Indonesia presidential contender Prabowo maintains slim lead in new survey

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto was top in a fourth opinion poll in the space of a week on Thursday, though only narrowly in front of the ruling party’s Ganjar Pranowo ahead of the start of campaigning next month.

Nearly 205 million Indonesians, a third of them younger than 30, are eligible to vote in presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 14 in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Three candidates have registered to contest the election: ex-special forces commander Prabowo, 72, and former provincial governor Ganjar and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, both 54.

The Oct. 16-20 poll of 2,567 people by Indikator Politik Indonesia had Prabowo top on 37%, with 34.8% backing Ganjar and 22% supporting Anies. The survey had a 1.97% margin of error.

The outcome tracks most polls in recent months that show Ganjar and Defence Minister Prabowo neck-and-neck, with Anies a distant third.

The latest survey was conducted after a widely criticised court ruling on candidates’ eligibility that effectively enabled Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the son of outgoing President Joko Widodo, to join Prabowo as his running mate.

Some political analysts see that outcome, just days before registration for the election, as advantageous to Jokowi, as the incumbent is known, allowing him to lay the foundations of a political dynasty and retain influence after leaving office.

With 36-year-old Gibran on board, Prabowo could also tap into some of the president’s huge support base, analysts say.

Jokowi, who is completing his second and final term, has said he has no involvement with presidential candidates.

Nearly 76% of those surveyed said Jokowi should not side with any particular candidate.

Indikator also gauged participants’ opinions on dynasties and found nearly 48% of respondents saw them as “very worrying” or “worrying enough”. The pollster said Gibran inclusion could therefore potentially cost Prabowo votes.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Martin Petty)