Indonesia's capital voted on Wednesday to choose a governor in an election that is seen as a test for the main political parties ahead of 2014 when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono steps down after two terms in power.
Voters hope the governor can finally fix Jakarta's worsening traffic jams, protect against repeated flooding and better manage the impact of rapid expansion in a country growing above 6 percent per year.
Yudhoyono's Democrat Party backs the incumbent Fauzi Bowo, a German-educated city planning expert seeking a second term. Opinion polls say his leading challenger among the six candidates is Joko Widodo, the charismatic mayor of Solo city in central Java.
A quick count by private pollster Indonesia Survey Circle showed Widodo leading with 43 percent and Bowo second with 34 percent. Widodo is supported by the party of Prabowo Subianto, a strong contender for the 2014 presidential race.
The candidate backed by tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, who will run in 2014 for the Golkar Party, came fifth with only 4.4 percent voters garnered, the quick count showed.
"This is ... a test case arena for political parties ahead of 2014, whether their political machine is working," said Abdullah Dahlan from the political corruption division of Indonesia Corruption Watch.
The candidates offer broadly similar programmes, promising better transport services in a fast growing city of 10 million where the average travel speed during morning rush hour is just 6.1 kph (3.8 mph).
Fauzi's challengers have complained that voter lists are flawed, an issue that many worry could be a significant factor in the 2014 polls.
"The voter registration issue is a chronic problem all over Indonesia because there is no agency that can accurately list the names of the voters," said Jakarta-based analyst Achmad Sukarsono of the International Crisis Group.
Some voters complained of difficulty casting their vote. Yovita Sutanto said an organiser asked her to pay cash for cigarettes in exchange for her voting card.
"It is not a matter of the cigarettes because I could afford it," she told Reuters. "It just amazes me how the bureaucracy here expects money for the work they are expected to do."
Official results are expected next week. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, there will be a run-off between the top two finishers likely in September, Amanullah, an election official said.
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