Indonesia’s Yudhoyono and Party Top Opinion Poll
INDONESIA’S President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Democrat Party topped an opinion poll published on Sunday, January 04, 2009, showing strong public support for his economic and anti-graft policies ahead of elections this year.
Indonesia is due to hold parliamentary elections on April 9, and presidential elections soon after, with the economy, jobs, poverty alleviation, corruption, health and education ranking among the key issues for voters amid a global economic slowdown.
The poll, conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), a private pollster, found that 43 percent of respondents would choose Yudhoyono, often known by his initials SBY, as president, against 19 percent for former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is considered his main rival.
“For the time being, there’s no competitor for him,” said Saiful Mujani, executive director of LSI.
“Even though people know Megawati, they would think twice” about voting for her, he added.
Yudhoyono’s policies are generally popular, especially the fact he cut subsidised fuel prices twice in December and is expected to cut them again soon, Mujani said.
“The main issue is the economy. If the impact of the global economic crisis on Indonesia is really felt, then perceptions about SBY’s performance would be worse.”
Of those polled, 15 percent said they were undecided. Other presidential hopefuls got less than 10 percent in the poll, with the Sultan of Yogyakarta and Prabowo Subianto, a general with close ties to former President Suharto, getting 5 percent each.
Former military strongman Wiranto got 3 percent, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla 2 percent. Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party has the support of 23 percent of those polled, putting it well ahead of the two main political parties, Megawati’s PDI-P and former President Suharto’s Golkar, with 17.1 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.
Islamist parties scored less than 5 percent, with the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) getting 4.8 percent and 4 percent respectively. One fifth of those polled were undecided.
Indonesia introduced new election rules last year, which state that in order to field a presidential candidate, a political party or bloc of parties must win a quarter of the votes in the parliamentary elections, or one fifth of the seats.
The latest poll suggests that Yudhoyono may not need to rely on any political allies to run for a second term.
Yudhoyono, a reformist ex-general, was Indonesia’s first directly elected president. He won on promises to curb graft, boost economic growth and create jobs in a country of 226 million people where millions are jobless, under-employed, and living on less than $2 a day.
While corruption remains a constant problem in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, some progress has been made.
Indonesia’s corruption eradication agency, known as KPK, has taken on ministers, central bankers, prosecutors and local government officials, and several high-ranking officials have been imprisoned for corruption.
Indonesia has also had its strongest economic performance in years, thanks partly to a commodity boom. The economy expanded 6.3 percent in 2007, the fastest pace in more than a decade, and grew 6.2 percent in 2008, the finance ministry said last week.
But the government has already warned that growth will slow this year (2009) to between 4.5 and 5 percent, amid a global crisis, and has promised stimulus measures to boost the economy and protect jobs. (Reuters)