Carlos Paath & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The Golkar Party is the nation’s most popular political outfit, while the Democratic Party and Prosperous Justice Party are paying the price for their involvement in corruption scandals, a survey has found.
A survey of 1,225 people across all 33 provinces by the Jakarta Survey Institute (LSJ) found support for the Democratic Party, of which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a key figure, stood at 6.9 percent.
The survey was conducted over seven days to Friday, starting on the day when Yudhoyono sought to stem the bleeding of public support by weakening the authority of embattled party chairman Anas Urbaningrum. The gloomy result for the ruling party suggests its efforts have so far failed to resonate with the public.
On the weekend, after the survey period, Anas retained his position due to strong regional support despite push to oust him among senior Democrats.
The Democrats won 20.9 percent of votes in the 2009 legislative election.
“When LSJ asked respondents which party they would vote for if the general election was held today, only 6.9 percent claimed that they would vote for [the Democrats],” senior LSJ researcher Igor Dirgantara said in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Igor said that the decision by Yudhoyono to take over control of the party from Anas had failed to dispel public doubts about the party’s direction.
Anas last week signed an integrity pact instituted by Yudhoyono, but is continuing to wield power in the party.
The LSJ survey found that the popularity of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) stood at 2.6 percent following the arrest of its former chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) due to allegations of wrongdoing involving beef import quotas.
Despite the party’s attempt to revitalize itself through the appointment of Anis Matta as the new chairman, its support remains tepid.
“When LSJ asked respondents which party they would vote for if the general election was held today, only 2.6 percent said they would vote for the PKS,” Igor said, contrasting it with the 7.9 percent vote it achieved in the 2009 legislative election.
Igor said that majority of people did not believe that the PKS was a “clean” party.
“All along the PKS always declared itself as a ‘clean’ party and its cadres were never involved in corruption,” he said.
“The public’s trust towards the party collapsed instantly with the naming of [Luthfi] as a suspect.”
But PKS representatives shrugged off the latest poor poll result.
Al Muzzammil Yusuf, a PKS politician who is also the deputy chairman of House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said that since the 2004 election, the party had always performed badly in public surveys. Therefore, his party would not focus too much on poll results.
“Surveys always puts the PKS at the bottom. But facts in the field show that we are twice as high. It’s been like that since 2004,” Muzammil said.
“It has always been low: we never exceeded 4 percent, but in reality, we obtained 8 percent,” he said, adding that “it’s common to see them [political surveys] engineered.”
Nevertheless, Muzammil admitted that the arrest of Luthfi could have hurt the party. “Surely the case will have some impact,” he said, adding that he was confident that his party would defy poor public perceptions.
The LSJ survey found that the Golkar Party was the nation’s favorite.
“In terms of popularity, PG remains strong at the top,” Igor said, putting their vote at 18.5 percent, followed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle [PDI-P] on 16.8 percent.
“If [we] refer to polls by other polling institutions, PG’s chance to win in the 2014 general election is wide open.”
Igor added that the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), which came in eighth place in the 2009 election, had now leapt to third place with 10.3 percent.
The survey had margin of error of 2.8 percent.
The results are likely to benefit the presumptive presidential candidates of the top-polling parties.
Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie is seeking to gain momentum for his tilt at the presidency, while Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto is emerging as his main challenger.
PDI-P’s Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president, is yet to declare her intentions to run in 2014, but is likely to attract a strong following if she does run.
The survey results came a day after a polling analyst said the Democrats’ popularity will continue to fall so long as Anas remained party chairman.
Refly Harun, executive director of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro), on Monday said that by retaining Anas, the party gave the public the impression it was backtracking from the strong antigraft position that helped it perform strongly in the 2009 elections.
“As long as Anas continues to play a public role, it will be hard for the Democrats,” Refly said.
“Politics is all about perception. Regardless of whether the allegations against Anas are true, the voters already perceive him as being involved [in corruption].”
Anas was once considered a potential presidential candidate, but his prospects dimmed as the corruption allegations grew. No other likely presidential candidate has emerged from party ranks.