Indonesia’s Prabowo strengthens lead in election polls

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s presidential candidate frontrunner Prabowo Subianto widened his lead over his opponents in the latest surveys as the world’s third-largest democracy heads to an election on Feb. 14, two pollsters said on Saturday.

Based on a survey conducted between Jan 10 and 16, 48.6% of voters polled supported defence minister Prabowo and his vice presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, eldest son of President Joko Widodo, polling company Indikator Politik Indonesia said.

The number of his supporters increased having been unchanged at around 45.8% in the two previous surveys by Indikator.

Prabowo widened his lead over former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, in Indikator’s survey, despite coming under attack in a Jan. 7 televised presidential debate where his opponents took aim at his military procurement strategy as defence minister.

Support for Anies eased to 24.2% from 25.5% in the previous survey on Dec. 30 to Jan 6, while backing for Ganjar slid to 21.6% from 23%.

Pollster Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) said based on a telephone survey conducted on Jan 10-11, Prabowo has 47% support, up from 45.6% in the previous poll.

Support for Anies rose slightly to 23.2% from 22.3%, but Ganjar’s backing slid to 21.7% from 23.8%, LSI said.

Both Indikator and LSI said the possibility remains of the election going into a second round as despite Prabowo’s wide lead he has not yet secured the necessary votes to win in the first round.

If no candidate secures votes from more than half of the 205 million eligible voters, a runoff will be held on June 26.

(Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by David Holmes)