Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Fri, December 13 2013, 8:03 AM
The results of a public opinion poll released on Thursday revealed that a significant portion of voters had no problem accepting money in return for their vote.
Jakarta-based pollster Indikator found that 41.5 percent of 15,600 respondents interviewed in 39 electoral districts considered vote-buying an acceptable part of democracy.
Indikator revealed that 28.7 percent of the respondents said they would vote for candidates who gave them money; 10.3 percent would vote for candidates who distributed the largest amount of cash; while 55.7 percent would accept the money but still vote for their preferred candidate.
Only 4.3 percent of the respondents said they would not accept payment for their vote.
“This is really alarming for our democracy. Political parties have failed to embrace voters, who then choose to have a transactional relationship with any political party that will give them money,” Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said in a press briefing in Jakarta on Thursday.
Indikator interviewed 400 eligible voters in each electoral district selected for the survey from
September to October.
The survey also found that voters’ education and income played significant roles in their attitude toward vote-buying.
“Around 46 percent of voters who only graduated from elementary school consider vote-buying acceptable; as does 42 percent who graduated from junior high school; 36 percent who graduated from high school; and only 21 percent who graduated from university,” Burhanuddin said.
The survey found that as income rose, voters tended to shun vote-buying.
“Around 47 percent of respondents who earn less than Rp 1 million [US$83] per month consider vote-buying acceptable. For those who earn Rp 1 million to Rp 2 million, the figure is 38; and 29 percent for those who earn more than Rp 2 million,” he said.
A different survey that Indikator conducted in March found that 41.7 percent would accept money from more than one political party in the lead-up to the 2014 general election.
Of the 1,200 eligible voters across Indonesia chosen randomly and interviewed by Indikator between March 22 and 26, 16.8 percent said they had accepted money from political candidates.
More than 80 percent of the respondents said they had never experienced attempts of vote-buying.
Burhanuddin said that exposure to news on vote-buying had also influenced voters’ behavior in regard to the practice.
“Some 55 percent of respondents who had witnessed and knew about vote-buying in their neighborhood said they would accept money from parties during election years. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of respondents who had no experience with the practice said they would not take money from political parties,” he said.
Responding to the findings, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo said that the relaxed attitude did not mean that voter behavior could be generalized.
“Voters’ pragmatism can’t be generalized because in a number of cases it only happened in particular regions. We have around 14 percent of loyal voters who will always support our party whoever the party endorses [as legislative candidates and presidential candidates]. These are people who can’t be targeted in a vote-buying spree,” he said.
Analysts have blamed rampant vote-buying at election time on voter apathy, saying that cash payments were likely to be a deciding factor in the 2014 general election.