A retired general who has been dogged by accusations of rights abuses came out on top in the latest survey ahead of the 2014 presidential election, as observers and activists dismissed the results and criticized the pollsters.
The survey, conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) from Feb. 1-12, found that Prabowo Subianto, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Aburizal Bakrie were the most popular candidates if the election were held today.
Prabowo, who heads the board of patrons of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), was the choice of 39 percent of the 2,050 voters surveyed. Former President Megawati, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was at 28 percent and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal had 17 percent.
â€śIf the presidential election were held now, the election would go to two rounds and Prabowo would ultimately be elected president,â€ť said the LSI survey report, released on Thursday. Prabowo would most likely face Megawati in the second round, it added.
Prabowo is a former commander of the Kopassus special forces, which was implicated in a number of rights abuses, though he was never charged.
Usman Hamid, from the Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said the survey ignored the records of the potential candidates.
â€śIt is deplorable that the survey only refers to the popularity of those three names, and not to their programs, platforms or even track records,â€ť he said.
Usman also criticized the survey for only addressing â€śtop of mindâ€ť candidates.
â€śThis clearly led to irrational evaluations,â€ť he said,
The LSI survey presented those questioned with a list of 18 candidates and asked them to name their top choice to highlight name recognition.
A total of 17.6 percent of respondents chose Megawati. Prabowo came second with 12.8 percent, former Vice President Jusuf Kalla was third with 9.7 percent and Aburizal had 7.2 percent. In fifth position was Yogyakartaâ€™s Sultan Hamengkubuwono X with 6.3 percent.
LSI executive director Saiful Mujani said that among those candidates who had already intensively promoted themselves as possible candidates in 2014, Prabowo topped the electability list, winning in firmness, intelligence, piousness and good looks.
Aburizal came second and Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, was third.
Military observer Salim Said said the leading potential candidates were actively promoting themselves, but had the surveyed public known about their track records and weaknesses, the results would have been different.