Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto addresses supporters at an event on February 14, 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia - watched by Gibran Rakabuming Raka (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)

When I had lunch with Prabowo Subianto in 2013, a year before his first, failed attempt to be elected president of Indonesia, he was still honing his fiery nationalist pitch, promising to shake up the country and prevent it becoming a failed state.

Eleven years later, the 72-year-old former general finally seems to have secured the presidency by reinventing himself as a continuity candidate, forming an unlikely alliance with the incredibly popular outgoing President Joko Widodo.

Unofficial ‘quick counts’ by respected pollsters, which are typically accurate, indicate that Prabowo won nearly 60 per cent of the vote in Indonesia’s presidential election on February 14.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Sun Is Setting on Indonesia’s Democratic Era

Indonesia’s transformation into a stable democracy over the past quarter-century was as improbable as it was remarkable.

In 1998, the country was on the brink of collapse from a devastating financial crisis and protests that brought down the brutal and corrupt 32-year Suharto dictatorship. Ethnic and religious violence across the sprawling archipelago raised the specter of Balkanization or a military crackdown.

Then, against the odds, the nation’s entrenched elites acceded to public demands for reform and the military withdrew from political life, ushering in an era of open, competitive elections. Corruption and dysfunction persisted, but the world’s fourth-most-populous country emerged as a rare bright spot for liberalism.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street vendor in Jakarta, January 2024. Willy Kurniawan / Reuters

This week, Indonesia heads to the polls to elect a new president. Any exercise of democracy in this sprawling, diverse archipelago nation—the world’s fourth most populous country—is nearly continental in scale. Several candidates are vying to replace the popular president, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, who has ruled the country for the last decade but must now step down owing to term limits. The campaign has seen three main rival coalitions spar over the place of dynasties in Indonesian politics (Jokowi’s son is the running mate of Prabowo Subianto, the leading presidential contender, who had lost twice to Jokowi but now has the president’s full backing) and over other issues of importance to the public, including the appropriate role for government in driving economic growth and questions about foreign investment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, saw independence as a “golden bridge” to becoming an advanced economy and a prosperous society. It is a national ideal to fulfil those goals by 2045, when the country will celebrate the centennial anniversary of independence. However, the journey has not been easy and will continue to be studded with enormous challenges.

The most evident challenge is the climate crisis. It poses a serious threat to the global economy, affects geopolitics, undermines maritime communities and threatens the livelihood of indigenous peoples. At the same time, the world is trying to grapple with the rise of artificial intelligence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, left, and vice presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming speak to journalists prior to a health check at the Gatot Subroto Hospital in Jakarta on Oct. 26. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

Indonesia’s front-running presidential candidates made an incongruous pair as they stood side by side, wearing matching blue shirts, on the army-green jeep driving slowly through a cheering crowd in Jakarta in late October. Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, 72 years old, was short and stout as ever as he arrived at the General Elections Commission to register himself as a candidate for the 2024 presidential election, his third attempt at the post. His running mate, a fresh-faced 36-year-old Gibran Rakabuming, son of President Joko Widodo aka Jokowi, was gamely shaking hands with supporters in the crowd—perhaps still enjoying the sense of adulation following his dizzying ascent from mayor of a small city to national figure.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto during a campaign rally in Bali on March 26, 2019. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP via Getty Images)

Indonesia was in chaos and in danger of splitting apart.

When President Suharto stepped down on May 22, 1998, after more than three decades in power, the autocratic ruler left behind an economic crisis, an outbreak of lawlessness and a heavily centralized, deeply corrupt political system.

Hungry Indonesians were pillaging food warehouses and shrimp farms and occupying golf courses to plant crops to eat. The country’s ethnic Chinese population, which had become the target of mob attacks, were fleeing in droves. Separatist insurgencies were raging in East Timor, Papua and Aceh, and sectarians clashes broke out between Christians and Muslims on the island of Ambon.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, left, shakes hands with Indonesian Armed Forces Chief Gen. Andika Perkasa at Indonesian military headquarters in Jakarta on July 24. (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

It’s hard to think of another country as big and important as Indonesia that is so completely ignored by the American public.

With a population of 274 million, it is the fourth-largest country in the world, the third-most populous democracy, and the most populous Muslim-majority country. (It has seven times as many Muslims as Saudi Arabia.) It is the world’s largest producer of nickel and could become the second-largest producer of cobalt — two of the minerals needed for making electric vehicle batteries. It dominates one of the world’s most strategically important waterways — the Straits of Malacca, linking the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.…  Seguir leyendo »

A visitor walks through the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, plunged into a virulent controversy for having used the term "bersiap", which echoes the memory of the colonial violence perpetrated in Indonesia by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. © Olaf Kraak / ANP / AFP

On October 13th, 2022, an Indonesian man, wearing a golden suit with a black velvet peci (Indonesian traditional cap), stood in front of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. Before him, a black leather case with a sticker that read: ‘Black Pete is racist.’ [referring to the black companion of Saint Nicholas in Dutch folklore] He looked the judges straight in the eye when he spoke: ‘I am delighted to stand here in front of indigenous, white native counselors.’ It is unknown whether they were indeed indigenous to the Dutch land, but that was not the point. By reversing the use of the word inlanders (natives) to address representatives of the Dutch legal system, after all a white institution of power, he reminded them of the condescending way that Indonesians were treated during colonial times.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indonesia won’t always see eye-to-eye with the West, or with China, which makes it an important balancing force in Asia.

On a trip to Jakarta last month, I asked a senior Indonesian official if he was excited about hosting the G20 leaders’ summit, which took place in mid-November in Bali. ‘We’re counting down,’ he told me, but more out of frustration than anticipation. ‘We just want to get it done.’

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had hoped to use his country’s G20 presidency this year to support his overwhelming focus on economic development and burnish his legacy as he prepares to step down in 2024, having reached the constitutional two-term limit.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and the ongoing deterioration in US-China relations, put paid to the aspiration that the G20 could be a geopolitics-free forum to promote Indonesia’s inclusive vision of growth and opportunity for all.  …  Seguir leyendo »

Indonesia’s unexpected success story

In 2013, the US investment bank Morgan Stanley dubbed Indonesia as one of the “fragile five”, a group of emerging economies that it believed were especially vulnerable to a jump in interest rates in the US.

Almost a decade later, US interest rates are rising sharply, which is adding to the economic problems in the developing world. But Indonesia appears unruffled.

At a time when the global economy is being battered by the Ukraine war and the global energy, food and climate crises, Indonesia has emerged as an unlikely outlier, boasting both a booming economy and period of political stability.

Gross domestic product expanded 5.4 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, well above forecasts.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian talks on the phone while walking past a Huawei store in Beijing on Jan. 29, 2019. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China is neither liked nor trusted in Indonesia. Yet Chinese tech firms—particularly Huawei and ZTE—have become trusted cybersecurity partners for the country. They provide the tech and the training for much of the workforce and the government officials charged with Indonesia’s cybersecurity. These Chinese tech successes in Indonesia offer sobering lessons for the United States, its allies, and its partners—not just in Indonesia, with a population of more than 270 million, but in the broader Indo-Pacific as well.

Unless policymakers in Washington take some pages from the Huawei and ZTE playbook, these Chinese tech titans will not face any serious competition as they maneuver to train vast swaths of the 21st century’s digital workforce.…  Seguir leyendo »

No es frecuente que España e Indonesia aparezcan en la misma frase, dadas sus diferentes órbitas geoestratégicas. Y, sin embargo, los dos países tienen en común la sensación de que son un vago misterio para sí mismos, fruto de una ruptura cultural entre su historia y su presente.

En el caso de Indonesia, la brecha es la existente entre el pasado hindú-budista del archipiélago y su reencarnación contemporánea como república islámica. Los reinos hindúes-budistas gobernaron entre los siglos VII y XVI gran parte del territorio que abarca la Indonesia actual. El islam se extendió en la región durante el siglo XVII, por la influencia de los comerciantes y clérigos musulmanes procedentes de India, China y los Estados árabes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indonesian veterans commemorate victims of massacres by the Dutch army in the 1940s in 2013. The Indonesian experience of colonial violence is often overlooked in the Netherlands. © Adek Berry / AFP

On February 17, researchers of the Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia 1945-1950 program (IDVWI) presented their results. They concluded that Dutch armed forces structurally and systematically utilised “extreme violence” to stamp out the Republic of Indonesia that had declared itself independent on 17 August 1945. They added that politicians, civilian and military authorities, including their legal systems, looked away, condoned and silenced colonial violence both in Indonesia and The Hague, the Netherlands’ capital city.

Reactions came fast and furious. Prime minister Mark Rutte apologised to “the people of Indonesia”, but also to Dutch veterans and all the communities violently touched by the war, from 1945 onwards.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, left, and President Xi Jinping of China in 2017. Credit Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Getty Images

When President Biden met his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, last month in Glasgow, he praised Indonesia’s “essential” leadership in the Indo-Pacific and “strong commitment” to democratic values.

But the reality of American engagement with the world’s third-most-populous democracy has been more tepid than these warm words imply, belying Indonesia’s position as the leading Southeast Asian power and a vital balancing force in the geopolitical contest of our time between the United States and China.

The Biden administration has spent much of its first year in office shoring up support among allies and partners who share Washington’s concerns about Beijing but were bruised by four years of Donald Trump.…  Seguir leyendo »


El carisma y liderazgo del actual presidente Joko Widodo –junto con la confirmación de su compromiso reformista– serán claves para el impulso de reformas estructurales que permitan mejorar la competitividad de la economía frente a los retos macroeconómicos existentes y que –junto a otras medidas en materia de educación o sanidad– contribuyan a sentar las bases de un crecimiento sólido, equilibrado y sostenible en Indonesia.


Resumen – 2
(1) Introducción – 2
(2) Contexto político y marco electoral – 3
(3) Contexto económico – 8
(4) Aspectos positivos en el contexto actual – 15
(5) Presencia y proyección española en la economía indonesia – 23
(6) Desafíos de la economía indonesia en el contexto actual – 25
(7) Conclusión – 33
(8) Referencias bibliográficas – 35

(1) Introducción1

Indonesia es la mayor economía del sudeste asiático y el cuarto país más poblado del mundo, siendo también el de mayor población musulmana.…  Seguir leyendo »

In an ideal Indonesia, a Papuan man would live in Jakarta and become a civil servant. He would marry a Padang woman from western Indonesia. They would open a small restaurant and hire a young Sundanese woman. Their customers would be a mix of Javanese, Betawi and other ethnic groups.

This was the scenario of a TV sitcom, “Minus Family,” that aired a few years ago, for which I was a head writer. The show tried to tap Indonesia’s obsession with diversity and harmony, which is encapsulated in the state motto, “We are all different but we are one.” An obsession with diversity and harmony that, in reality, often ends in violence.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente de Indonesia, Joko Widodo. Foto: Ahmad Syauki.


Este análisis revisa los principales desafíos que tiene ante sí el presidente indonesio Joko Widodo durante su segundo mandato.


En esta segunda etapa al frente del país, el binomio Widodo-Amin deberá lidiar con los mismos retos y dilemas a los que se enfrentó durante su primer mandato. Entre ellos destacan: (1) poner fin a las consecuencias negativas del ascenso de Estado Islámico en Siria e Irak y sus terribles repercusiones en el país; (2) la profundización en la defensa y protección de los derechos humanos y civiles; (3) el mantenimiento de la velocidad de crucero en el área económica; y (4) articular una nueva política exterior que sitúe a Indonesia en el lugar que le corresponde en la cambiante estructura regional asiática y, en un futuro no muy lejano, a nivel global.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indonesia Is Moving Its Capital to … Where, Exactly?

When I last visited North Penajam Paser, or P.P.U. as it is known to those limited few who have heard of it, in 2016, the easiest way to get there was by longboat. The harbor had all the attributes of harbors the length and breadth of “outer island” Indonesia — three or four food stalls shaded by recycled election banners; 10 or 12 friendly louts wearing soccer T-shirts and Monster Mash shorts, sitting astride their motorbikes and smoking without conviction; one or two S.U.V.s with the red license plates of officialdom, in which drivers waited for V.I.P.s returning from somewhere more happening.…  Seguir leyendo »

An older woman spoke haltingly into a microphone, her hands trembling from the memory: “They beat my whole body, my eyes and hands were tied. They hit me with a big plank of wood. There were four of them. They hit me on the head, and whipped me with a belt.”

Thus began two days of testimonies at the local parliament house in Lhokseumawe, in the northern part of Aceh, a province of Indonesia located at the northern end of Sumatra. On 16 and 17 of July fifteen victims and family members of the disappeared took their place on stage, speaking before Aceh’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).…  Seguir leyendo »

Campaigners call for gender equality and women's rights on International Women's Day in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia on 8 March 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

Southeast Asia has one of the highest records of gender-based violence in the world and Indonesia was recently ranked as the second most dangerous place for women in the Asia-Pacific. What is the state of women’s rights and gender equality in Indonesia?

It is true that Indonesia has high rates of violence against women, however, it’s difficult to know the realities of women’s experiences because in the past the data has been somewhat unreliable. This has been due to reasons such as a lack of reporting mechanisms available to survivors of violence and the fact that discussing sexual violence is a taboo, and if reported, can result in stigmatization which limits the number of survivors who have come forward.…  Seguir leyendo »