Timor-Leste: Poll Reveals Widespread Optimism, Overwhelming Intent to Vote in Upcoming Elections

Dili, Timor-Leste—A nationwide poll released today by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research indicates that survey respondents are optimistic about the country’s future prospects and committed to participating in the democratic process.

“The optimistic outlook and enthusiasm for democracy displayed in this poll are highly encouraging,” said IRI Regional Director for Asia, Derek Luyten. “Ahead of the upcoming presidential election, it is crucial that Timorese political leaders seize upon this popular goodwill to address the issues of greatest concern to citizens, and take steps to ensure citizens are well-informed of how and when to vote.”

Seventy-two percent of respondents think that Timor-Leste will be better off in the coming year, and nearly half (49 percent) feel the country is going in the right direction. A remarkable 98 percent of respondents indicated that they intend to vote in the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections. However, although 53 percent of respondents stated that they have “a great deal of information” regarding the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections, 75 percent said they need more information about when to register to vote, 71 percent need more information on how to register, and 77 percent need more information on where to register.  

The poll reflects a general attitude of goodwill towards the Timorese government: a combined 74 percent think the government is doing either a “very good” (29 percent) or “good” (45 percent) job. Forty-four percent of respondents identified themselves as either belonging to or associated with the FRETILIN party, which is currently part of the coalition government, and 75 percent have a “very favorable” view of the party.

The quality of Timorese roads ranked as the most important issue facing the country (29 percent), consistent with IRI’s previous poll conducted in October 2013 (25 percent). Only 29 percent of respondents feel the roads have improved in the past year, while 32 percent believe the roads have become worse. In comparison, a high number of respondents feel healthcare (79 percent), education (78 percent), and electricity (71 percent) have improved in the last year.

Despite the fact that there were few incidents of violence in the 2012 elections, 66 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned” that violence might take place in their district during the 2017 elections. Timor-Leste has experienced incidents of electoral violence in the past, most notably during the 2007 parliamentary elections.


This survey was conducted by INSIGHT Lda., based in Dili, Timor-Leste, under the supervision of Chesapeake Beach Consulting and IRI between November 7 and November 24, 2016.  The 2013 data is derived from an IRI survey conducted from September 18 to October 19, 2013 and the 2008 data is taken from an IRI survey conducted between November 10 and December 16, 2008.

Data was collected through in-person, in-home interviews in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste.  The sample consisted of 1,200 respondents age 17 and older, and was representative of voting-age adults nationally, with a 99 percent response rate. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 2.9 percent at the mid-range with a confidence level of 95 percent. The information in this report has been compiled in accordance with international standards for market and social research methodologies.  Figures in charts and tables may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.


Read the poll in Portuguese

Read the poll in Tetun

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