The Jokowi Presidency in Indonesia: Critical Reflections

Who is President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)? How has he survived and managed his presidency through the political, economic, and social upheavals that have occurred in Indonesia over past 3 years?

Has he himself changed with his presidency or, has Indonesia changed under his presidency? As an outsider, President Jokowi who comes from the small town of Surakarta (Solo) in Central Java, had to fight and navigate his ways into national politics by widening his power bases from local and regional to national levels. In doing so, he has had to make political alliances with a variety of political players to face off opposition from powerful oligarchies and others who have controlled political and economic interests in Indonesia for decades. In this context, in 2018 we have seen deepening political struggles in Indonesia, with President Jokowi not only needing to consolidate his power bases but also having to lay down strategies to prepare for the 2019 presidential election.

The defeat of his trusted ally Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) in the governorial election in April 2017 combined with the Jakarta court’s 2 year sentence for Ahok for blasphemy, have been a powerful reminder for President Jokowi of the unpredictability and ruthless of Indonesian politics in years to come. This presentation provides critical reflections on the Jokowi presidency in Indonesia. It will focus on three aspects, namely the dynamics of domestic politics, recent developments in the Indonesian economy and the trends in foreign policy initiatives carried out by Indonesia in international forums.

Dr Priyambudi Sulistiyanto is Senior Lecturer at College of Business, Government and Law and Academic Director of Jembatan, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. His published and co-authored books and his articles also appeared in Pacific Affairs, Australian Journal of Political Science, Third World Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Sojourn, Indonesia, Kasarinlan, Inside Indonesia and Dignitas. His current research looks at the politics of reconciliation and local power in post-Soeharto Indonesia and the Indonesia-Australia relations under the Jokowi presidency.

Think Global is a monthly series of free public talks with a focus on contemporary politics and international relations. The Centre of Democracy has partnered with Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia to share new research and engage with current  political debate.



Head and shoulders of Indonesian president Joko Widodo. He is wearing a black suit, white shirt, and pale red tie.

31 May 2018


Hetzel Thearte, Institute Building
Corner North Terrace & Kintore Avenue
Adelaide 5000


Free, donations welcome

Book now »

Presented by