Indonesia’s opposition Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was leading on Wednesday’s parliamentary election, according to unofficial early results.
A victory by PDI-P would pave the way for the nomination of the popular governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, for the presidential election scheduled for July 9.
Preliminary projections of votes from a sample of polling stations showed the PDI-P leading with around 20 per cent, according to Indikator Politik, a leading pollster.
The Golkar Party was second with about 15 per cent, followed by Gerindra Party of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, at 12 per cent.
Other pollsters reported similar results. Official results will not be announced until May.
“I’m very confident my party will do very well,” Widodo said after casting his vote at a polling station in central Jakarta, where breakfast was served and a band played love songs.
Various surveys indicated Widodo would win the presidential election by a landslide.
Twelve national political parties were running, and in Aceh province another three local parties were also contesting the elections, the fourth since the world’s largest Muslim-majority country embraced democracy following the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998.
Indonesia is now the third biggest democracy after India and the United States.
With 500,000 polling stations spread across an archipelago of 17,000 islands, half of which are inhabited, the election was a huge logistical undertaking.
PDI-P injected fresh momentum into its campaign last month when it nominated Widodo as its candidate for the presidential elections.
A survey released last week by Indikator Politik suggested that nearly 51 per cent of voters would pick Widodo from the choice of four presidential hopefuls.
Widodo has a large lead over his closest rival Subianto, who was favoured by 17 per cent of respondents.
Widodo rose to political prominence as the mayor of Solo in Central Java province, where he introduced a series of policies including free health care and education.
He won the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2012 and has since built a reputation as a capable and hands—on leader with a common touch through his frequent visits to the capital’s poor neighbourhoods.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cannot run again after two terms in office and his ruling Democratic Party is expected to suffer following a series of corruption scandals involving its senior politicians.
Nearly 186 million voters are registered with the General Elections Commission for the legislative elections, with the turnout predicted to be around 80 per cent.
About 56 million — or around 30 per cent — of the voters are between the ages of 17 and 29, many of them casting ballots for the first time.
More than 235,000 candidates are competing for 560 seats in the House of Representatives, 132 seats in the upper chamber Regional Representative Council, 2,137 seats in provincial legislative councils and 17,560 seats in district and municipal councils.
A party, or coalition of parties, must win 20 per cent of parliament seats or 25 per cent of the popular vote to be able to nominate a presidential candidate.
Islamic parties are expected to lose some support in the elections as voters are distancing themselves from identity politics, analysts said.
Religious parties won a combined 29 per cent of the vote in the 2009 elections.