Presidential hopeful Anies Baswedan is touring Australia to replace Joko Widodo
“All other things being equal, foreign policy and a candidate’s global reach don’t matter much in Indonesia’s elections, but when the race is close, a handful of middle-class voters may well decide that their president should be internationally presentable said Associate Professor Marcus Mietzner, an expert on Indonesian politics at the Australian National University.
“The interesting thing is that Anies should have the least need for such globetrotters: he has a US PhD. And yet Anies seems most interested in his image abroad. This suggests that this is not just about foreign policy; it also seems designed to show doubters at home that he is not viewed as an Islamist by his Western partners.”
Widodo, known as Jokowi, is also scheduled to fly to Canberra for this year’s edition of the annual meeting of leaders, which resumed after the pandemic struck with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Jakarta and Makassar just two weeks after Labor won the election in May would.
According to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is expected to happen in the middle of the year, although no date has been set.
However, as Widodo will complete his second and final term in October 2024, much attention is focused on who will succeed him.
Baswedan is in the mix, having over the past three years led Jakarta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and been credited with measures such as expanding public parks while guiding the megacity.
He also actively demonstrated pluralistic credentials while in charge of the capital, including leading emergency financial aid to places of worship of other religions as well as mosques during the pandemic and overseeing the introduction of Christmas carols to the public.
But Asra Virgianita, international relations scholar at the University of Indonesia, said Baswedan still faces a struggle to break away from the identity politics of six years ago. He was backed in 2017 by Gerindra, the party of Subianto, who is also said to have played the religious card in his defeats by Widodo in the 2014 and 2019 presidential elections.
“I think that’s the point [Baswedan feels he needs] to fix in connection with the presidential election,” she said.
“He wants to make sure that the international public doesn’t see him as someone who is going to pursue discriminatory policies. I think that’s the most important thing he has to do. That’s Anie’s biggest problem.”
A backing for the hugely popular Widodo is also crucial as the picture emerges ahead of this year’s elections, but it won’t get Baswedan, who was ousted from the cabinet in 2016 and is seen as a political opponent of the president.
Nevertheless, Mietzner sees good election opportunities.
“His chances are good. The race is tight between Ganjar, Anies and Prabowo, a few percentage points can decide [the winner],” he said.
“Anie’s biggest disadvantage as an ethnic Arab is his lack of appeal in the Javanese heartland. He is also struggling to convince religious minorities that his dog-whistling campaign in Jakarta’s 2017 gubernatorial election, when he was vying for the Islamist vote, was an isolated case.
“But he is young, energetic, articulate and charismatic and is considered a governor who has done a good job. He’s far from the leader, but he has a chance.”
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https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/internationally-presentable-presidential-hopeful-tours-australia-in-quest-to-replace-widodo-20230130-p5cgln.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Presidential hopeful Anies Baswedan is touring Australia to replace Joko Widodo