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Jokowi hangs on to slim lead a day before poll

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Jokowi hangs on to slim lead a day before poll
3 survey institutes give Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo a lead of less than 5 points over Prabowo Subianto

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo holds on to a slim lead of less than 5 points over his rival according to 3 different survey institutes, a day before the country’s tightest election since the downfall of dictator Suharto.

A survey from Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting gave Jokowi a 2.7-point lead over former general Prabowo Subianto, while Charta Politika Indonesia’s latest survey gave him a 4.1-point lead. Both were released on Tuesday. (Check Rappler’s live blog for updates on the Indonesian election.) 

Charta Politika Indonesia predicts Jokowi-JK will win the 2014 presidential election by 4% to 8%,” institute director Yunarto Wijaya said, referring to Jokowi and his running mate Jusuf Kalla.

Bloomberg reported that Indonesia’s benchmark stocks gauge, the Jakarta Composite index, rose to 0.9 percent to 5035.495 as of 11:08 am local time on Tuesday — a one-year high — on speculation that Jokowi will win the election.

On Monday, Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) released its own survey showing a 3.6-point lead for the Jakarta governor. (READ: Jokowi rebound? New survey, social media say so)

The Saiful Mujani institute said that with the gap so narrow, the country’s third direct presidential election since the end of authoritarian rule in 1998 had become a test.

It warned there was the “potential for cheating” and that democracy “could collapse”, adding that: “The worst scenario is chaos.” (READ: Worries over violence as Indonesia heads to polls)

Saiful Mujani’s poll of 2,000 voters between June 30 and July 3 put Jokowi on top with 47.6%, to Prabowo’s 44.9%, with 7.5% undecided. It has a 2.2% margin of error.

Charta Politika’s survey of 1,200 voters from July 3-6 showed 49.2% for Jokowi and 45.1% for Prabowo, with 5.7% undecided. It has a 2.83% margin of error.

Prabowo’s camp, however, has posted on its Facebook page the results of 16 surveys – though mostly from lesser known institutes – that show the former general leading with 54.3% over Jokowi’s 37.6% as of July 6. 

Jokowi is from a new generation of political leaders without links to the authoritarian past, a stark contrast to Prabowo, who was a top military figure during Suharto’s 3-decade rule.

Up until several months ago, the 53-year-old former furniture businessman looked to be on a smooth path to the presidency, with polls giving him a lead of up to 30-percentage points over Prabowo.

But his support has shrunk dramatically in the face of a slick campaign by Prabowo and a flood of negative attacks.

Charta Politika’s survey showed that only 15.3% believed the negative attacks on Jokowi, while 28.5% were unsure. However, “people’s awareness of rumors that Jokowi is not Muslim is higher than of Prabowo’s involvement in May 1998,” Yunarto said.

About 9 out of 10 Indonesians are Muslim, and while Indonesia is a secular country, no non-Muslim has ever been elected president of the country before.  

Jokowi, a former furniture exporter, won huge popularity with his humble background and down-to-earth approach as Jakarta governor, and was credited with initiating projects to solve the capital’s myriad problems.

Prabowo, 63, has admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists in May 1998, used to be married to Suharto’s daughter, and critics fear he may shift Indonesia back towards authoritarian rule.

When Charta Politika asked respondents what immediately came to mind when they hear Prabowo, the answers were “tegas” (firm) and “berwibawa” (commanding or authoritative), as well as “general”. For Jokowi, it was “sederhana” (humble) and “blusukan” (the unannounced inspections or visits Jokowi is known for). – with reports from Agence France-Presse/ 

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