If it seems like there’s a lot of elections happening at the moment, you’re right – there are. These few days alone have seen, or will see key elections from Mongolia to Malawi, and across the EU, including major EU players like France and Poland.
While it may seem like the upcoming election for POTUS has sucked all the political oxygen out of the global room, there’s actually dozens more major elections around the corner. Most of which will be de facto referendums on their leaders’ handling of the crisis, as well as live fire exercise in how to conduct civic society amidst the Covid crisis.
Here’s a quick summary of just a few of the key contests to watch, as Covid looks set to impact the political map around the world.
Just some of the pivotal elections in Asia at the moment, include national ones in Mongolia and Singapore, and highly disputed local ones in Hong Kong and Jammu & Kashmir.
Just Happened: 24 June 2020
What’s at stake? Opposition parties denying the government a parliamentary super-majority
Mongolia’s just held its parliamentary elections, returning the ruling Mongolian People’s Party to power in the legislature, but with 3 seats less than in 2016, taking away its legislative super-majority. And marking the first election since last year’s constitutional crisis, when sitting president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga (then, with a super-majority in the legislature), proposed new controversial legislation granting powers to dismiss judges, prosecutors, and the head of the anti-corruption agency.
Coming Soon: 10 July 2020
What’s at stake? The biggest challenge to date, to Singapore’s ruling party
Singapore will be holding its general election on 10 July, with all 93 parliamentary seats up for grabs and mandatory voting for its 2.6 million vote-casting constituents. As the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) looks to secure a 15th consecutive term in office, while the opposition Worker’s Party has stated it hopes to secure 1/3 of MPs. All of which is happening amidst the very public split within the family of Singapore’s founding father, between his sons, incumbent PM Lee Hsien Loong and his younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang who recently declared his support for the opposition Progress Singapore Party. Not to mention the controversial public reaction to the recent candidacy of the PAP’s Ivan Lim, who’s just announced he’s withdrawn from the election after a vocal outcry on social media. All of which regionally speaking, may seem fairly tame compared to election drama in some of its neighbouring countries, but by Singapore standards the upcoming 18th General Election looks set to likely be its most dramatic in decades.
Hong Kong / Jammu & Kashmir
Coming Soon: Hong Kong (6 September 2020) / Jammu & Kashmir (Q4 2020)
What’s at stake? Huge, contentious issues in civil society, including sedition, freedom of assembly, and regional identity
Other sub-national, but pivotal upcoming Asian elections later this year include in Jammu & Kashmir’s state assembly (in Q4 2020), and Hong Kong’s LegCo (6 September) – in both cases the first elections to be held following recent months of turmoil in those regions, and both of which promise to be heavily contested (and controversial), regardless of the outcome.
There’s major elections across Europe, both within and outside the EU, several of which are happening right now.
Coming Soon: 12 July
What’s at stake? Poland’s relationship with the EU, and future of its independent judiciary and media
Probably the most pivotal election in Europe is Poland’s presidential elections, the first round of which happened yesterday, amidst a heated race between incumbent President Andrzej Duda of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party, and the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski. Already postponed since May (due to Covid), while incumbent Duda gained the most votes (42%), the election failed to produce a clear winner, and has triggered a July run-off. Home to 38 millions people, the result of Poland’s run-off could also have a significant impact in Brussels. As Duda’s party is largely at odds with the EU over controversial reforms to the country’s judiciary, rules limiting media, and their ideological anathema to LGBTQ rights. With Brussels largely holding its breath, hoping for a win by Trzaskowski, who promises to rebuild relations with the block, and reverse the country’s perceived hard-right turn under President Duda.
Happened Yesterday: 28 June 2020
What’s at stake: Could the PM cement his popularity, to surpass President Macron as a viable successor?
French municipal elections also took place yesterday – where interestingly France’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe simultaneously stood for (and resoundingly won) reelection as mayor of Le Havre, and whose popularity has markedly outstripped his boss, Emmanuel Macron during the Covid crisis. Conversely Macron’s own LREM party failed to win any major municiple post anywhere in France – possibly setting the PM up as a successor (or challenger), to President Macron who according to recent polls, has seen his popularity fall from 60%+ in 2017 (when he appointed PM Philippe), to around 30% in May 2020.
Coming Soon: 15 July 2020
What’s at stake? Will its risky negotiations with Greece actually pay off domestically?
Aspiring EU applicant, the newly renamed North Macedonia will be holding its parliamentary elections on 15 July – after having postponed them since April, due to the pandemic. With the elections seen not only as a referendum on the government’s handling of the Covid crisis, but also public sentiment following its agreeing to rename the country, to appease EU member Greece’s long-standing objections to its EU membership bid.
Just Happened: 28 July 2020
What’s at stake? Can Ireland’s new coalition government rebuild Ireland’s battered economy?
While Ireland already held its election earlier this year, it has only just named its new taoiseach (Irish prime minister), Micheál Martin who heads a 3-party left-leaning coalition including bitter former rivals, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and notable among other things for having banned smoking in many places during his time as Health Mininster, and having been the first Western foreign minister to make an official trip to Gaza, after Hamas came to power in 2007. Martin certainly has his work cut out for him, as Ireland’s been plunged back into recession (it’s largest in history), facing 28% unemployment and a €27 billion deficit, rekindling the worst memories of the country’s crippling banking crisis at the height of the GFC.
Africa has numerous elections due in 2020, from one end of the continent to the other, including major contests in several important states in the restive Sahel region, like Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger, as well as pivotal elections in GERD rivals, Egypt and Ethiopia, and even in the comparatively quiet Seychelles.
Just Happened: 23 June 2020
What’s at stake? Proof that Malawi’s civil institutions can survive a contested, but peaceful transition of power
An election that’s just finished (for the second time), has seen Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera defeat incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.5% of the vote in a re-run of the previously annuled May 2019 vote. Creating an outcome that’s unique in Africa, as the first time a re-run African election went in favour of an opposition candidate – showing promisingly, that Malawian civil society and courts were unwilling to accept perceived strong-man tactics by the former president. And leaving new President-Elect Chakwera with the unenviable task of rapprochement with the 40% of his people who supported his deposed rival, Peter Mutharika.
Ethiopia / Egypt
Coming Soon: Ethiopia (29 August 2020) / Egypt (November 2020)
What’s at stake? The waters of the Nile and possible war if it goes badly
Other major elections on the continent due later this year include Egyptian parliamentary elections in November, and Ethiopia’s general election which were originally due on 29 August, but have been preemptively delayed due to Covid until late 2020 and will be the country’s first election since the dissolution of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front – the dominant political coalition in the country, since the end of military rule in 1991.
With both countries elections likely to be greatly impacted in unpredictable ways by their ongoing tripartite negotiations (including Sudan) due in July – aimed at bring an end to bellicose disputes over the opening of Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) – a project that will greatly impact all parties’ water supplies for decades to come, and which both have openly stated could trigger a war.
There’s a number of pivotal elections happening in Oceania in the coming months.
Coming Soon: 19 September 2020
What’s at stake? Major changes to New Zealand’s laws
The 19th of September will be a major day in New Zealand, as the country goes to the polls for its general election, as well as nationwide referendums on legalising cannabis and allowing euthanasia.
Coming Soon: 4 October 2020
What’s at stake? The future of New Caledonian, either in France or independent
Meanwhile New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France will hold an independence referendum on 4 October, its second since 2018 when voters previously rejected independence by 70%. Which if it fails again, will result in a 3rd and final referendum being held in 2022 – as agreed under the terms of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, between France and the territory’s indigenous Melanesian inhabitants, the Kanak people.
There’s also major state elections in Australia in October, including ACT (17 October) and Queensland (31 October), and a range of other important elections due in Kiribati, Tokelau, and Vanuatu, among others.
Brazil / Venezuela
Coming Soon: Brazil (October 2020) / Venezuela (Q4 2020)
What’s at stake? De facto referendums on their governments and more…
In South America, several major elections are happening later this year, including nationwide municipal elections in Covid-stricken Brazil in October, followed by what will doubtless be highly disputed parliamentary elections in Venezuela sometime later this year. In the case of Brazil, it will serve as a referendum on the level of continued support for highly controversial, Covid-denying President Jair Bolsonaro, while in Venezuela, it will almost certainly, unfortunately serve as another example of the country’s descent into economic and political chaos.
To find out more about upcoming elections, voter turnout, and what’s on the ballot globally by state or country, check electionguide.org. While some of the best sources to find out more about Central and Eastern European, as well as Central Asian elections include enemo.eu and emerging-europe.com.