Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Pollsters and Populism in Indonesia

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

Public opinion surveys and exit polls have been an essential part of Indonesian politics for more than a decade now. Some pollsters have become quasi-celebrities over the years, appearing regularly on television to discuss latest survey results and political trends. But the industry is heavily fragmented, with more than twenty polling institutions registered with the General Election Commission during the controversial Jakarta election in 2017. The fragmentation has posed challenges to the credibility of the industry as ethical and methodological standards vary. This paper examines some of these challenges against the background of Indonesia’s continuing democratic stagnation. Focusing not only on the pollsters’ much-debated role during election campaigns but also their ability to shape public opinion on key policy issues. The paper analyses to what extent the centrality of pollsters in Indonesian politics has contributed to the declining quality of democracy and the rise of populism.  

Dirk Tomsa

La Trobe University, Australia

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