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Jakarta Post

Election debate can influence swing voters, CSIS analyst says

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, January 15, 2019   /   06:31 pm
Election debate can influence swing voters, CSIS analyst says Clean campaign: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) and his challenger in this year’s presidential election, Prabowo Subianto, walk hand-in-hand during an event held in Jakarta on Sept. 23, 2018, in which they vowed to combat hoaxes and ethnic, religious, racial and ideological sentiments during the campaign period. (The Jakarta Post/Wendra Ajistyatama )

The presidential election debate can influence undecided voters, but it is unlikely to change the minds of those who have thrown support behind Joko "Jokowi" Widodo or Prabowo Subianto, an analyst with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) suggests.

As the camps of the two presidential candidates gear up for the upcoming first debate, CSIS political analyst Arya Fernandes said that the debates may not significantly change the stance of most voters who have decided on their choice in the 2019 elections.

"I believe that election debates can influence new and undecided voters in particular. However, debates mean nothing for loyal voters of certain candidates. For them, it is only a [TV] program to watch," Arya told journalists in Jakarta on Tuesday.

A recent survey by Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia revealed that of the 192 million eligible voters set to cast their votes on April 17, at least 25 percent were undecided or swing voters.

The Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin and rival Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno tickets have admitted that the debate would be critical for them to attract swing voters, which many have said are the segment of voters who will decide the outcome of the election.

Arya said the candidates’ performance during the presidential debate would be the key to winning the hearts of undecided voters, meaning that they have to articulate their ideas with the right delivery and provide substantial information on their programs.

"If a candidate can excel in these two areas, I suppose the debate will be able to influence voters," he said.

Indikator's latest survey put Jokowi-Ma'ruf's electability at 54.9 percent, while Prabowo-Sandiaga trailed behind with 34.8 percent. The pollster involved 1,220 respondents in the survey, which was carried out from Dec. 16 to 26, 2018.

The first election debate, slated for Thursday in Jakarta, will focus on law, human rights, corruption and terrorism. (swd)