The Jakarta Post
It appears that Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo is so popular that even politicians from other political parties think they should feature his image in their campaigns.
Erizal Effendi, a legislative candidate from the National Democrat (NasDem) Party running in the electoral district of West Sumatra, put a picture of Jokowi, along with party chairman Surya Paloh, in his campaign billboards located along the street connecting Padang and Bukittinggi. The local media reported that the two billboards also displayed the party's symbol and slogan: the movement for change and a new Indonesia.
Nasdem executive Patrice Rio Capella said it was impossible for his party to instruct its members to display Jokowi's image, but added that what Erizal did was still justified. 'In an election system with a majority vote, many legislative candidates are becoming more creative in order to draw the attention of the constituents. [Using Jokowi's picture] is one example. That's what we call political marketing.' he added.
The party, he said, would not take the incident too seriously as Jokowi was neither a legislative candidate nor a presidential nominee from the PDI-P.
Head of PDI-P's West Sumatra chapter Alek Indra Lukman said it was inappropriate for NasDem to exploit Jokowi's popularity in its campaign. 'Where is our political ethics? We have filed complaints with the NasDem Party's West Sumatra chapter and demanded the billboards be taken down,' he said as quoted by tempo.co.
Political analyst Arie Sudjito of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University said the incident showed that many parties were lacking confidence, inspirational figures and ideas to lure voters.
'They have become desperately pragmatic and are giving the voters want, like Jokowi,' he said on Saturday. 'It proves that many parties have failed to build long-term party systems. They are generally myopic,' he added.
He lambasted the parties for failing to provide political education to the public. 'Politics is not all about winning elections or competing for access to power; each political party has the obligation to provide smart political education.'
Another political analyst, Gun Gun Heryanto, slammed the politicians for having an inferior attitude. 'They have an inferiority complex as they have used a figure from a different party in their campaign. I don't see the logic here,' he said.
Jokowi is arguably the most popular Indonesian politician today, with local and foreign observers touting him as the best candidate to replace President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In less than a year after being elected Jakarta governor, Jokowi has won the hearts of many Indonesians who expect him to run in the presidential race despite his pledge to finish his job as Jakarta Governor.
In recent months, Jokowi has topped a number of public opinion polls, even though his party has yet to officially nominate him. The party is expected to garner more than 15 percent of the popular vote in the legislative election and will have the chance to field its own presidential candidate.
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