Indonesia ruling party sides with presidential hopeful Prabowo: media

JAKARTA Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:36am EDT

Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta June 22, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta June 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's ruling Democratic Party, headed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said on Monday it was backing presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto ahead of next week's election, media said.

The world's third-largest democracy is due to choose a new leader on July 9 in what recent polls show will be a tight race between ex-general Prabowo and Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"The Democratic Party has decided and instructed its members to fully support and vote for Prabowo ... in the coming presidential election," said Syarief Hasan, head of the party's daily operations, as reported by Kompas website.

Hasan spoke at an event attended by senior party members, including Yudhoyono's son, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono. Support from the Democratic Party gives Prabowo's coalition the majority of the total votes from April's nationwide parliamentary election, outweighing Jokowi.

What is important is that the move also means Prabowo's coalition looks similar to Yudhoyono's incumbent ruling coalition, which in recent years has been hit by headline-grabbing corruption scandals and has been criticized for policy drift and indecisiveness.

The Democratic Party itself saw its support halve between 2009 and 2014 after its image was severely damaged by corruption cases involving senior members, including a cabinet minister.

The party, which got only 10 percent of votes in April, had initially decided to remain neutral, but changed its mind after support of senior members was divided between both candidates.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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