Sat, 27 Sep 2003

'Golkar to benefit from public disappointment to win polls'

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Golkar Party would take advantage of widespread disappointment with the so-called reform parties to woo support from the public, particularly from first-time voters, to win the election next year, a survey shows.

A recent survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) showed that Golkar would seize some 3.5 percent of the vote won by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) in 1999, 0.7 percent from National Awakening Party (PKB), 0.8 percent from the United Development Party (PPP), 0.2 percent from the National Mandate Party (PAN) and 0.2 percent from the Crescent Star Party (PBB).

The reform movement that marked the fall of long-time ruler President Soeharto in 1998 gave birth to hundreds of new parties. The ensuing general election in 1999 saw PDI Perjuangan finish first to end the unbeaten run of the Soeharto-built New Order's political machine Golkar.

"People who cast their ballots for the so-called reform parties in 1999 will return to Golkar out of disappointment," M. Qadari, the LSI research director, told a press conference on Friday.

PDI Perjuangan, which won 33.7 percent of the vote in 1999, would suffer the biggest blow with only 20.8 percent of the vote in the upcoming election, the survey predicted.

Other parties would experience a decline, with PKB down to 7.5 percent of the vote from 12.6 percent in 1999, PAN dropping to 3.5 percent of the vote from 7.1 percent and PBB down from 1.94 percent to 1.9 percent.

Qadari said the government's failure to implement speedy economic recovery and security concerns plaguing the country were the reasons for the people's decision to look back at Golkar.

Some 56.4 percent of 1,700 respondents surveyed said they felt their life was far better under the New Order regime and some 65.4 percent said that the current government had failed to put an end to the economic crisis.

As many as 28.7 percent of the respondents believed Golkar may help the country overcome the economic crisis, while only 19 percent were confident in PDI Perjuangan.

"The respondents dream about the glory old days under the New Order regime. They are more tolerant of corruption practices as they only expect their economic life to improve," Qadari said.

Golkar has a great chance of winning support from voters who "migrate from other parties" as it stands between nationalist- based PDI Perjuangan and Muslim-based parties like PBB, PPP, PAN and PKB, Qadari added.

"Golkar will benefit a lot from long-standing rivalry between secular-nationalist and Islam parties," he said.

The survey also disclosed a remote chance for new parties of stealing the limelight. Parties like the Reform Star Party (PBR), the Pioneer Party, the Glorious Bull Nationalist Party (PNBK), the National Democratic Party (PDK) and the New Indonesian Alliance Party (PIB) would each gain 0.2 percent of the vote.

"They will apparently be unable to meet the electoral threshold of 3 percent of the vote and will be denied entry to the 2009 election," Qadari said.

He said the fact that most voters lived in remote areas would also help Golkar win back the power as the people could hardly recognize the new contending parties.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 1 to Aug. 20 nationwide excluding Aceh, involving 1,760 respondents chosen through random sampling.

Most of the respondents come from rural areas with low education and economic status. The composition of female and male respondents was fifty-fifty.