World

Widodo holds double-digit lead over challenger

JAKARTA With just over a month to go to an Indonesian election, President Joko Widodo holds a double-digit lead over his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, according to an opinion poll released this week.

The April 17 election looks like it will be a re-run of the 2014 race, which saw Mr Joko beat Mr Prabowo by almost six percentage points.

Mr Joko appears to be enjoying an advantage as the incumbent this time, with several recent surveys showing him likely to win about 55 per cent of the vote, while Mr Prabowo trails with about 32 per cent.

The number of undecided voters had dwindled to about 13 per cent from nearly 25 per cent a few months ago, Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) said in a survey conducted at the end of January and released this week.

"There is no element of surprise that's hard to quantify in this election.

"The economy, politics and security are stable so it's hard to see any significant game changer in the next month," said SMRC researcher Djayadi Hanan.

Several other pollsters also showed Mr Joko with a similar lead over his rival based on surveys conducted in January.

Mr Joko saw a strong lead nearly wiped out in the last election amid a smear campaign of false accusations that he was not a Muslim and the son of Chinese communists - both sensitive issues in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

To bolster his religious credentials, Mr Joko has picked as his running mate a senior Muslim cleric, Ma'ruf Amin. - REUTERS

WORLD