POLITIC - JAKARTA. Indonesian defence minister and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto has extended a commanding lead in the polls ahead of February's election, with a series of recent surveys showing the former general now has a more than 20-point lead.
The latest poll, released by Kompas on Monday, showed that Prabowo and his running mate, President Joko Widodo's 36-year-old son Gibran Rakabuming, garnered 39.3% of the vote.
The survey placed former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan as his closest opponent with 16.7%, followed by Ganjar Pranowo with 15.3%.
This is the first time a poll has shown Anies surpassing Ganjar, and reflects a rising trajectory indicated by other recent polls.
Two surveys released during the weekend by separate pollsters, Indikator Politik and Lembaga Survei Indonesia, also show Prabowo extending his lead, with 45.8% and 45.6% of the vote respectively.
Both polls show Prabowo more than 20 percentage points in front of his closest opponents.
The results come just weeks after campaigning officially kicked off and the first presidential debate, focused on law, democracy and human rights, takes place on Tuesday.
A decision by the country's constitutional court this October that paved the way for the president's eldest son to run in the elections has sparked widespread outcry about the deepening of dynastic and patronage politics in the world's third-largest democracy.
But the polls show the criticism has not dented the popularity of Prabowo, who is carving out a new image as a cute and cat-loving uncle with a penchant for spontaneous Javanese dance, clips of which have gone viral on TikTok.
Prabowo is accused of human rights abuses in East Timor and of being involved in the kidnapping of 13 student activists in 1998. He has denied all of those claims.
Indonesia's presidential election is scheduled for February 14, 2024. If no candidate secures a majority, the vote will go to a second round in June.