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Key Findings: IFES Indonesia Electoral Survey 2010

In August 2010, IFES contracted Polling Center of Jakarta to conduct a nationwide public opinion survey with a sample size of 2,500. Interviews were conducted in all 33 provinces and the survey is nationally representative of all voting-age individuals across Indonesia. The survey focused on the electoral process and electoral institutions in the country but also addresses general socio-economic issue and attitudes toward democracy and political participation. A summary of key finding from the survey is provided below. Some comparative data from an IFES 2008 survey is also cited. The sample size for that survey was also 2,500 and was nationally representative of all voting-age individuals across Indonesia. The margin of error for a survey of this size is plus/minus 2%.

Socio-Economic Situation in Indonesia

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When asked if they believe things in Indonesia are generally going in the right direction or wrong direction, 59% of Indonesians say the country is going in the right direction. Yet, one-quarter of Indonesians (25%) believe the country is going in the wrong direction and 16% say they don’t know or gave no response.

Most respondents mention the increased price of basic needs or inflation (60%) as the biggest problem facing Indonesians. Inflation has been cited as the biggest problem facing Indonesians in IFES’ 2003 survey (54%), 2005 survey (59%), and peaking in the 2008 survey (81%). Other problems cited as facing Indonesians include jobs (18%), followed by lack of security/law enforcement (7%), education (5%), health (4%), political uncertainty (2%), and ethnic/religious-based conflicts (less than 1%).

Consistent with respondents’ view of inflation and jobs as the biggest problems facing the country, 66% of Indonesians view the current economic situation as somewhat bad (56%) or very bad (11%), and one-third of Indonesians view the economic situation as somewhat good (29%) or very good (1%). A majority of respondents in all socio-economic segments of society believe that that current economic situation is bad: SES E1 (78%), SES D (63%), SES C (63%), SES B (71%), and SES A (74%). This sentiment is also shared by a majority of residents of most regions of Indonesia with the exception of those in Kalimantan (53% good, 45% bad) and Sulawesi (43% good, 45% bad).

Democracy and Voting

Voting is viewed as a way to influence decision-making in Indonesia. Seventy-eight percent of Indonesians somewhat agree (74%) or strongly agree (4%) that voting gives them a chance to influence decision-making. Only a small percentage of Indonesians somewhat disagree (11%) or strongly disagree (2%). Belief in the power of their vote is up slightly from 72% in 2008.

When asked to state what they think it means to live in a democracy, the most cited response is freedom (38%), yet 41% of Indonesians say they don’t know and were unable to give a response. Fewer respondents mention harmony (4%), individual opportunity (2%), and power in citizens’ hands (2%). Don’t know responses are generally concentrated among those whose highest level of education is junior high school or lower.

Those who are aware of the tenets of a democracy were read three statements and asked with which one they most agree. Seventy-two percent say they prefer democracy, 20% say the type of government doesn’t matter to them, 4% say a non-democratic government is sometimes preferable, and 4% say they don’t know.

Three-quarters of Indonesians (74%) with knowledge of a democratic system believe Indonesia is a democracy. Fifteen percent say it is both democratic and non-democratic, 6% say it is not a democracy and 5% say they don’t know.

More than half (62%) of Indonesians say religion has an influence on important political decision they make at least to some extent (44%) or to a great extent (18%). The reported influence of religion on political decision-making has dropped from 2008. In 2008, 79% of Indonesians said religion influenced their political decisions to some extent (49%) or to a great extent (30%).

There is a high level of satisfaction with several institutions critical to the political process in Indonesia. A majority of Indonesians are very or somewhat satisfied with the president (66%), the governor of their province (64%), the regent/mayor (62%), the police (58%), Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) (57%), and the vice president (52%). Respondents express less satisfaction with other government institutions. Forty-nine percent are very/somewhat satisfied with the Constitutional Court, local courts (47%), Regency/City DPRD (46%), Regional Representatives Council (DPD) (45%), BPK (44%), Mahkamah Agung (43%), Attorney General (40%), and the People’s Representative Council (DPR) (36%).

Of those aware of the various electoral institutions, there are fairly high levels of satisfaction with these institutions. Seventy-two percent say they are very/somewhat satisfied with the KPU. Confidence in the KPU has held steady compared to the 2008 survey (71%). For other electoral institutions, 71% are very/somewhat satisfied with PANWAS, 70% very/somewhat satisfied with BAWASLU, and 69% very/somewhat satisfied with Regional KPUDs. Voters are also confident that the KPUD (61%), PANWAS (60%), civil servants (63%), and TNI (78%) are able to respond neutrally without political influence in issues related to the local elections.

A majority of Indonesians (65%) believe the results released by the KPUD reflect the actual vote, while only 9% say they do not reflect the actual votes, and 26% say they don’t know.

Knowledge and Perception of Election Procedures

Sixty-four percent of Indonesians say somebody has come to their house in the past to check the voter registration status of their families, while 31% say nobody came to check their status, and 6% say they don’t know. Of those who say somebody came to check their registration status, 40% say it was the Head of RT, 25% say it was a village official, 22% say it was the election committee, 7% say it was the head of the village, and 2% say it was the Head of RW. It should be noted that Indonesian electoral law does not require door-to-door checking of registration status and leaves it up to the voter to verify their own registration status.

Fewer respondents report themselves checking to see if their name was on the voter’s list. Forty-one percent say they have checked, 52% say they have not, and 7% say they don’t know. Of those who did not check, 24% say it is because they were optimistic that they were already registered, 11% say they have no time, 11% mention the fact they have the voting card already, and 6% say they don’t know where to go.

When asked how they select which party to vote for, 41% report voting for different parties from election to election, while 21% say they mostly vote for the same party, and 30% say they always vote for the same party. The tendency to always or mostly vote for the same party in elections is higher among older age groups (45 and older: 60%; 25-44: 48%; 18-24: 38%).

Most voters say they vote for candidates based on personality (41%), with less citing level of experience in government (15%), past performance (11%), or a candidates’ platform (11%). Forty-one percent of respondents in each case say they are extremely unlikely to vote for a candidate who is corrupt or dishonest.

Regarding the local elections that have been taking place this year and will take place next year, 78% of Indonesians say they do not have very much (66%) or no information at all (12%) regarding these elections.

Specifically, voters where local elections have yet to take place report needing more information on participating political parties (73%), candidacy (73%), vote counting/how candidates are elected (72%), campaigns (67%), information on where and when to vote (65%), voting procedures/how to mark the ballot (64%), and registration (57%).

Half of voters (50%) say they have not seen information about checking the voter’s register for the local elections, 9% say they don’t know, yet 41% say they have seen this information. Seventy-one percent of voters say they have seen information on marking the ballot, with 26% saying they have not, and 3% say they don’t know.

In areas where elections have yet to take place, 96% of respondents were unable to cite the correct date of the elections and only 4% stated the correct date. In areas where the election is less than one month away, 75% are aware of the election date while 25% are not. The vast majority of respondents (94%) in areas with upcoming elections say they are at least somewhat likely to vote. Sixty-nine percent of respondents say they are somewhat likely and 25% say they are very likely to vote.

TV is the most cited source of information used to learn more about local elections (37%), followed by family/friends (26%), posters/billboards/pamphlets (18%), or the Head of RT (12%). Indeed, 34% of Indonesians say advertising campaigns on TV are the most effective way to encourage them to vote, followed by talks how programs on TV/radio (12%), word of mouth (12%), religious meetings (12%), informal meetings (12%), debates among candidates (7%), or posters/banners (5%).

Election Violence

Very few respondents (1%) in areas that had local elections report any violence surrounding the elections, 7% say they don’t know, and 92% believe there was no violence.

A majority of respondents (77%) say they are not concerned about violence surrounding these elections. Fifty-six percent of respondents say they are not very concerned and 21% say they are not

at all concerned. Still, 14% say they are somewhat concerned and 6% say they are very concerned. In DKI Jakarta 42% of respondents are very/somewhat concerned about election violence, 35% in Java Timur, 29% in Riau, 27% in Papua Barat, and 24% in Banten. Of those concerned about election violence, 46% believe party candidate supporters are likely to instigate violence and 21% believe the losing side instigates violence. The Indonesian Police are seen as the institution primarily responsible for preventing violence around elections (77%), followed by 5% who believe it should be the KPU, 5% who believe TNI, and 3% who believe the KPUD.

Most Indonesians view reasons behind election violence as competition between supporters of different political parties (43%), rivalry between candidate supporters (33%), competition between candidates to gain office for enriching themselves (12%), poor management of the election process (10%), or rivalry between people of different religious/ethnic groups (1%).

Opinions on Electoral Issues

Indonesians say they would rather vote directly for a candidate that represents their community in parliament (77%) than for a political party who decides who to represent their community in parliament (17%).

Fifty-eight percent of Indonesians also somewhat/strongly agree the number of parties in the DPR should be reduced so that the DPR can be more effective in dealing with the country’s issues. Alternatively, 32% agree that the number of parties in the DPR should not be reduced because they represent the views of different types of people who live in Indonesia.

Fifty-four percent of Indonesians say if they had a choice between a female candidate and a male candidate they would support the male candidate, while 32% say there is no difference, and 14% would support the female candidate. By gender, 62% of men say they would support the male candidate compared to 47% of women who say they would support the male candidate. Nearly the same percentage of men and women say there is no difference (32% men, 33% women), yet more women respondents say they would support a female candidate (21%) than men (6%).

Intelligence is the main quality respondents say would make them more likely to vote for a female candidate (35%), followed by the candidate lacking corruption (26%), and her experience in politics (20%).

Currently, 50% of the Indonesian population is composed of women, compared to 18% of legislators in the DPR and the regional legislative bodies who are women, In light of this, 41% of Indonesians believe there is too low a proportion of women in elected positions, while 38% believe the proportion is just right, 4% say the proportion is too high, and 18% say they don’t know.

According to the election law, each political party is required to have 30% of the candidates on its list be women. Sixty-nine percent of respondents somewhat agree with this quota and 5% strongly agree. Only 12% somewhat disagree and less than 1% strongly disagree with the quota.

To ensure political parties meet quotas, respondents were presented with three different ways the KPU could enforce this quota. Thirty-three percent of respondents believe the KPU should enforce the quota by announcing in the media the parties who do not meet the quota, 30% believe the KPU should reject party lists that do not meet quota requirements and ask for party lists to be resubmitted, 14% believe the KPU should penalize parties who do not meet the quota by not letting them run in the election in the districts where the quota was not met, and 22% say they don’t know what steps the KPU should take.

1 Respondents are classified into socio-economic status categories based on reported household income. Categories range from highest income (Category A) to lowest income (Category E).