Jokowi widens lead in Indonesia election as voting day nears

Survey finds 71% of respondents quite satisfied with Jokowi’s performance and 66% believe in his ability to lead Indonesia

JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s lead over his challenger Prabowo Subianto widened to almost 26 points a month out from the country’s election, the latest pre-poll survey shows.

Widodo, also known as Jokowi, and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin would garner 57.6% of votes if elections were held in mid-March, up from 54.9% in a January survey. Meanwhile, Subianto, popularly known as Prabowo, and Sandiaga Uno would secure 31.8%, down from 32.1%, according to a survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting released on Sunday.

Indonesia’s presidential election is focused on the state of the economy, with Jokowi and Prabowo wooing voters with pledges to create more jobs, stable prices and bolster economic growth.

The incumbent, whose first term saw an ambitious multi-billion agenda to connect the country’s scattered islands, is now seeking to transform Indonesia from a commodity-reliant economy into a manufacturing power.

Although economic issues have taken centre stage, the campaign has also been marred by allegations that Jokowi is anti-Islamic, a Chinese sympathiser who has links to the banned Communist Party of Indonesia.

But a majority of the participants in the Saiful Mujani survey didn’t believe the “negative information” and endorsed the president for tackling the challenges of terrorist threats, drug trafficking, infrastructure development and rupiah volatility, the pollster said.

“If the presidential election is held in mid-March, it is almost certain that Jokowi-Ma’ruf will be elected as the president-vice-presidential pair,” Djayadi Hanan, director of Saiful Mujani, said in a statement on Sunday.

The survey of 2,820 respondents was held from Feb 24 to March 5 and has a 2% margin of error. The percentage of undecided voters declined to 10.6% from 13% in January’s survey.

Jokowi’s support increased as voters continued to be optimistic about economic conditions, the incumbent’s ability to lead the country, his performance in presidential debates and public’s disregard of “various lies and slander” about him, Saiful Mujani said.

The survey found 71% of the respondents were quite satisfied with Jokowi’s performance and 66% believe in his ability to lead Indonesia. Only 18%-19% said economic conditions were worse than a year ago. — Bloomberg