Riots disrupt Indonesia’s post-election calm

(Election) spoiler alert . . .

Indonesia’s Election Oversight Body confirmed this week what most people in the country have known and accepted since April 17: incumbent President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo won a second term, with 55 per cent of the vote. Rather than concede, ultra-nationalist former General Prabowo Subianto declared himself the winner and encouraged his supporters to protest. They did, and riots broke out in the capital city of Jakarta on Tuesday. The protesters alleged there was rampant fraud during the election, though such allegations have largely been unproven.

Setback for Indonesian democracy?

Jokowi contained the riots quickly, but not before six people died and more than 200 were injured. His administration also announced that it was blocking some social media apps in parts of Jakarta in order to prevent the spread of fake news. These opposition-led riots are a possible pushback against democracy, and raise the spectre of strongman politics spreading to the world’s third largest democracy and largest Muslim-majority country.

Impacts for Canada's trade diversification strategy?

In response to rising security threats on the ground in Indonesia, Ottawa issued a travel advisory in March, then updated it following the riots this week to encourage Canadians to “[E]xercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia due to political and social tensions and the threat of terrorism throughout the country.” We’ll be monitoring how these events could impact Canada’s trade diversification strategy in Asia. Will B.C., which has had a trade office in Jakarta since 2016, weather the storm?