Indonesia Election 2014: Jokowi's electoral fate lies in V-P pick

Indonesia Election 2014: Jokowi's electoral fate lies in V-P pick

Two questions remain unanswered in the minds of most Indonesians as the presidential election approaches.

The first question relates to the identity of Mr Joko Widodo's vice-presidential running mate.

The second question is whether a strong rival will emerge to challenge Mr Joko in the presidential race.

The two questions are related, of course. Both are also reciprocal. Indeed, it is possible to answer the latter by considering the first one carefully.

I strongly believe that whether or not Mr Joko wins the 2014 presidential election will be determined by the choice of his running mate.

Mr Joko has indeed been the strongest candidate. But no one can guarantee that there will not be tough competition ahead.

It would be difficult to campaign for Mr Joko if he isn't paired with a politically strong candidate.

In such a situation, Mr Joko could be tragically beaten in a tight race.

In this regard, I believe that Muslim and East Indonesian voters will be the determining factors.

Who would be the right man? What criteria should be considered? Is the traditional dichotomy between civilian and military figures or Javanese and non-Javanese pairing still relevant?

According to PolMark Indonesia's surveys, the pairing of a civilian and military figure, or the need for Javanese to be linked with a non-Javanese is no longer relevant.

Less than 25 per cent of voters take such factors into consideration. It would also be unwise to apply such a dichotomy in determining the best partner for Mr Joko.

Two other factors, however, are important: namely representation and function.

Mr Joko will have difficulty winning in the so-called battleground provinces where his electability level is still under 20 per cent. Most provinces in East Indonesia fall into this category.

Hence, in order to win here, Mr Joko should consider a figure who is very well accepted by voters in these provinces.

According to PolMark's research, 71 per cent of Mr Joko's supporters live on the most densely populated island of Java.

Only 29 per cent are outer Java inhabitants.

In terms of regions, the number of Mr Joko's supporters in eastern Indonesian provinces is far fewer than in the western parts of the archipelago.

Another issue to be considered is the potential resistance of Muslim voters towards his party, The Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDI-P) and its leader Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The PDI-P, Ms Megawati and even Mr Joko have often been perceived as "unfriendly" towards Muslim communities.

The PDI-P established the Baitul Muslimin organisation in order to gain more support from Muslim voters.

But apparently that has not been considered adequate.

Therefore, Mr Joko should look for a vice-presidential candidate who is not only very well accepted by the Muslim community but regarded as an iconic figure.

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