More than 190 million Indonesians will vote today in presidential and parliamentary elections. In a repeat of the 2014 election,
More than 190 million Indonesians will vote today in presidential and parliamentary elections.
In a repeat of the 2014 election, President Joko Widodo is running against former army general Prabowo Subianto. While both candidates have emphasised uniting a country increasingly divided along religious lines, economic nationalism and Chinese influence in local politics and business have come under intense scrutiny from voters.
In order to provide much-needed infrastructure improvements, President Widodo has courted Chinese investment, especially in the $5.9 billion Jakarta-Bandung highspeed railway project—three quarters of which is being funded by the China Development Bank. However, voters have become wary of China due to excessive foreign interest payments, debt and a lack of local employment in Chinese-sponsored projects. This sentiment has been echoed by Mr Subianto, who has vowed to review all of Beijing’s investment in the country, should he be elected.
Despite the rhetoric, Jakarta must find a way to successfully navigate its relationship with Beijing. Whoever wins the election will lead a country that remains dependent on China to achieve its promised economic growth rates. Indonesia is expected to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050, and with China as its largest investor, it will remain difficult to shed such a large source of growth.
Jokowi, as Indonesia’s president is known, is expected to win re-election today.
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