Indonesia presidential contender Ganjar takes slim lead in new poll

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian presidential hopeful Ganjar Pranowo led an opinion poll on Monday for the first time since election season formally got underway last month, nudging ahead of close rival and defence minister Prabowo Subianto.

The Oct. 26-31 survey by Charta Politika showed 36.8% of the 2,400 respondents backed the ruling party’s Ganjar while 34.7% supported Prabowo, with 24.3% in favour of Anies Baswedan, Jakarta’s former governor.

Prabowo, who is making a third run at the presidency, has held a slim lead over former Central Java governor Ganjar in most polls in the past few months, with the two neck-and-neck for much of the year. Charta Politika’s surveys since 2021 have mostly put Ganjar in the lead.

The poll also showed some dissatisfaction about outgoing leader Joko Widodo’s role in the presidential race, in particular a perception of his involvement in a controversial court ruling on eligibility requirements that allowed his son to become Prabowo’s running mate.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, has declined to comment on last month’s decision of the Constitutional Court, of which his brother-in-law is chief justice.

Nearly 40% of those surveyed said they believed Jokowi had influenced the court’s decision, while 23.3% did not agree and 37% did not answer or said they did not know.

Nearly half of respondents felt his 36-year-old son Gibran Rakabuming Raka would be unsuitable for vice president, while 59% said they disagreed with political dynasties.

Nearly 205 million of Indonesia’s more than 270 million population are eligible to vote in the elections on Feb. 14 in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Jokowi is finishing his second and final term and has not formally backed a candidate, though some political insiders say he is quietly playing the role of kingmaker to try to retain influence when he leaves office, having previously pledged support for Ganjar while tacitly backing Prabowo.

Jokowi recently said he would not get involved in the race.

Some political experts see the inclusion of Gibran as a move to enable the outgoing president to keep some political clout while allowing Prabowo to tap into Jokowi’s huge support base.

However, Yunarto Wijaya, executive director of Charta Politika said Prabowo’s decision to run with the president’s son had contributed to Ganjar’s lead in the latest poll.

“Gibran has weakened Prabowo, the issue of dynastic politics, Jokowi, his family, the court’s ruling,” Yunarto said.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Ananda Teresia; Editing by Martin Petty)