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Political Profile of Bali

Election Update: Respected 'Insiders' Newsletter from Jakarta Gives Overview of Bali Politics.

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Indonesia Digest - The weekly newsletter published by Ms. Wuryastuti Sunario that manages each week to summarize "Indonesia's complex issues in a Nutshell" - recently published an article on the political profile of Bali, based on recent polls carried out by the Indonesian-language daily newspaper Kompas.

With the kind permission of Ms. Sunario, is republishing her article:

Polictical Profile in Bali

"Among all provinces in Indonesia, Bali is in a unique position, because this island is predominantly Hindu in a country that is predominantly Moslem, with some pockets of Christian communities and islands in the east of Indonesia. Besides sustained by agriculture, Bali has also thrived through tourism, but after the Bali blast in October 2002, the problem of SARS and continued worldwide terrorist threats, tourism has dropped drastically. As a result of the slow growth of tourism to the island, total unemployed on Bali in 2003 has reached 100,226 or 1% of total unemployment nationwide.

The province counts 3.4 million inhabitants with 2.47 million registered voters. During the Suharto era, Golkar was predominant on the island, despite the fact that most people here are emotionally attached to Indonesia's first president, Soekarno, father of incumbent president Megawati. Soekarno's mother was Balinese. In the 1999 elections, after the fall of Soeharto, no one was, therefore, surprised when PDIP won a landslide victory on the island, gaining 79% of votes (compared to only 19.5% in 1992). For this reason, Bali was also considered PDIP's main stronghold. Nonetheless, during the past April 2004 elections, PDIP votes dropped drastically to only 52.5% of total votes, with 16.8% going to Golkar and 6.4% going to the brand new Partai Demokrat.

What are the main issues faced by Bali? "Unemployment" said the majority (22.7%) of respondents. Other issues are: increased cost of basic necessities (15.8%), Safety and security (14.7%), Poverty (14.5%), lack of infrastructure (10.3%), Education (6.7%), Corruption (2.5%) and the Environment (2.5%), were the results gathered in a Survey made by Kompas on 4-5 June in 5 districts of Bali on 476 respondents.

When respondents were asked who was their choice of president, the largest average percentage (65,5%) chose Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Jusuf Kalla, followed by Megawati-Hasyim Muzadi at 47%, said the Kompas daily of 12 June 2004. Again evidence of people's disenchantment with the way Megawati's cabinet handled the tourism sector that greatly affected the island.

It is little wonder, therefore, that all presidential candidates are now busy campaigning on Bali, as opportunities abound to gain the sympathy of swing voters, at the same time provide the chance to pull the rug from under PDIP." thanks Ibu Wuryastuti Sunario for her kind permission to quote from her highly respected newsletter.

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