Following fast in the wake of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s symbolic meeting with the Indonesian President this week, the Griffith Asia Institute has turned the focus to who will succeed Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono next month.

A public forum on the forthcoming Indonesian election will be presented in association with the Australia Indonesia Business Council in Brisbane on Thursday (June 12).

Professor Colin Brown, Griffith Asia Institute; Bill Farmer AO, former Ambassador to Indonesia; and Michelle Wade, General Manager, International Operations, Trade & Investment Queensland will discuss Indonesia’s political and business future and its likely influence on Australia-Indonesia relations.

Two presidential candidates will contest the July 9 election with recent parliamentary elections leaving a challenging, disjointed political landscape ahead for the eventual victor.

CBwebProfessor Brown (left) says voters are left with a stark choice between populist, down-to-earth Governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and former Special Forces Commanding General, Prabowo Subianto.

“Jokowi represents a new type of political leader who has come up through local government and provincial elections, and has few ties with the country’s established political elite. Prabowo is more in the mould of the established political leadership of the country, with connections to big business and the military.

“Whoever wins will face a tough time getting legislation through the parliament and will need to rely on coalitions of parties for support in a political environment where political coalitions are notoriously unstable. Indonesia’s immediate future is politically uncertain.”

April’s parliamentary elections demonstrated the dispersive nature of political support in Indonesia, with 10 parties securing the 3.5% of the vote necessary to win seats in the national People’s Representative Council. The strongest party, PDIP, gained less than 19% of the vote.

Professor Brown is forecasting a hard-fought tussle for power with Prabowo starting to close the gap on Jokowi, heretofore the leading candidate in the polls.

“The public forum will consider the impact of both the parliamentary and presidential elections in Indonesia and how this could play out in the shadows of what has become a strained relationship with Australia during the past six months.”

The public forum titled ‘Indonesian Election Brief’ takes place at the Queensland College of Art at Griffith’s South Bank campus, starting at 6pm on June 12. Further details from 07 3735 5322.