[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Indonesian voters go to polls
Election official prepares ballot boxes
More than 600,000 polling booths were needed
Indonesia has staged what has been described as the world's most ambitious and complicated single-day election.

The country's 147m voters have been choosing four levels of government - the national parliament and three tiers of local officials.

Opinion polls suggested that Golkar, the party which backed ousted president Suharto, could emerge as the biggest party in parliament.

The results could have a big impact on presidential elections later this year.

Polls closed at 1pm local time (0600 GMT). Some districts may announce their winners on Monday, but official results are not due to be announced before 28 April.

Disappointment

The BBC's correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey, says that Golkar's apparent resurgence is due to economic hardship and security concerns which have led to a degree of nostalgia for the certainties of the past.

Added to that is a growing sense of disappointment with President Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which critics say has failed to push ahead with promised reforms.

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

President Megawati faces re-election herself in July, with the polls suggesting her personal popularity is also slipping.

She could now face a strong challenge from her former security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who resigned from the cabinet last month.

He has set up his own party, the Democrat Party, and polls have shown that he has replaced Ms Megawati as the favourite candidate for winning the presidency.

However, his eligibility for the presidential election depends on the performance of his party in the parliamentary elections, which are being contested by 24 different parties.

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.

Opinion polls have suggested that no party will win an overall majority in the national parliament. But they have shown that the Golkar Party could overtake Ms Megawati's PDI-P as the largest parliamentary grouping.

Golkar claims to have embraced democracy and reform, six years after President Suharto was forced out of office because of mass demonstrations against corruption.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"There are a good few weeks of political uncertainty ahead"



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Indonesia votes
05 Apr 04  |  Photo Gallery
Indonesia minister offers to quit
11 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's packed election year
19 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Female quotas for Indonesia poll
19 Feb 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


RELATED BBCi LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific