Workers and the 2009 Election

Back in January, the Jakarta Post ran this article, showing the results of election polling of workers done by Federasi Serikat Pekerja (FSP) BUMN Bersatu (Federation of United State Enterprise Worker Unions).  The article has all the ambiguities one might expect when a study is turned into a newspaper article, the most glaring of which is any definition of “workers” (are these FSP BUMN members?  union members? workers more generally?).  A cursory web search didn’t turn up the full results of the survey, which could be quite fascinating.

The article included the following chart, of which no mention is made in the article itself, suggesting a marked increase in the number of “laborers” who will stay home on election day.  The chart certainly raises the issue of golput (boycott) in the upcoming elections, whether its a matter of voter apathy or a concerted strategy.  It will also be interesting to see what is being said about golput in labor/left circles.

Below are the rest of the results.  At a glance, it seems there may be less disparity between leadership choice and party choice among these “workers” than among the population more generally, either based on the 2004 election results or the expected 2009 results.  President Yudhoyono’s popularity across parties was a major driver for that disparity, but the SBY effect may be largely neutralized given his low approval ratings among workers.

What about the role of class?  In explaining the results, FSP BUMN Bersatu Chairman Arief Poyuono explained, “The workers use a simple way to measure the performance of the government. What they see is that the price of Indomie (instant noodles), rice and public transport have now more than doubled compared to when Megawati was president.”  While that perception is no doubt a major factor in Megawati’s popularity among workers, it will be interesting to see how that gets weighed against Liddle and Mujani’s observation that “most parties and candidates claim to represent the lower class.  Their economic platforms are uniformly protectionist, making it difficult if not impossible for voters to discern policy differences.”  Liddle and Mujani’s own analysis of the 2004 elections suggested the sociological factors did not play a key role in voting among the general population.



Josuf Kalla 19.6%
Yudhoyono 12.7%
Prabowo Subianto 7.7%
Sultan Hamengkubowono X 6.5%
Party Preference


Golkar 20.1%
Partai Demokrat (PD) 6.3%
Gerindra 10.9%
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) 9.7%
Development Unity Party (PPP) 7.3%

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