【Report】 Ritsumeikan-ANU Public Lecture was held!: “Indonesia after Widodo: Contested Legacies and Futures” (Prof. Marcus Mietzner, February 2, 2023)

On February 2nd, 2023, Prof. Marcus Mietzner (Associate Professor, Australian National University) gave a lecture at Ritsumeikan University, funded by the Asia-Japan Research Institute and the Institute of International Relations and Area Studies. The lecture explored the legacies of Indonesian President Joko Widodo (since it is highly likely that he will forego his attempt for his third term) and what Indonesia would look like in the future after he steps down in 2024. Prof. Mietzner argued that despite his big initial promises of change coming to power in 2014, Widodo’s influence on Indonesia has been limited. There is more continuity than change compared to his predecessor, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Indonesia. The economy has been steadily growing under Widodo, just as during the tenure of Yudhoyono. Although Widodo initially pledged to ditch his predecessor’s practice of building a massive coalition in domestic politics, he has come to fully embrace it. As a result, the quality of democracy has been in continuous decline—though it is crucial to note that democracy remains resilient—since colossal coalition building invites compromise-making and discourages altering the status quo. Moreover, Indonesia remains a middle power with little influence on international politics, primarily due to its small military spending. It continues to pursue a hedging strategy of not taking sides in the US-China great power competition. Prof. Mietzner expected these trends to continue even after the leadership change in 2024 since the domestic political system deters leaders from challenging the status quo. Changes require courageous risk-taking, and none of the potential successors fits the bill. Above all, Prof. Mietzner provided a comprehensive and quite clear understanding of contemporary Indonesian politics in this lecture.

Written by Daichi Morishige
(PhD student at Ritsumeikan University)

Prof. Marcus Mietzner delivering his lecture

A commemorative photo taken with Prof. Mietzner (From left side: Prof. Kenki Adachi, Prof. Mietzner, Prof. Jun Honna, and Prof. Yasushi Kosugi)