Jokowi holds on to lead ahead of Indonesia presidential vote: poll

JAKARTA Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:43am EDT

A woman walks past a poster of Indonesia's presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto (L) and Joko Widodo during a debate in Jakarta June 15, 2014.  REUTERS/Beawiharta

A woman walks past a poster of Indonesia's presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto (L) and Joko Widodo during a debate in Jakarta June 15, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Beawiharta

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is holding on to his strong lead in the race to become Indonesia's next president though it is narrowing ahead of the July 9 vote, a new opinion poll showed on Friday.

Analysts say Jokowi has been hit by an aggressive negative campaign by supporters of ex-general Prabowo Subianto, his only rival. The possibility of a win by the heavily nationalist Prabowo has unnerved investors and weighed on an already weakening rupiah, which is now around 4-month lows against the dollar.

The state-funded Indonesian Institute of Sciences survey of 790 voters between June 5-24, found 43 percent support for Jokowi, 34 percent for Prabowo.

But illustrating how much is still to play for, it said 23 percent of voters have yet to make up their mind.

Jokowi's own campaign team says it is making a push in two or three major provinces which it believes could swing either way.

In particular, it sees Jokowi as vulnerable in the biggest province of West Java where conservative Muslim parties have strong influence and which are backing Prabowo.

Indonesia is home to the world's biggest Muslim population. The political party linked to the country's biggest Islamic group supports Jokowi, but three other Muslim-based parties are on the side of Prabowo.

The latest poll supports most other recent polls showing Jokowi ahead, but with the size of his lead narrowing. Most also show a sizeable percentage of undecided voters.

At stake is leadership of Southeast Asia's biggest economy whose rapid growth has begun to moderate in the face of declining prices for many of its major commodity exports.

The outgoing government has been criticised for failing to do enough to promote manufactured exports and make the economy less vulnerable to cyclical commodity prices or to cut into a huge fuel subsidy bill.

The cost of subsidising fast growing demand for fuel means that whoever does become president will have little room in the budget to implement many of their proposed policies. However, both candidates have pledged to cut back on the subsidies.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Fransiska Nangoy, Writing by Jonathan Thatcher)

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