Nursandy Syam 
Strategy Manager and Operations of the Indonesian Voice Network (JSI)

"How ready is a challenger to fight the incumbent in the middle of a pandemic?"

Questions like this, most certainly come from the mind of a challenger.

The matter really needs to be responded to. Even applies mandatory for a challenger status. Because he must know exactly how strengths and weaknesses he has before entering into the real battlefield.

That becomes important as the initial step to compile and determine various steps in entering into the contestation. If the matter is not yet fully addressed, it can be very disturbing for a challenger's journey in pioneering the victory route.

The challenger must know that most incumbents are in perpetual campaign mode. After winning the competition, they began to re-plan and socialize for the next election.

That situation, made the incumbent electoral position superior to the challenger. Moreover, during the pandemic, various leadership roles of a incumbent increasingly received widespread attention from the voting community in their area.

"Petahana"  has the discretion to carry out various policies with the jargon "Opposite Covid-19". Even the electoral stability is relatively stable if various policies are seen to cheer up the hearts of its people.

Then in the middle of incumbent empowerment, what kind of attitude and steps should be taken by the challenger? It is impossible to remain silent and not just be a spectator.

It could be unfortunate, if many challengers take too long to wait for the wait to begin their electoral work. Is a fatal mistake, if in the midst of a corona virus outbreak, the challenger seems helpless and does nothing in front of the voting community.

Giving up is indeed a choice, but it is a mistake if such an attitude is present when the challenger has not exerted his best abilities.

Deign or not, the challenger must try to balance the incumbent's movement with his various policies regarding the handling of the corona virus. Despite the limitations though.

As a challenger, he should be present in the minds and hearts of voters with a better figure than his competitors.

Show the voting community why it is different, clearly different, and why that difference makes it a superior choice.

In general, conquering incumbent is possible with all the proper preparation, accurate strategy and of course hard work.

Movement should be more intense. Therefore, the challenger's electoral position may still lag behind even far behind the incumbent. Whether we realize it or not, the elections in the middle of a pandemic or the cool term "New Normal Election" have many restrictions on their movement.

This situation becomes an unpredictable new obstacle for a challenger who wants to increase his popularity and electability trends.

Therefore, the challenger must be more active and creative in campaigning in the midst of these changes. Do not make the limited spaces as high walls that cannot be passed. Because actually, a challenger has great guts and a tough fighting mentality.

Arrange the steps and rhythm in the contestation. Show the voter that there are striking differences between you and your opponents on the problem you specify.

Tell them why you are a stronger candidate. Smart to use narration in conveying messages to the voting community. Pack your campaign messages in an attractive manner.

Content is a king. Campaigns are content battles. The methods and approaches of the campaigns of some contestants in a competition may be the same. But there is one thing that can make a difference, namely content. What is the content of the campaign message to be conveyed.

An interesting content can create a big influence. If relevant and consistently done continuously.

In addition, a challenger must be keen to see the weaknesses of competitors. Because there, there are open blemishes that can be used to pull down the opponent's electability.

No need to always wait for the momentum to then move. Because, momentum can be created.

Time went on, the election day had a few more months. Make steps as often as possible to greet voters while still paying attention to health protocols.

Because, only challengers who are really serious and ready have the chance to win the fight.

Don't be afraid or afraid. The history of direct elections in Indonesia has confirmed that not a few incumbents suffered defeat. As long as the final whistle hasn't sounded, chances of winning are still open.

Is not part of the success of a challenger occurs hockey states and incumbent slip in the middle of the road. Impossible mission can be possible. These events can happen to you.

So, there are many reasons and ways to win, and thus lose. (***)