Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 22:51 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 22:51 | SYDNEY

A victory for Australia


Sam Roggeveen


9 July 2009 13:18

Peter McCawley's post on the Indonesian presidential election outcome is titled 'A victory for Indonesia', though in his conclusion he makes a good case that it's a big win for Australia too. Of course, it's good for Australia that the politically moderate and more economically liberal candidate won. But more broadly, it's also enormously important that the democratic process seems to have functioned so smoothly.

It is really a massive stroke of luck for Australia that Indonesia's democratisation is proceeding so well, which prompts the question: has there been any other single international development since the end of the Cold War that has been as advantageous to Australia's national security?

The Timor issue has to be a big factor in weighing this question, in that it could be counted as a siginficant negative side-effect to Australia of Indonesian democratisation. And were Indonesia's other autonomy/independence disputes to boil over, that would colour the judgment too.

We should also consider the implications of one day seeing Indonesia elect a far less congenial president. Is Indonesian democratisation still in our interests then?

ADDENDUM: As always when considering alternative scenarios, we shouldn't compare what we face now with what we used to have under Suharto, because clearly that status quo was not sustainable. The real comparison is between what we have now and what we might have had now if the period since Suharto's resignation in 1998 had gone differently.