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The Jakarta Post: LRI Disbands, LSI Surveys Most Accurate at Predicting Winner

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 07/10/2009 1:44 PM | National

Many pollsters published surveys predicting the outcome of the Wednesday’s presidential election, but the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) appears to have been the most accurate.

LSI director Saiful Mujani said Thursday that the accuracy was due to the integrity and professionalism of its surveyors.

“We have greater accuracy because we stick to the standard methodology of surveying with the help of the strong commitment from our surveyors and regional volunteers,” Saiful said.

“Surveying is our daily job, that is why we will always maintain our professionalism, regardless who our sponsors might be. Despite our accuracy on the presidential election, we are still looking to improve in the future.”

LSI senior researcher Burhanuddin Muhtadi said the commitment of LSI surveyors was reflected in the risks they took and challenges they overcame in their surveying.

“One of our surveyors lost his leg due to an accident in a remote region in Sulawesi. Another had to spent days on the sea to survey a remote place in Papua,” he said.

“You will not hear these kinds of stories from questionable survey institutions.”

Political experts and parties questioned LSI’s integrity as its surveys were funded by Fox Indonesia, a political consultant company hired by the Democratic Party (PD).

The controversy began in early June when the LSI announced the results of its survey, which stated that incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was likely to win the election in a single round, with 70 percent of votes.

Burhanuddin acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the LSI’s research was funded by Fox.

The LSI’s latest survey, which polled 3,000 respondents across the country between June 30 and July 3, gave Yudhoyono a majority 63.1 percent of votes.

According to the same survey, Megawati Soekarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) would secure 19.6 percent of the votes, while Golkar Party’s Jusuf Kalla would win 10.6 percent.

Unofficial quick count results by various pollsters show that LSI’s prediction is the closest of any survey institute.

“People need to realize that surveys are expensive. Therefore, we need sponsors,” Saiful said.

“We do not care whether our sponsor is a presidential campaign team or not. Whoever they are, they cannot interfere with the results.”

Quick counts from five majoy survey institutes show Yudhoyono received the most votes, securing between 60 and 62 percent of the total, followed by Megawati with between 21 and 27 percent and Kalla with 12 to 16 percent.

The presidential election law stipulates that a candidate must win at least 50 percent of votes in at least 17 provinces.

“I believe if every institution used the same methodology and standards as us the results would not have had a lot of differences,” Saiful said.

“The main question is whether or not other institutions conducted proper surveys. ”

The Indonesian Research Institute (LRI) contradicted the LSI’s findings, predicting Yudhoyono would get 33 percent of the votes, followed by Kalla with 29 percent and Megawati with 20 percent.

Such a situation would have taken the election to a second round.

LRI director Johan Silalahi was so confident in his institution’s findings that he pledged to shut his company down should the election results not reflect its findings.

Johan kept his word, disbanding the LRI on Wednesday as soon as quick count results came out.

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