JAKARTA – Indonesia President Joko Widodo’s approval rating fell in April by nearly 12 percentage points from February’s 71.7%, an independent pollster said on Tuesday, as rising costs and soaring cooking oil prices dented his popularity.
Jokowi, as the president is commonly known, had the approval of 59.9% of the 1,200 people surveyed by Indikator Politik Indonesia, down sharply from the record high 75.3% in January.
The April 14-19 poll came after months of high domestic cooking oil prices that government measures have failed to tame, including on-off moves to restrict exports of palm oil, of which Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer.
It was conducted a week before Jokowi’s shock announcement on Friday of a ban on exports of cooking oil and its raw material, which saw global edible oil prices surge amid a wider supply crunch.
The survey showed that 66% of respondents had favoured banning cooking oil exports to ensure domestic supplies.
Indikator director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said rising goods costs were one of the primary reasons why respondents were dissatisfied with Jokowi.
“If (the government) wants to create a positive trend on approval ratings of President Jokowi, perform breakthroughs on these fronts: corruption eradication … and the inflation-laden national economy, especially on cooking oil scarcity,” he said.
Burhanuddin also said more than 85% of those surveyed believed a “cooking oil mafia” was to blame for rising prices.
The survey was prior to last week’s announcement of a corruption probe into the issuance of Indonesian palm oil permits.
The presidential palace referred a Reuters request for comment on the poll to the State Secretary, who did not immediately respond. It was not clear if the poll had any bearing on the recent policy decisions.