Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is steaming toward the end of his term in office next year, with his approval rating hitting an all-time high this month, a local pollster said yesterday.
Figures released by the polling organization Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) yesterday showed that public satisfaction with Jokowi sat at 76.2 percent at the start of 2023, more than 13 points higher than in September. Of these, 18.7 percent of respondents said they were very satisfied with the president’s performance, and 57.5 percent who said they were quite satisfied.
Meanwhile, just 14.8 percent of respondents said they were not satisfied with Jokowi’s performance and 5.7 percent said they were very dissatisfied. The remaining 3.3 percent did not answer or said they did not know.
“In the last three months, the President’s performance has increased in positive public perception from 62.6 percent in September 2022 to now 76.2 percent. If we look at the last three months, the increase is quite significant,” LSI executive director Djayadi Hanan told reporters, according to a report by the news magazine Tempo.
In a separate interview with Reuters, Hanan put the jump in Jokowi’s approval down to the government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions last month, despite the continuing economic headwinds. “I think this was mostly because of the lifting of social restrictions and a decrease in fuel prices,” he said. “The narrative that the economy will be very difficult, particularly in 2023, has been there since the beginning of last year.”
The LSI poll, conducted during January 7-11 and covering more than 1,200 respondents, recorded the pollster’s highest approval rating for Jokowi since he first took office in 2014. His second and last term in office will end with elections in February 2024.
This is nothing short of remarkable for a leader who has been in office for nearly nine years and has recently undertaken a number of policies that have proven controversial. Most recently, these have included the passage of a contentious new criminal code and the issuing of an emergency regulation that replaced a highly controversial job creation law, which labor unions and civil society groups say will undermine workers’ rights and environmental protections. The passage of both laws was accompanied by large protests against Jokowi’s administration.
Indeed, the LSI results come after a year in which Jokowi’s approval ratings began to slump slightly, as the public grappled with the rising cost of a host of basic commodities, particularly cooking oil, amid the Russia-Ukraine war and the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures released by the pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia in May 2022 showed that satisfaction with the Indonesian leader had fallen to 58.1 percent, 12 percent lower than the previous January.
To be sure, this is still an approval rating that most Western politicians would kill for, and the fact that Jokowi’s approval appears to have “recovered” from even this dip reinforces his status as one of Asia’s most bulletproof politicians.
It also makes it clear why for a period last year so many officials in Jokowi’s administration were pushing to extend his tenure beyond the end of his second term, either by delaying the 2024 election or amending the Constitution to allow him to run for a third term. While Jokowi ultimately disavowed the idea, he is likely to leave a firm imprint on whatever administration prevails in next year’s election.