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Popular Indonesian politicians bottom out in new survey

Publication Date : 09-07-2012


None of the popular politicians touted as potential presidential candidates would win a majority of the vote if the presidential election were held today, a new survey has said.

The candidate that would fare best was Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto, who was backed by 10.6 per cent of respondents in a survey conducted by the Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting firm.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri was second, backed by 8 per cent of respondents, followed by Golkar Party chairman and businessman Aburizal "Ical" Bakrie, at 4.4 per cent.

"This indicates that we haven't yet seen a dominant political figure who can triumph in the election," Grace Natalie, the survey firm's chief, said.

Sixty per cent of respondents said that they remained undecided, according to the survey.

Natalie said that the current situation did not bode well for potential candidates, as there had always been a front runner at this point in the election cycle previously.

Two years before the 2009 presidential election, for example, incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was already backed by more than 20 per cent of respondents in several polls, Natalie said.

The situation was daunting, she added. "Even if we narrow things down to the three most popular names, Soekarnoputri, Ical and Subianto, none of them would gain more than 30 per cent of the vote."

The survey, which contacted 1,230 respondents in 33 provinces between June 20 and June 30, also said that most of the potential candidates remained popular with respondents, with the most prominent politicians liked by more than half of respondents.

Soekarnoputri, for instance, the most popular politician mentioned in the survey, received a positive rating from 68.2 per cent of the 93.7 per cent respondents who said they were familiar with her, or an overall positive rating from 63.9 per cent of respondents.

Subianto was the best known potential candidate, recognised by 78.8 per cent of the respondents, 79.7 per cent of who favoured him, for an overall positive rating from 62.7 per cent of respondents.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum received a positive rating from 30.4 per cent of the 55 per cent of respondents who were familiar with him, for a dismal overall positive rating from 16 per cent of respondents.

Despite an early declaration of his candidacy, Ical was the least popular among the most prominent potential candidates.

Of the 70.1 per cent of respondents who said they knew Ical, 61.4 per cent said they would vote for him, making for an overall positive rating from 40.3 per cent of respondents.

"The main reason they disliked Ical was the Lapindo mudflow," Natalie said, referring to the disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, attributed to PT Lapindo Brantas, a subsidiary of the Bakrie family. The ongoing mud flow has displaced tens of thousands of residents and destroyed thousands of hectares.

Allegations of previous human rights abuses, however, apparently did not dampen support for Subianto in the survey.

Almost three-fourths of respondents said that they knew Subianto was dismissed from the Army in connection with kidnapping and the disappearances of pro-democracy activists before the 1997 election during the New Order regime.

Natalie said that those who disliked Ical would support Subianto. "What's interesting is that 51 per cent of respondents who said that they did not trust Ical stated that they would vote for Subianto."

Golkar Party central board members Yories Raweyai, accepted the survey's results, adding that Golkar has two years to improve Ical's image and approval rating with voters. "Even though we have declared Ical as our sole presidential candidate, he’s not yet our presidential candidate until the day we register."

"We will watch the political dynamics and be realistic," he added.

PDI-P lawmaker Budiman Sudjatmiko said that Soekarnoputri, Ical and Subianto had similar ideological leanings and would fight for the same groups of voters.

"They are nationalist and populist and focus on social economic issues. The 60 per cent of undecided respondents will be swayed by their rhetoric," Sudjatmiko said.

The other potential candidates touted by the survey were former vice president Jusuf Kalla, The People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) chairman Wiranto, Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Hatta Rajasa, all of whom were backed by less than 5 per cent of respondents.


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