While Indonesia still stands out as one of the stronger democracies in Southeast Asia, its democratic credentials remain flawed. Nevertheless, public support for the current administration has remained high thanks to sustained economic growth, welfare measures and large infrastructure projects.

Indonesia has continued to bolster its international status through ASEAN, even if its position is one among equals. Within the organization, Jakarta has aimed to play the role of democracy promoter and bridge-builder.

While China’s influence in the country has grown, Indonesia has sought a middle ground within the great-power competition, also pursuing partnerships with European countries, Japan, Russia, and the Gulf countries in order to diversify its political and economic relations.

This offers opportunities for the EU. However, Europe’s declining image in Indonesia, colonial history and perceived double standards are obstacles to strengthening EU-Indonesia relations.

Challenges remain for Indonesia in its quest to become a global player. The country will need to contribute solutions to both regional and global issues, and its hedging game and strategic autonomy in foreign-policy choices may become complicated due to increasing global expectations and responsibilities.

Senior Research Fellow
Non-Resident Senior Fellow