Indonesians favour secular parties

Most Muslims in Indonesia prefer to vote for secular rather than religious parties, according to a survey.

    Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population

    Recent violence blamed on armed hardline groups, including last year's Bali bombing that killed more than 200, has been accompanied by forecasts from some quarters that extremist political strength was growing. 

    But the poll of 2240 respondents across Indonesia - of which 1996 were Muslims - found Muslim-based parties did not have enough votes to garner a majority. 

    The poll, conducted by random interviews between 1 August  and 20 August, divided the respondents into three categories, devout Muslim, secular Muslim and non-Muslim. 

    Popularity contest

    The survey was conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute, an independent research body devoted to polling
    voters on political issues. 

    Bali Bombings decreased the
    popularity of hardline groups

    Over 51%  of respondents who considered themselves devout Muslims said they would vote for secular parties in next year's general election, while an overwhelming 69.4%  of secular Muslims said they would vote for non-Islamic parties. 

    The secular Golkar party and Indonesia's Democratic
    Party-Struggle (PDI-P), which President Megawati Sukarnoputri heads, were the clear favourites to lead the tally among the devout and secular Muslim voters as well as non-Muslim voters. 

    The poll also found Muslim leaders were less popular than nationalist figures among the respondents. 

    Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population,
    but many of the followers take a moderate outlook on Islam and, except for the troubled province of Aceh, Islamic Sharia law is not widely practiced.  

    SOURCE: Reuters


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