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President seeks coalition partners after election boost

Article published on the 2009-04-10 Latest update 2009-04-10 11:25 TU

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks to journalists at his home(Photo: Reuters)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks to journalists at his home
(Photo: Reuters)

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was trying to form a new coalition government on Friday, after Thursday's general election put his Democratic Party in the lead but without a clear majority.

Yudhoyono told reporters he wants a "strong coalition". On Friday he met leading members of his Democratic Party, which pollsters put in the lead.

With 44 parties standing for parliamentary seats, the latest estimates from the authoritative Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) give the Democratic Party 20.48 per cent, a leap from 7.5 per cent in 2004.

They give former President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) 14.5 per cent, down from 18.5 per cent, and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla's Golkar 13.95 per cent down from 21.6 per cent.

Official results will not be available for a month but other pollsters agree with the LSI's results for the leading parties.

The election also saw a slump in the share going to the country's several Islamic parties, who are believed to have won about 26 per cent of the vote altogether, the highest score being eight per cent for the Prosperous Justice Party.

Kalla on Friday congratulated Yudhoyono, telling him, "We win this together," according to his spokesperson Muklis Hasyim. 

The results leave the President able to form a new government and likely to renew his coalition with Golkar, ahead of July's presidential election.

With Golkar's disappointing result, the prospect of Kalla becoming Yudhoyono's running mate become stronger, while the PDI-P is struggling to find a credible candidate.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono, who is not a member of any party, said that the result was a tribute to the soft-spoken President's "character and integrity", according to the Jakarta Post.

Former separatist guerrillas claimed victory in Aceh province. The Aceh Party, which is made up mostly of former members of the Free Aceh Movement (Gam), claims to have won 70 per cent of the vote there.

The Gam reached a peace deal with the government in 2005.