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Survey finds Indonesians ‘prefer’ bin Salman, Putin

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Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (right) speaks with deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on December 14, 2016. AFP

Survey finds Indonesians ‘prefer’ bin Salman, Putin

A public opinion poll conducted by Australian think tank Lowy Institute has found that although the majority of Indonesians were committed to democracy, many showed a high level of confidence in authoritarian leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The survey found that four in 10 respondents, or 40 per cent of those surveyed, said they had confidence in Putin.

“It should be noted, though, that this survey was conducted prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine,” the think tank said in a statement.

The survey also showed that respondents had a preference for other authoritarian leaders like Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhamad bin Salman (57 per cent) and the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (52 per cent).

“Respondents express these high levels of confidence, regardless of their stated religion,” it said.

For Indonesia Poll 2021, the Lowy Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 Indonesians aged 17 to 65 from 33 provinces between November 29 and December 24.

The survey also found that the majority of respondents, at a staggering 74 per cent, said they had confidence in the leadership of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Indonesians, however, had a noticeably low level of confidence in regional leaders like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at 38 per cent each.

Meanwhile, around a third (34 per cent) of the respondents expressed confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

The lowest ranked leader on the list was Myanmar’s junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, with only 30 per cent of respondents saying they had high or some confidence in him.

The public opinion survey also found that despite concerns from activists and experts that Indonesia could be experiencing democratic backsliding amid global evidence of a decline in the quality of democracy, Indonesians are as broadly committed to democracy as they were a decade ago.

“Six in 10 believe that ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’, a very slight decline since 2011,” the think tank said.

Yet there has been a modest increase in the proportion of people who believe that “in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable”, up to 20 per cent from 16 per cent in 2011.

A majority of respondents, around nine in 10, are of the opinion that Indonesia is part of “the democratic world”.

Compared to a decade ago, now more Indonesians see promoting democracy in other countries as an important goal, with 78 per cent of respondents believing that Indonesia should take up the mission, up 12 points from 2011.

Also, the same proportion of Indonesians say “advocating for Muslim communities in other countries” is a very or fairly important goal.

One of the principal authors of the survey, Benjamin Bland, commented on the survey’s findings, saying that unlike many in the West, Indonesians do not see the rest of the world in black and white terms.

“Indonesians still strongly value their own democracy at home, amid fears of backsliding . . . despite their confidence in many world leaders who are unelected or authoritarian,” Bland said in a series of posts on social media on Tuesday.

Bland also said that Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, including its leaders, did well in some measures, which could be seen as an indication of some “contradiction”.

“Humans cannot be easily categorized. Indonesians view different countries through different lenses for different reasons,” he said.



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