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NEWS UPDATES 8 July 2009

Polls favour Yudhoyono as Indonesia’s elections start

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Indonesians began voting in the second direct election since the country ended 32 years of authoritarian rule, with polls indicating that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will triumph with an enhanced majority, reported Bloomberg news.

Yudhoyono, a 59-year-old former general, scored his highest approval ratings in recent months after inflation slowed and Indonesia avoided the recessions that plagued its neighbors. He needs to win a majority to avoid a run-off ballot in September that might snap a stock-market rally and weaken the rupiah, Asia’s best-performing currency this year.

A first-round victory for the man known as ‘SBY’ would strengthen his hand in forming a cabinet without the political divisions that impeded policies during his first term. The next administration needs to streamline bureaucracy to unleash Indonesia’s economic potential, Goldman Sachs said on July 6.

“Indonesia is destined to be one of the global tigers, it’s just a question of education and leadership,” said Dennis Heffernan, director of Jakarta-based Van Zorge, Heffernan & Associates, which provides business advice. “If those two things come into place over the next decade or two, it’s going to be a formidable world player.”

Yudhoyono is competing against predecessor Megawati Sukarnoputri, , 62, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who heads the party former dictator Suharto used to stay in power for three decades until 1998. Yudhoyono tackled corruption, cut debt and gave cash to the poor in his first term, delivering the nation’s fastest growth in a decade.

Indonesia’s 176 million voters began casting ballots this morning at 450,000 polling stations across a country of 17,000 islands that spans a distance greater than that between Los Angeles and New York. Preliminary results will be available after voting closes this afternoon, based on sample counts compiled by privately run survey groups.

Yudhoyono was favored by 63 percent of those responding in a poll taken June 30 to July 2 by the Indonesian Survey Institute. Megawati received 20 percent and Kalla got 11 percent in the survey of 3,034 people, which had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.


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