Five things to know about Indonesia's legislative election today

A woman places a hand on a list of candidates for members of parliament at a polling station during voting for parliamentary elections in Jakarta April 9, 2014. Indonesians are directly voting for their representatives in 19,699 legislative seat
A woman places a hand on a list of candidates for members of parliament at a polling station during voting for parliamentary elections in Jakarta April 9, 2014. Indonesians are directly voting for their representatives in 19,699 legislative seats at three levels - national, provincial and district. Close to 200,000 candidates are contesting the polls. They include some 6,600 candidates from 12 national political parties vying for a place in the 560-seat national Parliament. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

1. What is the election about?Indonesians are directly voting for their representatives in 19,699 legislative seats at three levels - national, provincial and district.

Close to 200,000 candidates are contesting the polls. They include some 6,600 candidates from 12 national political parties vying for a place in the 560-seat national Parliament.

To win seats at the national level, parties must win at least 3.5 per cent of total votes nationwide. This is to ensure the parties are able to command broad support.

The results will have a bearing on the presidential election in July. Presidential candidates can be nominated only by parties or coalitions that won at least 20 per cent of Parliament seats or 25 per cent of the national vote. 

2. Who are the front runners?

The top two winners are tipped to be the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri whose father, Sukarno, still appears on many party posters, and the Golkar party of former president Suharto. 

The PDI-P has been boosted by the popularity of its presidential candidate Joko Widodo, whose anti-graft stance and common touch as Jakarta governor has won him many supporters.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party faces an uphill climb as its image has been battered by graft scandals that brought down a minister and several party leaders. 

The fortunes of Islamic parties are also tipped to wane amid recent graft scandals, but they are expected to net at least 20 per cent of the vote in a nation with deeply conservative elements.

3. What is the electorate profile?

Indonesia has 186 million eligible voters out of a population of 250 million, making the country the world's third largest democracy after India and the United States. 

Almost a third of all voters - 54 million of them - are aged between 17 and 29. This is a significant proportion considering Dr Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party won only 21 per cent of the vote to finish first in the 2009 general election. 

Voting is not compulsory in Indonesia. The turnout for the parliamentary election slid from 93.3 per cent in 1999 to 71 per cent in 2009. 

4. When will the results be out?

The official results will be known only on May 9, a month from polling day. 

But quick counts done by agencies approved by the General Elections Commission, or KPU, will give an idea of how polling went. The earliest snapshots are expected at 2pm Singapore time today, two hours after polling ends in eastern Indonesia. 

Indonesia is among just a few South-east Asian countries that allow quick counts, seen as a step to instil confidence in cynical voters. 

5. How may the results affect Singapore?

Bilateral ties have generally been stable over the past 10 years. Observers say the strong people-to-people and business ties owe much to the stability of the Yudhoyono administration. How the relationship develops in future will depend very much on the incoming government.

The incoming leadership's management of the economy will also affect the prosperity of South-east Asia, because Indonesia’s economy is the region’s largest.

Go to ST Asia Report's Indonesia site for all the latest news and analysis on the polls.