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Indonesians Vote in Parliamentary Elections

Indonesians voted Thursday in legislative elections across the vast nation of islands. Results are not yet in, but opinion polls show President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party may be the big winner.

People crowded in front of polling stations, early Thursday, to cast their votes for local and national lawmakers.

As election organizers announced the start of voting at a station in the capital, Jakarta, lines were formed and names called.

Some complain ballots are too big

The orderly process masked the challenges and criticism Indonesia has faced in organizing these massive elections.

The only signs of problems were the many voters who needed help to fold their beach-towel-sized ballots and push them through the skinny slots in metal voting boxes.

Lwan Sukawana, 44, voiced his complaint about the election.

He says it is a bit more difficult for him. He says, in the past, he only chose among a few candidates, but today there are so many options and he has to make too many marks on the ballot.

Indonesia is the world's third largest democracy, after India and the United States.

About 170-million people are eligible to vote for their choices among tens of thousands of candidates.

Polls favor president

Opinion polls indicate the Democratic party of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to win the most votes, increasing its base of support.

This is only the third legislative election since the 1998 fall of Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for more than 30 years, before the economy collapsed.

Indonesia is now Southeast Asia's biggest economy. However, many Indonesians still live in poverty.

Like other Indonesians voting Thursday, Heriyadi Kurniawan will not say who he voted for, but does say what he wants his vote to accomplish.

He says he hopes his vote can make a difference for average people, so they can at least have basic education and health care. He says this is most important for Indonesia because education is still expensive.

Violence marred campaign

Campaigning for the elections was marred by what analysts say were politically-motivated assassinations in restive Aceh province. Authorities in Papua say attacks by rebels left six people dead, before voting stations opened, Thursday.

Concerns about violence, vote-rigging and vote-buying were largely forgotten by the time Indonesians cast their votes.

But new election rules have raised the threshold for winning legislative seats and fielding a candidate for the more-important presidential election in July.

Those political parties that are just under the required number of votes could contest elections, possibly delaying official results and the presidential election.