Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Students regard 'golput' as irresponsible

A. Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The surprising results of the Atmajaya Catholic University's survey of the enthusiasm of students toward the April 5 legislative election show that, contrary to public perception, most university students in Greater Jakarta plan to vote on Monday.

According to the survey titled Rapid Assessment: Stance and Political Aspirations of Students and First-Time Voters Toward the 2004 General Election, more than 80 percent of students will vote. The students surveyed, who are all first-time voters, regarded the attitude of golput people -- a term coined to describe a group of people who refuse to vote for, or support any political party -- as irresponsible.

Over 1,399 respondents of two state universities and seven privately run universities in Greater Jakarta participated in the survey.

"The political parties' platforms were a consideration for 52 percent of respondents in electing (a party)," Dhevvy Setya Wibawa, a researcher at the university, said on Thursday at the presentation of the results.

The respondents, half of whom are Muslims, tended to favor political parties which are not ideologically based on religion or a particular group, the survey found.

Sociologist Erry Seda, who moderated the presentation, said that the survey overturned the common perception that most students are golput.

The university had also conducted a survey on The Attitude of the Business Community Toward the 2004 General Election, involving 160 managers of 56 companies listed with the Jakarta Stock Exchange and 104 non-listed companies.

The respondents were confident that the situation in the country during the 2004 general election would be no worse than that of the 1999 general election.

Meanwhile, when asked to state their biggest concern regarding the elections, the respondents replied: "The most important problems are legal certainty, bureaucratization, red tape and regional autonomy."

The managers predicted that the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Golkar Party would win the most votes, although they also believed that the two parties were not capable of improving the condition of the country.

The businesspeople had empathy for the newly established Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which they described as progressive parties.

Many surveys, including the one conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), also predicted that Golkar and PDI-P, would win the most votes.