Presidential hopefuls Anies Baswedan, Prabowo Subianto, and Ganjar Pranowo clash for the third time on the third presidential debate on Defence, Geopolitics, and International Relations on Sunday, January 7, 2023. Coming into the debate, Prabowo was predicted as a clear favourite by the majority of the mainstream media. After all, his military background, boasting of the breadth of grand concepts, and knowledge of defence strategies and tactics were his backbone in the past two presidential campaigns. As an incumbent Defence Minister, however, he had brought to the debate 4,5 years’ worth of materials for his political rivals to question.
Under such context, and also due to his lead in the latest set of electability surveys released in December (e.g., CSIS Survey released on December 27, 2023 points to Prabowo-Gibran's electability at 43.7 percent, while Anies-Muhaimin and Ganjar-Mahfud’s electability at 26.1 and 19.4 percent respectively), the majority of the debate targets the incumbent’s defense policies. As such, other major issues of geopolitics and international relations are less addressed (e.g., heating flashpoints across the Indo-Pacific, stagnancy in political and security issues in ASEAN such as in the case of Myanmar, as well as the many excesses of great power rivalry affecting the state of global cooperation).