continue to rebut strongly in the remaining days. "When I go to the people, I explain the issues at stake," he said. "The people know."

His campaign team is also getting its volunteers, social media efforts and the machinery of the parties that back him working fully as the campaign enters its final stretch, he added.

Yesterday, Mr Joko distributed T-shirts and told residents in Banten to help knock on their neighbours' doors and get them to vote for him, and also to help rebut the smears.

But Mr Tjahjo Kumolo, the secretary-general of Mr Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDI-P), told The Straits Times that West Java would be a tough fight as local leaders and neighbourhood heads have been instructed to mobilise support for Mr Prabowo.

Mr Joko also warned supporters of attempts to cheat at the polls and urged them to monitor the vote counting process.

zakirh@sph.com.sg

wahyudis@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 02, 2014.
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