Indonesian pollsters want ethics code ahead of elections

Indonesian pollsters want ethics code ahead of elections

A group of pollsters has called on members in their fast-growing industry to maintain integrity and fairness in the coming months ahead of elections.

The group, made up of 25 pollsters, calls itself Persepi. It hopes to impose a code of ethics on pollsters in the lead-up to elections in April.

"We have seen so many survey results released (in 2013), some by new polling outfits we have not heard of. Naturally, we have heard some feedback that some of these are dodgy results," political scientist Andrinof Chaniago told The Straits Times.

Since 2004, the number of polling outlets has more than tripled and there are now hundreds, including new ones outside Jakarta, observers say.

They charge as low as 50 million rupiah (S$5,000) for surveys done in small cities to gauge the electability of district chiefs, or up to 100 million rupiah for bigger cities. The rate can go above 500 million rupiah for nationwide polls involving 2,000 respondents.

In a single week last month, at least four survey results were released, all tracking the performance of presidential candidates in this year's elections, including leaders who have yet to announce their candidacies.

Because of the high number of district-level and provincial elections across the country last year - nearly 200 in all - pollsters have been kept busy.

Of particular worry is something called a "success fee", which pollsters pocket if they ensure a win for the candidate who is their client - a clear conflict of interest.

Mr Dendy Susianto, chief of a district-level poll outfit called LKPI, was quoted as saying on television that he charges up to 100 million rupiah for operational and administrative costs, but takes an additional "success fee" of 500 million rupiah if his client wins.

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