Prabowo Subianto widens lead in Indonesia presidential race, poll shows

Arie Firdaus
Prabowo Subianto widens lead in Indonesia presidential race, poll shows Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (right) and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the eldest son of President Joko Widodo, greet supporters upon arriving to register their candidacies for the 2024 election, at the General Election Commission building in Jakarta, Oct. 25, 2023.
Achmad Ibrahim/AP

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has increased the lead over his closest competitor in a new opinion poll after picking the president’s son as his running mate, analysts said Monday. 

Prabowo, a former army general who serves as the defense minister in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s second administration, leads the race with 40.6% support, according to figures released on Sunday by pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia. 

He is followed by Ganjar Pranowo, the ex-governor of Central Java, who has 27.8% support and former Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan, who has 23.7%. The poll was conducted from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1 based on 1,220 respondents in 38 provinces.

Another survey, that was released by Poltracking Indonesia on Friday, showed that Prabowo had 41.7% of the vote, while Ganjar had 31%, and Anies had 25.7%. This was a significant increase from September, when Prabowo and Ganjar were running neck and neck.

Prabowo’s support appears to have grown thanks to his alliance with Jokowi’s eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is the mayor of Solo, said Dominique Nicky Fahrizal, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. 

“For Jokowi’s ardent supporters, it is clear where his support goes,” Dominique told BenarNews.

Burhanuddin Muhtadi, the founder of Indikator Politik, agreed about the apparent change in the polls.

“Ganjar’s vote shrinkage is most likely attributed to Jokowi’s supporters who now back Prabowo,” Burhanuddin said.

Jokowi, 62, who is due to leave office next October because of term limits, defeated Prabowo in the two previous presidential elections and has been in power since 2014. 

Ganjar Pranowo, presidential candidate of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, greets supporters upon arriving to register his candidacy to run in the 2024 presidential election, at the General Election Commission building in Jakarta, Oct. 19, 2023. [Achmad Ibrahim/AP]

On Monday, the election commission certified that the three candidates would compete in the Feb. 14 presidential election after they met all the registration requirements. 

The commission will determine the candidates’ order on the ballot in a draw on Tuesday, Antara, Indonesia’s state news agency, reported.

Prabowo, 72, is a former son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto and an ex-commander of the army’s special forces. He has been accused of human rights violations during his military career, which he has denied.

Despite criticism of his choice of running mate and the two previous elections, Prabowo has an ally in Jokowi, who appointed him to oversee the nation’s defense and has expressed support for his son’s candidacy.

Presidential candidate Anies Baswedan (foreground right) walks with running mate Muhaimin Iskandar (foreground left) upon arriving to register to run in next year’s election, at the General Election Commission building in Jakarta, Oct. 19, 2023. [Tatan Syuflana/AP]

Last week, an ethics body at the Constitutional Court dismissed Chief Justice Anwar Usman, Jokowi’s brother-in-law, over ethical violations tied to an Oct. 16 ruling that allowed Gibran, 36, to seek the national office as a vice-presidential candidate.

In response to a petition challenging an age requirement of 40 for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Anwar upheld the requirement with an exception for candidates who had previously held or been elected regional leaders.

The ethics council said Anwar was “guilty of violating the principles of impartiality, integrity and independence.” Still, he can serve on the court as a judge and his ruling is binding.

Six days later, Prabowo picked Gibran as his running mate.

Nepotism is an issue for ‘elite’

Questions have trailed Jokowi in recent months about whether he is building a political dynasty by promoting his family members and loyalists to government roles. 

Jokowi’s other son, Kaesang Pangarep, was recently appointed chairman of the youth-oriented Indonesian Solidarity Party days after joining the organization.

Playing down such concerns, Jokowi last week likened the brouhaha to Korean soap operas.

Most voters do not care about nepotism and dynastic politics, and they will follow Jokowi’s implied endorsement of Prabowo and Gibran, analysts said.

“Those are only problems for the elite and the educated. For the lower class, they don’t matter,” said Ujang Komarudin, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University in Jakarta.

Indikator’s Burhanuddin agreed with the assessment, saying his survey showed that dynastic politics was not a major concern for voters.

“In fact, there is a tendency for people to be slightly more tolerant or not worried (about dynastic politics),” he said.

Workers arrange folded ballot boxes at a General Elections Commission warehouse in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 3, 2023. [Devi Rahman/AFP]

The presidential race has already been marked by accusations of bias and intimidation from some of the contenders.

On Saturday, Ganjar’s campaign claimed that some law enforcement officials were favoring Prabowo and Gibran. Spokesman Aiman Witjaksono alleged that some officials were instructed to install billboards supporting Prabowo and Gibran.

“I hope my suspicion is wrong, but if I look at some indications that occur in the regions, it’s hard to say there is nothing here,” Aiman told local website SINDOnews.

Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, Prabowo’s national campaign team coordinator, dismissed those allegations. 

“The rise in their popularity is not due to any police officers who put up Prabowo-Gibran billboards,” he told the news website. “Such a cheating method is not logical for us to achieve victory.”

The national police said they were committed to neutrality.

“If there are any findings like that, we will take firm action according to the applicable regulations,” spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said.


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