Australia should not interpret the likelihood of continuity in Indonesia’s international standing and orientation as justifying a status quo approach to bilateral ties.
Joko Widodo’s election in 2014 as Indonesia’s seventh president reflects a mood of change from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Indonesia. On the campaign trail, Widodo addressed this mood for change with a populist appeal to voters as a politician who listened to their concerns and would work to make their lives better. His greatest challenges as president come domestically. On this front, he must demonstrate to voters that unpopular decisions such as raising fuel prices are ultimately in their interests. He must also live up to his pledge of a new way of doing politics, despite appointing a cabinet broadly similar in composition to that of his predecessor. Internationally, Jokowi must answer expectations for a more influential Indonesia, but can do so by maintaining substantial continuity in Indonesia’s foreign policy settings. Nevertheless, Australia should not interpret the likelihood of continuity in Indonesia’s international standing and orientation as justifying a status quo approach to bilateral ties.