Abdul Khalik , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 09/02/2008 10:20 AM | National

Although former president Megawati Soekarnoputri can secure the most votes in the first round of the 2009 presidential election, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono can still win a second term in office, a new survey reveals.

The survey, launched on Monday, showed if the election were held today, Yudhoyono would win a head-to-head duel against Megawati, with 52.69 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the incumbent, compared to only 43.04 percent for the former president.

The survey was conducted by the Indonesian Research and Development Institute (Irdi) between July 5 and 12, with 2,600 respondents in 33 provinces. It found only 4.27 percent of respondents were undecided, a very low level compared to common fears that at least 15 percent of eligible voters would forgo voting.

Megawati was a clear favorite to win the first round of the election, with over 50 percent of the respondents in Java and Bali saying they would vote for her. She also had support from 23 percent and 30 percent of respondents in Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia respectively.

With over 60 percent of Indonesia’s population concentrated in Java and Bali, and over 18 percent and 20 percent in Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia respectively, Megawati would rake in more than 40 percent of total votes, followed by Yudhoyono with some 32 percent.

The incumbent was a favorite with 23.82 percent, 48.55 percent and 40.85 percent of respondents in Java, Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia respectively.

“SBY will win a head-to-head race because most voters, who previously supported other candidates, will vote for him rather than Megawati,” Irdi executive director Notrida Mandica said during the survey launch.

“It’s also clear the recent fuel price increase will have little impact on SBY’s chances.”

Former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto, People’s Consultative Assembly speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid and Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X trailed in third, fourth and fifth places with 9 percent, 7 percent and 6 percent respectively.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla garnered only 1.34 percent of respondents’ votes in Java, plus 4.36 percent and 12.55 percent in Sumatra and the rest of the country respectively, and placed sixth.

“Kalla has no chance at all of winning the presidential election. It’s best for him to stick with Yudhoyono. I believe both of them will form the winning team that prevailed in the 2004 election for the upcoming poll,” University of Indonesia political analyst Andrinof A. Chaniago said.

He added Hidayat would be the best choice for running mate for Megawati because both had support from different voter segments, with Hidayat’s Islamist supporters providing a significant addition to Megawati’s nationalist supporters.

The survey also revealed most respondents with a low level of education swung toward Megawati, while those with a middle to high level of education preferred Yudhoyono.

Some 46 percent of farmers and fishermen supported Megawati, while 50 percent of civil servants said they would vote for Yudhoyono, the survey showed.