Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono\’s Democratic Party is leading the vote count after parliamentary elections, according to early unofficial tallies.
The independent Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) said the Democratic Party had 18.59 percent of the vote, ahead of Golkar with 15.89 percent and the main opposition Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 15.39 percent.
The survey used a sampling method based on a partial count from 2,100 ballot stations, a tiny fraction of the more than 500,000 stations spread across the archipelago.
LSI researcher Fauni Hidayat said so far only 10 percent of the survey\’s sample votes had been counted.
However, projections by the independent Indonesian Survey Institute also have the centrist Democrats winning 20.4 per cent of the votes.
The opposition Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of ex-president Megawati Sukarnoputri gained 14.6 per cent and Suharto\’s former ruling party, Golkar, was close behind with 14 per cent.
“At this stage the data is stable. The Democrats are the winning party with the most number of votes,” institute director Saiful Mujani told Metro TV television station.
Indonesians concerned on jobs amid crisis
Islamic parties were projected to win a total of just 25.7 per cent, their worst showing in the country\’s history as people focused on practical concerns like growth and jobs amid the global economic crisis.
It was the third general election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 ushered in a new era of reform, turning Indonesia into the world\’s third-largest democracy, after India and the United States.
Final official results from across the archipelago\’s 6,000 inhabited islands could take weeks to tally, and the shape of the new government will not be known until after presidential elections in July.
Vote outcome decisive for future presidential elections
The outcome of the vote will be crucial for parties hoping to field a candidate in the more important presidential polls, when liberal ex-general Yudhoyono will seek a second five-year term.
Parties must hold 20 per cent of seats in the 560-seat lower house or 25 per cent of the popular vote to nominate a presidential candidate on their own, otherwise they must team up with coalition partners.
“We will start tomorrow engaging in political communications (with other parties),” Yudhoyono told reporters after the close of polls.
Carefully avoiding any claim to victory, he added: “We will see what kind of coalition we have and how many presidential candidates meet the requirements.”
Elections relatively peaceful
The election was peaceful except for a series of attacks overnight Wednesday by suspected separatist rebels in eastern Papua province, where some members of the indigenous Melanesian majority want to split from Indonesia.
Five people were killed in the attacks which including a raid by suspected separatist guerrillas armed with arrows and bombs on a police post near the capital Jayapura.
No unrest was reported in Aceh province, where a 30-year separatist conflict ended only four years ago and fears of violence were high after several ex-rebels were murdered in the lead-up to the election.
Indonesia\’s democratic reforms \’on track\’
Analysts said that while many of the old guard from the Suharto days remained entrenched in the country\’s political elite, the election was further proof that Indonesia\’s democratic reforms were on track.
It was only a decade ago, with the Suharto regime in ruins and the economy ravaged by the Asian financial crisis, that Indonesia was seen as teetering on the brink of disintegration.
Now it is being viewed as an example of stability in Southeast Asia, where democracy is on the back foot in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, analysts said.
“For me this is a big day that we have managed to come this far with our new democracy, which in fact is not just surviving but stabilising,” political analyst Wimar Witoelar told AFP.