Indonesians Prefer Suharto to Yudhoyono, Poll Indicates

Late former dictator Suharto is more popular than current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a poll found on Monday, despite his regime’s reputation for corruption and repression.

The Indo Barometer poll of 1,200 people found just over 40 percent of respondents believed “conditions were better” under the rule of the military strongman, while nearly 23 percent favoured the liberal ex-general Yudhoyono.

Suharto, who died of natural causes in 2008 aged 86, is remembered fondly by many Indonesians as a strong leader who oversaw growth and stability, despite rights abuses and the alleged theft of billions of dollars.

More than one-third of those polled picked him as their favourite president and 40 percent considered him to be “most successful in carrying out duties as an Indonesian president.”

Only 20 percent rated Yudhoyono as their favourite, while four other former presidents including founding president Sukarno each garnered less than ten percent support.

The nationwide survey, which was carried out between April 25 and May 4, polled rural and city dwellers aged at least 17.

It found most respondents felt politics, the economy, security and social welfare were better during Suharto’s 32 years of autocratic rule, which ended in 1998.

More than half of the respondents were dissatisfied with the reform era, presided over by Yudhoyono. The survey had a margin of error of 3 percent.

“It’s ironic to see that the regime that people wanted changed is now considered to have been better,” the poll centre’s head Muhammad Qodari was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe daily.

“It’s also a blow to everyone who thought that the onset of reform would lead to sweeping improvements,” he added.

Yudhoyono has won two elections on the back of promises to stamp out chronic corruption but his reform efforts have stalled amid opposition from vested interests including lawmakers and police.

His Democratic Party won 20 percent of votes in the 2009 legislative polls, to become the strongest party in parliament.

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