Indonesian Voters Debate Globalization

Indonesian President Joko Widodo meets with President Xi Jinping during a visit to China; Islamist group protests against the Indonesian government

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation and Asia’s fifth largest economy, is “a sprawling, 3,000-year-old civilization with more than 360 ethnicities, 707 languages and dozens of religions,” writes foreign policy analyst Niruban Balachandran. “Perhaps this diversity and openness to trade and exchange contribute to Indonesians’ surprising embrace of globalization.” That is not to say that the country escapes the pressures of economic nationalism, including price controls or worries about foreign workers competing for jobs. President Joko Widodo and Indonesians appreciate the benefits of new infrastructure associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and other foreign investments, but worry about debt, overwhelming controls and big cultural changes. Indonesia’s subnational elections in late June and national election in 2019 are a referendum on how the government manages globalization, and whether all segments of society will benefit, as the economy is on pace to being among the world’s top five economies before 2050. – YaleGlobal