Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has continued to strengthen his electoral position in Java, while Gerindra, the party of Jokowi's main rival Prabowo Subianto, has also gained ground, boosting its chances of becoming the country's second-largest party behind Jokowi's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), a new poll reveals.
Java, which is divided into four provinces, is Indonesia's most populous island with around 160 million people, accounting for 70 percent of the total population and around 60 percent of potential voters in the upcoming general election.
Jakarta-based pollster Charta Politika recently surveyed 800 people in Banten and 1,200 people each in West Java, Central Java and East Java, asking them which presidential candidate and political party they would vote for in 2019.
As in other polls, Jokowi and Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto are the frontrunners, while the PDI-P remains the dominant party, with Gerindra pushing for second place.
In 2014, Jokowi won both Central Java and East Java by more than 6 percentage points but lost by landslides in Banten and West Java, with Prabowo gaining almost 60 percent of the vote in both provinces.
According to the survey, Jokowi has turned the tables in West Java, with 46.1 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him, compared to 40.5 percent backing Prabowo.
On the other hand, Prabowo seems to have maintained his stranglehold over Banten, with an electability rating of 44.1 percent compared to Jokowi's 36.9 percent. Prabowo's popularity in the province has also produced a "coattail effect" for Gerindra's electability, according to Charta Politika's executive director Yunarto Wijaya.
Around 20.6 percent of respondents in Banten said they would vote for Gerindra, comfortably beating the Golkar Party at 15 percent and the PDI-P at 14.4 percent and improving on their 2014 performance of 14 percent of the vote in the province.
"Prabowo's increased political capital from his two previous presidential bids has strengthened the coattail effect for his party," Yunarto said at the survey release event on Wednesday.
In Central Java and East Java, however, Jokowi and the PDI-P maintain their strong positions. More than two-thirds of respondents in Central Java said they would vote for Jokowi, compared to Prabowo's meager 11.2 percent, echoing the results of the 2014 election.
In East Java, Jokowi had the support of 53.4 percent of respondents, compared to 33.6 percent for Prabowo, while the PDI-P had an electability rating of 20.3 percent, slightly higher than its 2014 vote count.
The results reflect those of a nationwide Charta Politika survey from April, in which 2,000 people were polled across all 34 provinces.
In that poll, Jokowi had a formidable electability rating of 58.8 percent, far ahead of Prabowo's 30 percent. Despite his lackluster electability, Prabowo's nationwide presence has helped propel Gerindra to second place behind the PDI-P with 12.3 percent, overtaking Golkar.
Nearly 40 percent of respondents who said they would vote for Gerindra named Prabowo as the main reason for their support. A recent survey from pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia showed similar results, with both Jokowi and Gerindra's electability showing an upward trend.
"Since Jokowi is only behind in Banten, it's safe to say that he remains dominant in Java, which is reflected in several national surveys," Yunarto said. "Overall, Jokowi has improved his lead compared to 2014."
He added that Jokowi still had some work to do in Sumatra, where he was weak in several provinces, but that Java seemed solidly in his column. "Prabowo, on the other hand, has failed to retain West Java, which was the source of much of his support in 2014," he said.