Indonesians have voted in a general election that could play a key role in an upcoming presidential ballot in June. Early unofficial results pointed to a smaller margin of victory than predicted for the opposition PDI-P.
Two unofficial preliminary tallies, dubbed "quick counts," put the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) party in first place on Wednesday with between 19 and 20 percent of the vote.
Surveys conducted prior to the vote had suggested a better PDI-P performance.
Definitive results ofan election where 186 million people on 17,000 islands were eligible to vote
are not expected until May.
Turnout during Wednesday's polling appeared to be slightly lower than the roughly 70 percent achieved in Indonesia's last general election in 2009.
The preliminary figures put the Golkar party, the former party of authoritarian President Haji Mohamed Suharto, in second place on around 15 percent. The Gerindra party stood in third on around 12 percent.
Jakarta's Jokowi seen as presidential favorite
Wednesday's polls will help determine who can run for the presidency in elections this July, with the PDI-P's Jakarta governor, Joko Widodo (pictured), emerging as the front-runner.
Known by his nickname "Jokowi," the popular former furniture business owner rose to the top job in the Indonesian capital in 2012.
Many pollsters pointed to the 52-year-old as a major contributor to the success of the PDI-P nationally.
"I'm very confident. My party will do very well," Jokowi told reporters in English after casting his ballot with his wife in Jakarta.
Go-it-alone nomination in question
The preliminary results on Wednesday suggested that one election goal for the PDI-P might not be achieved. The party would have needed 25 percent of the votes, or 20 percent of the parliamentary seats, in order to nominate Jokowi for the presidency by themselves.
Without this share of the vote, which some pollstersexpected the PDI-P to attain
, the party would need to form a coalition with one or more of the other 11 parties competing in Wednesday's parliamentary election.
Indonesian voters have elected four different presidents and repeatedly crowned new leading parties over the 16 years since the end of Haji Mohamed Suharto's authoritarian leadership.
msh/ipj (AFP, Reuters)