Jokowi's popularity drops over fuel price hikes in Indonesia

INDONESIA'S President Joko Widodo's popularity took a hit after his decision to increase fuel prices raised public discontentment over surging living costs, according to the latest opinion poll.

His approval rating fell by 10 percentage points to 62.6 per cent from 72.3 per cent in August, based on Indikator Politik's survey of 1,200 people conducted Sep 5-10. That's his lowest rating since May, according to the pollster, when there were similar concerns over soaring prices of cooking oil and other basic food items.

The lower rating for the president, better known as Jokowi, signals continuing anger over the government's move to impose higher fuel prices on Sep 3, which triggered protests led by thousands of workers and university students. Jokowi has defended the fuel hike as the "last option" available for cutting energy subsidy bills, even if Indonesians are already dealing with the worst inflation in 7 years.

Public dissatisfaction over the price hike could intensify opposition to calls by some in the political elite to extend his presidency, which is in the second and final term. Some of Jokowi's supporters have backed the idea of amending the constitution to allow for an extension. BLOOMBERG

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