JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ The leader of Indonesia's ruling Golkar Party predicted Sunday that it would only be able to win 40 percent of the vote in June 7 general elections.

However, this should be sufficient for Golkar to maintain its position as the biggest party in Indonesia's Parliament, Golkar chairman Akbar Tanjung said in a speech to party supporters.

The June 7 election is expected to be the most democratic and open ballot to be held since 1955 and was called after autocratic President Suharto stepped down amid riots in protests in May.

Under Suharto, Golkar dominated Indonesia's tightly controlled political landscape and helped prop up his authoritarian regime, which is now accused of corruption and human rights abuses.

In the last elections, in 1997, it was one of only three officially recognized parties and it won more than 70 percent of the vote.

Suharto's successor President B.J. Habibie has instituted wide-ranging democratic reforms. Under these, 48 parties have been permitted to contest the latest election. At the same time, Golkar has tried to sever its ties to Suharto and create a new image.

Many analysts say the big number of parties will mean that the overall vote will be fractured and that a coalition government will have to be formed in the 500-member Parliament.