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Timor-Leste Poll: Almost Half the Country Undecided Ahead of National Elections

June 15, 2017

Dili, Timor-Leste — A new poll by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research indicates that nearly half the Timorese population is undecided ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections. While there is a decrease in the number of respondents who say the country is headed in the right direction, expectations for the country’s future remain high.

“In just seven months we’ve seen a decline in those who believe Timor-Leste is headed in the right direction,” said IRI’s Regional Director for Asia, Derek Luyten. “This change may be linked to continued dissatisfaction with key issues such as the poor condition of roads, as well as the high number of undecided voters. The data suggests there is a clear need for all parties to craft policies and platforms that address the concerns of Timorese citizens.”

Forty-six percent of respondents have not decided who to vote for in the upcoming national elections, scheduled to be held on July 22, 2017. Just 34 percent think the country is headed in the right direction — a 15-point drop from IRI’s previous nationwide survey, conducted in November 2016. The number who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction rose by 10 percent, from 21 percent in November 2016 to 31 percent in May 2017. However, 68 percent of respondents believe Timor-Leste will be better off in the coming year, indicating that while the populace may have become more critically-minded, optimism remains high.

In keeping with previous surveys, the condition of roads remains the leading concern. Forty-two percent cite this as the most important issue facing the country, compared to 29 percent in November 2016. More than half (57 percent) of the respondents who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction cited limited infrastructure development as the reason. Perceptions of corruption have also worsened since November 2016, with 29 percent claiming that state-related corruption has worsened in the last year (compared to 17 percent in November 2016).

Despite the peaceful presidential election in March 2017, the poll reflects continued anxieties over the prospect of electoral violence. A combined 68 percent are “very” (53 percent) or “somewhat” (15 percent) concerned about this possibility, despite the fact that 96 percent confirmed that they did not observe any violence during the most recent election. 

Methodology

This survey was conducted by INSIGHT Lda. under the supervision of Chariot Associates LLC and the Center for Insights in Survey Research between April 17 and May 14, 2017. Data was collected through in-person, in-home interviews in both urban and rural locations. The sample consisted of 1,200 respondents (response rate: 99 percent) aged 17 and older, and is representative of voting-age adults nationally. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 2.8 percent at the mid-range with a confidence level of 95 percent. Figures in charts and tables may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.