Indonesia’s presidential candidates to share foreign policy platforms

Experts expect presidential hopefuls to answer questions on their stance on Indonesia’s geopolitical positioning, its ties with global powers, national defence and foreign policy.

Dio Suhenda

Dio Suhenda

The Jakarta Post


Presidential candidates (from left) Prabowo Subianto, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo join hands on Oct 30 for a photo session at Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta, following a luncheon hosted by President Joko Widodo. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

November 6, 2023

JAKARTA – Jakarta-based think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has invited the 2024 presidential candidates to a series of discussions to present their foreign policy platforms and address geopolitical questions.

Presidential candidates Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and opposition figurehead Anies Baswedan are scheduled to give speeches and take part in discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday at the CSIS building in Central Jakarta.

Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra Party, meanwhile, was supposed to take part in the event series on Monday but dropped out over a scheduling conflict. He is expected to take part sometime in the near future.

Lina Alexandra, head of international relations at the CSIS, said the events would provide a chance for presidential hopefuls to share their foreign policy perspectives and priorities ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

“We are holding this series of discussions because foreign policy is usually the last issue [a presidential candidate talks about]. In reality, domestic issues today, such as food self-sufficiency and economic growth, cannot be separated from foreign policy,” Lina told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Lina said she expected presidential hopefuls to answer questions on their stance on Indonesia’s geopolitical positioning, its ties with global powers, national defense and foreign policy, including climate change, nuclear proliferation and the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

“Indonesia is on course to be a growing power in the world. But if we don’t have a clear direction [in our foreign policy], that will leave a big question mark for the country,” she added.

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Ganjar is running alongside VP candidate Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, while Anies is running with National Awakening Party (PKB) chair Muhaimin Iskandar. Defense Minister Prabowo has Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the mayor of Surakarta and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son, as his running mate.

In their campaign platforms, which have been submitted to the General Elections Commission (KPU) as part of the registration process, all three pairs share a commitment to upholding Indonesia’s free and active foreign policy and tradition of championing world peace, differing only in their focus and campaign rhetoric.

The Ganjar-Mahfud pair, for instance, said in their campaign documents that they would uphold the free and active policy based on the spirit of the 1955 Bandung Conference, in which a number of Asian and African nations joined in their refusal to pick sides in the Cold War while championing the emancipation of colonized countries.

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Ganjar and Mahfud have also prioritized modernizing the national defense system, including by developing so-called “anti-access” strategies for Indonesia’s outermost regions and creating a fourth armed service to deal with cyber threats.

Similarly, Prabowo has put beefing up the nation’s defense system high on his priority list, including by increasing the defense budget and the military presence along the country’s borders.

As for their foreign policy, the Prabowo-Gibran pair say they will seek to improve Indonesia’s international standing by strengthening maritime diplomacy and actively pushing for Indonesia to open an embassy in war-torn Palestine.

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The Anies-Muhaimin foreign policy platform, on the other hand, relies on positioning Indonesia as “a balancing force in the global order” so that the country can “prevent the domination of certain powers”. The pair promised that, should they be elected, Indonesia would take on a bigger role in the United Nations peacekeeping force and as a “mediator” for world peace, including for Palestine.

The pair also plans to boost the nation’s economic diplomacy and launch local brands globally as part of efforts to cultivate “soft power”.

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