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Volunteers a key factor in fight for swing voters

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THEJAKARTAPOST – Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Ikrar Nusa Bhakti is a well-known name in the field of political analysis, but he looked like a stranger when sitting alongside dozens of retired military generals at the Jenggala Center in Jakarta last Wednesday.

At the center, which is a support base of presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate Jusuf Kalla, the retired generals declared their support for the pair, who are backed by a coalition led by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Among them were former Army chief of staff Gen. (ret.) Tyasno Sudarto, former Navy chief of staff Adm. (ret.) Bernard Ken Sondakh, former Army deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Sumarsono and former Air Force academy governor Vice Marshal (ret.) Muhammad Basri Sidehabi.
As questions lingered over what Ikrar had to do with the declaration, more academics appeared at the venue. They included management and marketing professor Rhenald Kasali, public policy expert Andrinof Chaniago and politics lecturer Eep Saefulloh Fatah, as well as diplomacy analyst from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Rizal Sukma. It was then revealed that they had an appointment with Kalla, who attended the declaration.
“We’re invited here to give input to Kalla to help him address numerous issues that may emerge ahead of the July 9 presidential election,” Ikrar told The Jakarta Post.
The retired generals are among hundreds of groups that have declared their support for Jokowi-Kalla.
“So far, we have 112 groups of volunteers registered with us,” PDI-P executive Eriko Sotarduga, who is in charge of the management of “volunteer” support, said on Friday.
At the camp of rival candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, who are backed by a coalition led by the Gerindra Party, the number of volunteer groups reached 250 as of Friday.
“At Polonia House alone, there are about 20 volunteer groups declaring their support every day,” Didit, a member of the Prabowo-Hatta campaign team tasked with organizing volunteers, said while referring to a historic house in East Jakarta that serves as the center of the pair’s campaign team.
Declarations of support from volunteer groups have been common lately. One of the largest groups is the Volunteers for Indonesia (ReDI) founded by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan. About 8,000 of its members flocked to the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, to attend a lavish declaration of support for Jokowi-Kalla on Saturday.
Dahlan was the winner of the Democratic Party’s presidential convention. The party, however, did not name him a presidential candidate and instead opted for neutrality in the July 9 presidential election.
Most of the volunteer groups represented specific communities, ranging from street vendors, bus drivers, housewives and students, to academics, entrepreneurs and retired military or police officers. Several were even formed overseas.
On Sunday, for example, dozens of housewives grouped under the Jakarta Forum for Majelis Taklim (Islamic study group) Housewives declared their support for Prabowo-Hatta at Polonia House.
Many of them offer unique ways of campaigning and fund-raising.
The People’s Struggle Post (Pospera), for example, mobilizes bus and public minivan drivers, as well as street vendors who support Jokowi. “They play music, read poems and distribute stickers to passengers to help spread good news about Jokowi,” Pospera coordinator Mustar Bona Ventura Manurung said.
He claimed most of the funds used for the movement came from selling the campaign material of Jokowi-Kalla, such as banners, T-shirts, stickers and key chains.
Volunteer groups also include those involved in online campaigning. One of them is the Jokowi Advanced Social Media Volunteers 2014 (JASMEV2014), which claims to group more than 4,000 Internet users together supporting Jokowi-Kalla.
This group is a reincarnation of the Jokowi-Ahok Social Media Volunteers (JASMEV), which launched the online campaign of Jokowi and his running mate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Volunteers are apparently being used by political parties to improve campaigning, particularly in winning the support of swing voters who might be apathetic toward the promises offered by political parties.
Political researcher from the Pol-Tracking Institute, Hanta Yuda, said the volunteers could complement political parties. “Volunteers are usually more militant and widespread, they are fanatical in their support for certain figures,” he said. “However, if they are not organized well, the outcome might not be optimal.”
Election organizers have expressed concern over the establishment of such volunteer groups.
“We ask the teams of both candidates to register the groups with us as an official part of their campaign teams. This is to help us organize and monitor their activities, particularly during the campaign period that will begin in two weeks,” General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay said over the weekend

Volunteer Front for Jokowi for President (Bara JP)
Bara JP was established during the World Jokowi Volunteers Congress in Bandung, West Java, in June 2013. It now has branches in almost all regencies and municipalities in 34 provinces, as well as 67 countries. Its first major activity was to collect 4 million signatures in a petition for the PDI-P to nominate Jokowi as its presidential candidate.
Seknas Jokowi
Seknas Jokowi claims to have more than 2,000 members in 30 provinces. It was founded by dozens of 1980s activists in December last year. It has several wing organizations, such as Seknas Pro-TKI, which targets support from 6 million migrant workers, and Seknas Muda, which comprises Indonesian students overseas.
Projo (Pro Jokowi)
Key members of Projo are dominated by PDI-P youth members who struggled along with chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri in 1998. Established in December last year, Projo claims to have networks in 497 regencies and municipalities. Like Bara JP, Projo was also at the forefront of pushing Megawati to nominate Jokowi as the PDI-P’s presidential candidate.
Pospera has branches in 16 provinces. In Jakarta alone, it has mobilized 2,000 volunteers from various backgrounds.
National Volunteers Network for the Alliance of Students and Youths (Aswaja)
Supported by former National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Sutrisno Bachir, Aswaja has representatives in six provinces.
Freedom People Movement (ARM) 
Founded by former head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), Jumhur Hidayat, ARM claims to gather several labor unions that consist of millions of members. Among the unions are the Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Gaspermindo), the National Workers Union (SPN) and the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI).
Kawan Jokowi (Coalition of Youths and Volunteers for Jokowi)
Its founder is Diaz Hendropriyono, the son of former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) head AM Hendropriyono, who is also a member of the Jokowi-Kalla campaign team. Established on May 13, it groups dozens of communities of Jokowi supporters and has chapters in 22 provinces.
Businesspeople’s Community for Jokowi-Kalla
Among of the founders is construction and telecommunication businessman Halim Kalla, who is Jusuf Kalla’s brother. Its members are hundreds of entrepreneurs in various sectors, across 34 provinces as well as more than 300 regencies and municipalities.
House of Indonesia’s Awakening Volunteers
It comprises volunteers of Jokowi-Ahok in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election and has branches in 32 provinces.
Youth Movement for Prabowo-Hatta (Gema)
Gema is a fusion of youth organizations affiliated with political parties that support the Gerindra-led coalition. Several musicians, actors and actresses have joined the movement, such as Anang Hermansyah, Dwiki Dharmawan, Mulan Jameela, Rachel Maryam and Ahmad Dhani.
Great Nusantara Volunteers
Led by seasoned Golkar Party politician Marwah Daud Ibrahim, it consists of female volunteers. Marwah says the movement is targeting winning 20 million votes.
Fatherland Wing Volunteers
It houses hundreds of retired military personnel and their family members. Its chairman is former Prabowo aide Maj. Gen. (ret.) Kivlan Zen, who is now a politician with the United Development Party (PPP).
Indonesia House
It claims to house about 10 million workers grouped under the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Unions (KSPI). It has chapters in 24 provinces, according to KSPI chairman Said Iqbal.
Geber Prabowo
Its members are activists, workers and farmers. It controls 211 micro-sector communities in 67 regencies and municipalities in 24 provinces. Its registered members reach 2,000 people nationwide.
Rajawali was formerly a volunteer group that supported the Democratic Party’s ticket of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono in the 2009 presidential race. Its 37,000 members in 29 provinces are claimed to support Prabowo-Hatta in this year’s election.
Rajasa (Hatta Rajasa Volunteers)
It claims to have thousands of Hatta supporters. Its executives are young PAN politicians, such as Zulkifli Hasan, Bima Arya and Desy Ratnasari.

Source :the jakarta post, 1 Juni 2014

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