As a developing country with about 270 million people, the economy remains crucial in the upcoming elections.
“The top three concerns of the voters will remain the same, which are (eradicating) poverty, job opportunity, and inflation,” said Mr Kevin O’Rourke, an analyst with Jakarta-based political risk consulting firm Reformasi Information Services.
Indonesia was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with its economy contracting 2.07 per cent that year.
But it rebounded in 2021 as it grew 3.69 per cent. Last year, it even recorded a growth of 5.31 per cent, the highest in almost a decade.
However, as of March this year, there are still about 26 million poor people in Indonesia, a country of about 270 million people. This is equal to a poverty rate of about 9 per cent.
In recent weeks, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy has seen an increase in the price of rice amid harvest failure due to the current prolonged dry weather.
Jokowi, as Mr Widodo is popularly known, has been checking markets across Indonesia to ensure enough rice supply to keep the prices down.
An increase in rice prices is a recipe for higher inflation. Last year, the inflation rate was 5.51 per cent. It was just 1.87 per cent in 2021.
This year’s inflation is expected to be around 3 per cent, but it may be higher if the rice price situation does not improve.
A popular staple food, the price of rice and other cost of living will certainly be people’s main concern when they head to the polls next year.
According to the election commission, about 204.8 million Indonesians will be eligible to vote, making the next elections the world’s biggest single-day election.
More than half of the eligible voters are young voters.
Thus, tackling unemployment will likely be an issue candidates will discuss during campaigning.
“When you talk to young voters, they will definitely ask about the chances of getting employed or even landing a job as a freelancer,” said Mr Aditya Perdana, a political analyst from the University of Indonesia.
Indonesia’s unemployment rate last year was about 5.86 per cent, while this year’s rate is predicted to be around 5 to 5.7 per cent. Jokowi predicted similar figures for next year.