Jakarta. An analyst attributed the significant vote increase for the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) to party founder and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s openness to the media.
Agung Suprio, a political expert, said on Thursday that Gerindra’s success at the polls, where it garnered 12 percent of votes, according to quick counts, from 4.5 percent in 2009, was influenced by the former Army general presenting himself successfully in various forums and being accessible to the media, both conventional, such as print, and online.
“Prabowo appears to come across as more media-friendly than in previous years,” he said. “Not only that, Prabowo’s accounts on social media like Twitter and Facebook, where he can convey his ideas without time restrictions, are followed and liked by millions.”
Agung said that the negative publicity against Gerindra by political rivals ahead of the election had proved to be ineffective.
“It’s true that there was a lot of negativity directed toward Prabowo, in part because of alleged involvement in human rights abuses,” he said. “But Gerindra had a very slick, polished media team that was able to respond well to the negativity.”
In fact, Agung added, the attacks against Prabowo seemed to have had the reverse effect, with his position and support base strengthening and his opponents taking a hit at the polls.
“It was Prabowo who gained all the sympathy and those who persisted in the negative comments lost votes,” Agung said. ”For that, credit must be given to Gerindra’s team. This is because the media team were able to field the smear campaigns and even responded in kind at times.”
He added that Gerindra’s PR team had worked tirelessly at getting the party’s message out to the voters by publicizing the party leader’s statements and campaign activities.
One message that seems to have resonated with voters was Prabowo’s suggestion that he would support the fight against corruption and that he would strengthen the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), empower village economies and promote Gerindra as a party of change — territory that the National Democrat Party (NasDem) hoped to make its own with its slogan “Movement for Change.”
“It’s proven that Gerindra benefited from those who left the Democratic Party and other parties,” Agung said.
He added that Gerindra’s political machine was working optimally and productively to boost Prabowo’s and Gerindra’s electability in the regions and it was also able to effectively convey all of Prabowo’s messages to the constituents.
Arya Fernandes, an analyst from Charta Politika, said that Wednesday’s quick count results, yet to be officially confirmed, showed the Gerindra message resonated with the voters and that the party had been very effective in encouraging supporters to get out and vote.
Arya said that a candidate’s experience, energy and party credentials played bigger roles as the determining factors than the individual’s personality.
He added that the effect of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Joko Widodo’s popularity had not been as significant as many analysts and experts had predicted, suggesting many of his supporters had their eye on more local candidates from other parties for the legislative election. The Jakarta Globe