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Postscript: Indonesia's presidential election

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and be Australia's nearest neighbour.....but what happens in the country, save for this or that piece about Bali, rarely gets any real, in-depth, coverage.

Welcome then to a piece "Jokowi's victory is a decisive break with Indonesia's old order" in The Guardian dealing with the recent presidential election.   The piece is written from an Australian perspective and since being published the losing presidential contender intends contesting the result.

"With last night’s official announcement of Jokowi’s win, Abbott and other global leaders may be breathing sighs of relief at having narrowly avoided an awkward diplomatic predicament. However, a Jokowi presidency comes with its own challenges. Emerging from an election in which he was characterised in opposition to the strong, nationalistic Prabowo, Jokowi may also seek to prove himself a formidable leader and challenge the notion that former president Megawati Sukarnoputri may be pulling the strings behind the scenes.

It is expected that Jokowi will prioritise domestic issues at least in the short to medium term: revitalising Indonesia's stalling economy, lifting millions out of poverty, improving education and health and implementing ambitious public transport infrastructure programs as promised in the election.

Jokowi will need to choose his foreign policy priorities carefully. It seems likely he will focus attention on foreign issues with a strong domestic dimension – he has already highlighted the issue of improving protections for Indonesian migrant workers. As such, Australia is unlikely to factor highly in Indonesia’s foreign policy mix.

The Australian government has hardly helped itself in this regard. During a decade of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY) outward-facing leadership, Australia had plenty of opportunities to forge deep and abiding ties with Indonesia, which it did with varying degrees of success. Yet due to a number of high-profile blunders by its leaders, Australia has repeatedly failed to capitalise on these opportunities and seems blissfully unaware that we need Indonesia far more than Indonesia needs us."


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