Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Ma’ruf Amin are relying on infrastructure development to reap votes in the 2019 Presidential Election (Pilpres). Towards the end of his administration, President Jokowi ordered his government officials to speed up the completion of a number of infrastructure projects before the next year’s elections. He admitted that this is one of his campaign strategies to be re-elected as president for the term of 2019-2024.
Although joking when giving the statement, Jokowi openly stated that Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr) and the elections were the reasons to accelerate the construction of infrastructure. At first, he talked about the contractor’s target to complete the Trans-Sumatra toll road, particularly Bakauheni-Palembang section which could only be realized in May or June. Jokowi then said that he has ordered its completion to be accelerated in April 2019.
“Why April? You know?” Jokowi said last week when speaking in the 2018 Bank Indonesia annual meeting at the JCC, Senayan, Jakarta. The audience welcomed his statement with laughter. “You probably have different thoughts. Let me openly say that this is done so we can use it during Lebaran, and the elections as well.”
In addition, the construction of the Jakarta - Surabaya toll road is also accelerated so it can connect to others before mid-next year. Jokowi also said that infrastructure for other transportation, such as ports, would soon be completed. He promised to complete the Kuala Tanjung Port and Makassar New Port in the next two months.
Based on katadata.co.id research data, there are several other projects that could be used as ammunition for Jokowi to win votes in the presidential election in April 2019. In addition to the toll road infrastructure mentioned above, there are also Manado - Bitung IIA section and Jakarta - Cikampek, which are targeted to be completed in March 2019. The MRT Jakarta project is also ordered to be completed by March 2019.
Another railway infrastructure project is Adi Soemarmo Airport Train, which will be completed in April, close to the presidential election schedule. It is the same with LRT Jakarta project, which is targeted to start operating in February 2019. The entire project is included in the appendix of Presidential Regulation No. 56/2018 on National Strategic Projects.
Jokowi was praised by his rival, Sandiaga Uno, regarding his statement that the completion of the infrastructure project is related to the 2019 Presidential Election. Besides appreciating the honesty of the former Jakarta Governor, Sandiaga said the statement was a luxury owned by the incumbent. “They can show off their achievements. I think it is a fair thing.”
Unlike Sandi, the Gerindra Party Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon made harsh criticism. According to him, Jokowi should not claim the success of infrastructure development and deceive the public in his campaign. The reason is that the provision of infrastructure is the government’s obligation. “He wants to make this look like an achievement from the current government,” Fadli said.
Meanwhile, the palace considered it legitimate for Jokowi to do so. Moreover, Jokowi - JK in the four years of their administration did focus on developing large infrastructure projects. If Jokowi wins again, the development of Human Resources (HR) will be the focus of his next work. “The incumbent does have to reveal what he has accomplished. It is very legitimate, even necessary,” Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said.
The campaign strategy by demonstrating the success of infrastructure development is indeed quite effective. A survey conducted by Media Survei Nasional at the end of November showed the number of votes for Jokowi was still higher than his rival, Prabowo Subianto. Based on the survey that polled 1,200 people, infrastructure development was considered the main success of the Jokowi government.