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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 April, 2004, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Indonesia vote too close to call
Megawati Sukarnoputri
Initial results appear to spell trouble for President Megawati
Indonesia's two biggest political parties are neck and neck as results trickle in from general elections.

With about a quarter of votes counted, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P party had 21% of the votes, while the former ruling party Golkar had 20%.

But attention was fixed on two smaller parties, whose strong showing could affect July's presidential election.

The results also suggested a swing away from Mrs Megawati's party, amid disappointment on promised reforms.

Monday's elections saw the country's estimated 147 million voters choose four levels of government - the national parliament and three tiers of local officials. It was the second election in Indonesia since the former dictator Suharto lost power in 1998.

Visitors to a vote counting centre watch a monitor displaying the results of the votes that have been counted so far
Computer glitches are slowing the counting

Official results are not due to be announced before 28 April, slowed by computer glitches and Indonesia's size and remote geography.

Opinion polls suggest the two main parties are set to continue to fight for first place.

But the PDI-P, which won 34% of the vote in the last parliamentary elections in 1999, looks set to lose support.

Golkar - which ran Indonesia for more than 30 years under President Suharto - looks set to retain roughly the same share it garnered in 1999.

ELECTION SCHEDULE
5 April - Legislative polls, contested by 24 parties
July - Presidential poll, contested by parties that win at least 3% of seats in legislative polls
September - Possible run-off if no-one wins 50% of total and 20% of votes in at least half the provinces

The party currently in third place is the National Awakening Party, led by former President Abdurrahman Wahid, which is holding about 13% of the vote.

Mr Wahid alleged in a local radio interview on Thursday that the election process had been marred by "widespread fraud", saying the computerised tally system was flawed.

But the European Union monitoring team in Indonesia has described the election as generally transparent and peaceful, although it did identify some administrative problems, in particular with the production and distribution of ballot papers.

The BBC's correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey, says that Indonesia's general election was the biggest and most complex ever organised in a single day anywhere in the world and therefore there were bound to be some shortcomings.

Surprise players

A new party which is making strong gains is the Democrat Party, co-founded by former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Its current vote share, of about 9%, is more than enough to allow the party to field Mr Yudhoyono as a presidential candidate.

Polls have also shown that he has replaced Mrs Megawati as the favourite to win the presidency.

Another new party scoring well is the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a conservative Islamic group which has vowed to stamp out corruption.

"This is a wake-up call to the established parties that people are not happy with the way things have been going for the past five years," said political analyst Dewi Fortuna Anwar.

Only parties or coalitions that get more that 5% of the vote or 3% of the 550 seats will be allowed to field candidates for the presidential election, the first round of which is due on 5 July.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"It's still a neck and neck race"



SEE ALSO:
Indonesian voters go to polls
05 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Indonesia votes
05 Apr 04  |  Photo Gallery
Indonesia's packed election year
19 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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