What is at stake as Indonesia votes?

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An Indonesian election official holds a poster featuring candidates for Jakarta parliament members ahead of legislative polls in Jakarta on 8 April 2014Image source, AFP
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More than 186 million Indonesians are expected to cast ballots

The world's third largest democracy goes to the polls on Wednesday to elect some 20,000 national and regional legislators.

What's at stake?

The 9 April election combines polls for the 560 seats in parliament's lower house, or the People's Representative Council (DPR), and for the 132 seats of the Regional Representative Council (DPD).

Indonesians also cast their ballots for 2,112 seats on provincial-level assemblies and 16,895 seats on regency-level assemblies, according to the Election Commission.

But for many the biggest consideration will be looking ahead to the presidential election on 9 July. Parties need 20% of seats in the lower house or 25% of the vote to field a candidate.

Who's running?

Twelve parties will contest the elections nationally, with three more running only in the province of Aceh. This represents a major fall in party numbers since the 2009 elections, in which 38 parties ran.

Image source, AFP
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Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo is expected by many to become Indonesia's next president

All opinion polls have two opposition parties, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar, as the likely major parties in parliament. The ruling Democratic Party of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appears set to lose support.

The Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) boasts a leader, Prabowo Subianto, who is being touted as a possible presidential candidate but in order to gain anything like a majority in the DPR Gerindra would need to put together a complicated coalition.

Which candidates have caught the media's eye?

Eyes will be on Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, the presidential candidate of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P). Many expect him to be Indonesia's next president.

Otherwise, two very different groups of candidates have dominated media coverage - media owners and "caleg cantik".

The trend of media owners pursuing political ambitions has seen figures like Surya Paloh - owner of the daily Media Indonesia and the 24-hour news channel Metro TV - form his own National Democrat (NasDem) party, and Aburizal Bakrie - owner of the Viva group, which runs national TV networks antv and tvOne - running for Golkar's nomination.

In another trend, the Election Commission's rule stating that 30% of each party's candidate's should be women has led to the rise of the "caleg cantik" ("hot hopefuls") phenomenon, in which young, recognisable female celebrities stand as party candidates.

Who will be voting?

The Election Commission has announced that 186,569,233 people are registered to vote in this election; according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics .

A total of 54,163,376 Indonesians are between the ages of 17 and 29. Millions of young people will be casting their ballots for the first time.

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