09 June 2009

Will There Be A Runoff?

This is probably not the biggest question of the day but nevertheless it is an interesting question for Indonesian politics with charges being leveled at the various surveying agencies involved. The question is whether the incumbent president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, will win the presidency in one round or two.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia / LSI) issued survey results last week that suggest that SBY will win in one round as he polled somewhere around 70% support of those who were surveyed. These results were questioned as the survey was commissioned by Fox Indonesia. Fox Indonesia has links to the SBY campaign.

However, it is worth noting that the LSI conducted the survey and not Fox Indonesia. If the claim is that the LSI produced the results that Fox Indonesia wanted, then this brings into question the credibility of LSI. However those claiming that the results lack credibility have offered nothing more than the fact that Fox commissioned the survey.

In contrast to the LSI survey, the Information Research Institute (Lembaga Riset Informasi / LRI) conducted a survey of its own and achieved some very different results. It is clear that the LRI has links to the Kalla - Wiranto campaign through Kalla. The LRI went to some length stating that the survey was not commissioned by the Kalla - Wiranto campaign.

However, these links should not automatically disqualify the survey results obtained. What is interesting is that the Director of LRI, Johan Silalahi, has stated that if SBY wins in one round he would be willing to dissolve the LRI. He then issues a similar challenge to LSI on their credibility if the LSI results are not borne out in the presidential election.

The LRI survey still has SBY in front of the crowd but the difference suggests a two-round election process. The LRI survey results suggest that SBY has about 33% of the vote, Kalla trails on 29%, and Megawati is a somewhat distant third on 20%.

The argument for the difference in these results is that the has been a recent, and obviously rapid, movement of support to Kalla. This is being attributed to Muslims who are uncomfortable with SBY, particularly relating to the wearing of the jilbab and racism. Zulkieflimansyah of PKS (Prosperous Justice Party / Partai Keadilan Sejahtera), one of parties supporting SBY, has suggested that the members and followers of that party might support Kalla as his wife wears the jilbab.

The racism charges stem from the following comment by Ruhut Sitompul, who just happens to be a member of Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party / PD) Central Board (which happens to be SBY's party), "Arabs have never done anything for Indonesia." Reminds me of the film Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does. So, Ruhut, don't hold back; tell us what you think of Indonesians of Chinese, Indian, or Dutch descent.

So, who is right with these surveys? I suppose we will find out on 8 July 2009 when the presidential election is to be held. In the big scheme of things, and surveys aside, it would be interesting to hear and read what the actual policies of each of the candidate pairings are as this might be a little more relevant to the future of Indonesia.

Indonesian politics, lovin' it!

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