Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Voters disregard ideology in elections: Survey

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A recent survey found that the public will not take ideology into consideration when they choose their preferred political parties or presidential candidate in the elections next year.

The survey, conducted by Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicated (SSS), found that candidates with a "nationalist" orientation and "Islamic" candidates stood an equal chance of winning the elections.

Of the 5,000 respondents, 45.06 percent of them said they would vote for nationalist candidates, 44.38 percent for candidates from Islamic parties and 10.56 percent had no preference.

In the general election, 46.40 percent said they would vote for a nationalist party, 43.14 percent vote for an Islamic party and 10.46 percent were undecided.

"This means politicians from any ideology are acceptable. I am optimistic there will be no clashes between supporters of rival parties," said J. Kristiadi from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) here on Wednesday.

The survey was conducted in 19 cities and 14 regencies in 15 provinces through face-to-face interviews. It was designed to measure the strength of Islamic and nationalist political parties contesting the elections next year.

Interviews were conducted between Nov. 10 and Nov. 22 using stratified random sampling.

Marcus Meitzner from the Australian National University (ANU) agreed with Kristiadi, saying the slight margin between those supporting Islamic and nationalist parties would spark conflict only if both groups were homogeneous.

In the case of Indonesia, he said, each group is quite heterogeneous, therefore the chance of a conflict is remote.

"This means that polarization between Islamic and nationalist parties will not happen," he said.

SSS executive director Sukardi Rinakit said the survey found voters' preferences were much the same as they were in the first general election in 1955.

The survey also found that the majority of respondents (52.06 percent) believed the elections would bring better conditions to the country, compared to 41.64 percent said they would not.

Respondents who were optimistic said the direct presidential election would help the nation establish a more legitimate government.

They also believed the direct presidential election would ensure security and political stability.

No. Figures Ideology Support (%)

1. Megawati Soekarnoputri Nationalist 30.10

2. Sultan Hamengku Buwono Nationalist 7.14

3. Susilo B. Yudhoyono Nationalist 5.20

4. Wiranto Nationalist 2.18

5. Other nationalist figures 0.44

6. Amien Rais Islamic 28.16

7. Nurcholish Madjid Islamic 15.84

8. Other Islamic figures 0.38

Total 89.44

Source: Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate