Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Megawati risks losing both elections: Survey

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri risks losing her bid in the upcoming presidential election against her former top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, while the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) she leads is predicted to come second after the Golkar Party, two opinion polls revealed.

The first survey, on the impact of the campaign on voters' preference for presidential candidates and the 24 political parties contesting the 2004 election, was conducted from March 18 to March 24 and involved 2,760 respondents from all 32 provinces.

Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) researchers used the multi- stage random sampling method in the campaign impact survey, for which eight respondents in each of 145 cities and 200 villages were interviewed. Respondents broke down into 42 percent urban and 58 percent rural respondents. LSI researchers set the margin of error at 2 percent.

According to the survey, Megawati only garnered 17.4 percent in the poll compared to 20.9 percent for the former coordinating minister, despite her intensive media campaign.

Renowned Indonesianist William Liddle said at a press conference held by LSI that Megawati's inability to communicate with the public had contributed much to diminishing her appeal.

"Her incumbency hasn't done much to improve her image, as she created many political adversaries along the way," Liddle said.

On the contrary, Susilo had been able to capitalize on his former post to boost his statesmanship image, he said. "But it is also because of his charm."

As for the PDI-P, the party gained only 17.2 percent of support from respondents, coming in second after Golkar, which received 23.2 percent.

However, Golkar leader Akbar Tandjung, who was recently acquitted by the Supreme Court in a graft case, only ranked fourth with 8.4 percent support, after National Mandate Party (PAN) leader Amien Rais with 9.9 percent.

The emergence of Susilo was also thought to have contributed to the improved performance of the Democratic Party from a little-known party into a second-tier political party with 4.9 percent support, just below the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with 5.5 percent.

Susilo quit his ministerial post last month after announcing publicly that Megawati had left him out in the cold regarding certain political and security matters.

The second poll, conducted from March 21 to March 28 by the International Foundation for Electoral Studies (IFES) showed similar results.

For the presidential election on July 5, Susilo received 18.4 percent support compared to Megawati's 11.6 percent, Amien's 7.9 percent and Akbar's 5 percent, the survey said as reported by Agence-France Presse.

A previous IFES survey showed that Megawati had garnered 11.5 percent support, Amien 10.3 percent, Susilo 8.3 percent and Akbar 6.5 percent. Tue

IFES survey found that Golkar had garnered 19 percent support in the polls, against PDI-P's 8.6 percent and PAN's 7.3 percent.