Jakarta: Indonesia`s main opposition party was on course to win most votes on Wednesday in Parliamentary Elections and strengthen the chances of its popular candidate, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, in an upcoming presidential poll.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) had around 19 percent of the national vote, according to unofficial tallies, with more than 80 percent of a sample of votes counted.
However that figure is lower than recent surveys had predicted and, if confirmed, could make it harder than expected for Widodo -- seen as a fresh face in a country still dominated by figures from the autocratic Suharto era -- to become president.
Nevertheless the 52-year-old seemed happy with his party`s showing, telling reporters: "Thanks be to God that the people have put their trust in the PDI-P."
The Democratic Party of current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono looked on course for a huge loss, with the tallies giving it around 10 per cent, half its share in the 2009 Legislative Elections.
Millions earlier streamed to polling stations across the huge archipelago, which stretches across three time zones from remote and mountainous Papua in the east to the crowded main island of Java and to Sumatra in the west.
"We hope for representatives who care about our interests rather than their own. I`ve picked the most honest and fair candidates," Ilyas Hasan, 43, told AFP in Jayapura, the capital of deeply poor Papua province.
Some 186 million people were eligible to vote for around 230,000 candidates competing for about 20,000 seats in national and regional legislatures, though the most important vote is for the lower house of the national Parliament.
Today`s polls determine who can run in presidential elections in July and all eyes are on frontrunner Widodo and the PDI-P, which has long been tipped to win the biggest share of the vote.
Early counts showed the party getting lower than recent predictions of around 25 percent.
By early evening, the PDI-P was on 19.5 percent of the vote, according to one unofficial tally, known as a "quick count", by pollster Indonesia Survey Circle. It had so far counted about 82 percent of a sample of votes from some 2,000 polling stations.
A tally from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies gave the party 19.1 percent, with about 85 percent of a sample of votes counted at some 2,000 polling stations.
A party needs 25 percent of the national vote or 20 percent of the seats in the lower house of Parliament to be able to field a presidential candidate on its own.