Indonesia Elections 2014: Court lifts curbs on opinion polls during cooling-off period

JAKARTA -Indonesia's constitutional court yesterday struck down restrictions on publishing opinion polls during the three-day cooling-off period that starts Sunday, saying the curbs went against the right to information.

The court also scrapped restrictions on publishing the results of quick counts and exit polls, saying they could be announced once polling had closed.

This means that once voting in eastern Indonesia is over by 1pm on April 9, those yet to cast their ballots in Sumatra and Java - two hours behind Papua and Maluku - will know how the votes would have gone.

The election law states that quick counts and exit polls can be released only two hours after voting ends in western Indonesia, or at 3pm Jakarta time. In its ruling striking these clauses out with immediate effect, the court said survey releases cannot be banned as long as they are done scientifically and are not intended to influence voters during cooling-off time.

The court also said there is no evidence showing that a quick count has, in the past, disturbed public order or created uneasiness, as it is clear that quick counts should not be treated as official results.

This article was published on April 4 in The Straits Times.

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