Survey shows Indonesian presidential candidates neck-and-neck

20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's upcoming presidential election will be a close contest between two popular candidates, the country's defence minister and a governor of one of its most populous provinces, an opinion survey showed on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo have dominated opinion polls in the run up to the Feb. 14, 2024 election, while former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan trails in third place. The candidates are expected to formally register between October and November.

A Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) poll found that 37% of 1,220 respondents polled in early August would vote for Ganjar, a 1.3-point advantage over Prabowo. About a fifth would vote for Anies, the poll showed.

But in a two-way runoff, Prabowo would win 47.3% support versus Ganjar's 42.2%, the poll found.

The margin of error was 2.9%.

With roughly six months to go before the election, more than 30% of respondents said they could still change their choice, meaning the race remains "dynamic," said LSI's Djayadi Hanan.

Analysts are closely watching which candidate will receive the backing of President Joko Widodo, who, as the first leader to hail from outside the country's political and military elite, has built great cachet with voters during his 10 years in office.

A recent poll by Indikator Politik Indonesia put Jokowi's approval rating above 80%.

As a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Jokowi, as the president is known, has said he backs the party's candidate, Ganjar.

But in recent months, he has also hinted at support for Prabowo, an ex-special forces general whom he defeated in the last two presidential elections in 2014 and 2019.

Tensions between Jokowi and the PDI-P chief Megawati Sukarnoputri, and his more frequent public appearances with Prabowo have led analysts to suggest the incumbent is still mulling over who to ultimately back.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Additional reporting by Kate Lamb; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)