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Indonesia’s Prabowo stretches lead in new survey on presidential contenders

JAKARTA – Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has opened up a wide lead over his closest rival in a new opinion poll, despite controversy over his decision to pick outgoing leader Joko Widodo’s son as his running mate.

An Oct 27 to Nov 1 survey of 1,220 people released on Sunday by Indikator Politik Indonesia showed 39.7 per cent of respondents would vote for third-time presidential contender Mr Prabowo, while 30 per cent would back the ruling party’s Mr Ganjar Pranowo.

Indikator’s most recent polls have had the two neck and neck, with Defence Minister Prabowo at 36.1 per cent and former Central Java governor Ganjar on 33.7 per cent in its survey released on Oct 26. Former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan remained a distant third.

About 205 million of Indonesia’s population of more than 270 million are eligible to vote in elections on Feb 14, which will decide who will succeed Mr Jokowi, as the president is known, after a decade in power.

The latest surveys were conducted when headlines were dominated by the entry into the race of Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Mr Widodo’s 36-year-old son, after a Constitutional Court ruling days earlier that a minimum age requirement of 40 need not apply to all candidates.

Some political analysts see Mr Gibran’s inclusion as a strategy to help Mr Widodo retain political influence and allow political heavyweight Mr Prabowo to get elected by tapping the outgoing leader’s huge support base.

Mr Widodo was accused by critics of influencing the court led by his brother-in-law, who was last week found guilty by a judicial panel of ethics violations in failing to recuse himself from a ruling that favoured his nephew. Mr Widodo has declined to comment on accusations he interfered.

A survey published last week by pollster Charta Politika had Mr Ganjar with a slim lead over Mr Prabowo and some dissatisfaction about Mr Widodo’s role in the presidential race, and alleged interference in the court ruling.

“Gibran’s inclusion is like a double-edged-sword. He could be an asset and liability,” said Indikator’s executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi.

The latest poll outcome reflected a sizable jump in younger voters and Mr Widodo loyalists deciding to back Mr Prabowo, helped by Mr Gibran joining the ticket, Mr Burhanuddin said, adding the survey also showed respondents were not overly concerned about political dynasties. REUTERS

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