How the world is voting in 2024

The first half of the biggest election year in human history has yielded mixed results for global democracy. Some countries shifted toward one-party autocracy as incumbents consolidated their power. Others staged a semblance of elections with predetermined outcomes.
World is voting:- The first half of the biggest election year in human history has yielded mixed results for global democracy. [VOA]
World is voting:- The first half of the biggest election year in human history has yielded mixed results for global democracy. [VOA]

World is voting:- The first half of the biggest election year in human history has yielded mixed results for global democracy. Some countries shifted toward one-party autocracy as incumbents consolidated their power. Others staged a semblance of elections with predetermined outcomes. And still others demonstrated the unexpected resilience of popular will in the face of external pressure.

Bangladesh

The January 7 election took place without participation from the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which had long demanded the formation of a neutral caretaker government to oversee the process.

The BNP's boycott ensured a victory for the ruling Awami League and a fifth term for Sheikh Hasina, making her Bangladesh's longest-serving prime minister.

Despite some unrest leading up to the election, voting proceeded without major violence or irregularities. However, the absence of any major opposition, along with the jailing of many BNP leaders and supporters, led the United States and the United Kingdom to declare the elections "not free and fair" and some media outlets to observe that Bangladesh has effectively become a one-party state.

Taiwan

Taiwan's January 13 election saw outgoing Vice President Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winning the presidential race with 40% of the vote. The opposition vote was split between Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Ko Wen-je of the recently formed Taiwan People's Party (TPP), who had initially discussed forming a joint ticket but failed to come to an agreement.

While narrowly holding on to the presidency, the DPP lost its parliamentary majority, giving the populist TPP and its eight seats a decisive role in the divided legislature.

Lai's victory came despite significant election interference from the Chinese Communist Party, which perceives the DPP as more directly supportive of Taiwanese independence.

Although Beijing reacted to the results with strongly worded reiterations of its "One China" principle, as well as increased military activity and diplomatic pressure, both sides have so far refrained from any major efforts to shift the status quo in cross-strait relations.

El Salvador

President Nayib Bukele secured a landslide reelection victory with over 84% of the vote, while his Nuevas Ideas Party took 54 of 60 legislative seats.

While the results broadly reflected opinion polls, critics have pointed to manipulation in Bukele's favor, from the overturning of a constitutional ban on reelection to a reduction of electoral districts.

The president also received near-unanimous support from more than 300,000 Salvadorans living abroad, thanks to a new law allowing remote electronic votes, with multiple locations set up in the United States.

Having presided over a drastic drop in El Salvador's notoriously high murder rate, Bukele maintains overwhelming popularity despite facing criticism over authoritarian measures such as mass incarceration, press censorship and challenges to the constitutional order.

While his victory was welcomed by many foreign leaders for promoting stability, human rights organizations have warned that the country may be becoming a one-party state.

Pakistan

Pakistan's election was marred by reports of widespread electoral fraud, with allegations that the powerful military establishment was intervening in favor of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party.

Despite facing multiple obstacles, including the jailing of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the banning of its symbols, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party showed unexpectedly strong results, with its candidates winning 93 of 226 contested parliamentary seats.

Pakistan's election was marred by reports of widespread electoral fraud. [VOA]
Pakistan's election was marred by reports of widespread electoral fraud. [VOA]

Because they were forced to run as independents, the PTI could not claim any of the 60 proportionally reserved seats, leaving the PLM-N with a narrow majority of 114.

Sharif's party has formed a coalition government with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), formerly its chief rival. However, there are fears that a divided parliament and a government with weak legitimacy could lead to instability and a retrenchment of military power.

Indonesia

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra Party easily won the presidency with the endorsement of popular outgoing leader Joko Widodo, whose eldest son became Prabowo's running mate.

The former army general received more than 96 million votes, the most ever received by any candidate in an Indonesian election, while the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) retained a narrow parliamentary majority.

Prabowo's victory was initially met with legal challenges from opposing parties, but these were soon dismissed. Due to begin his term in October, the president-elect faces a divided government as well as lingering questions regarding his links to human rights abuses while serving under the Suharto regime.

Iran

Iran's legislative election was the first since the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody and the ensuing protests against the Islamic regime.

Only about one-third of registered candidates were approved to run by the country's Guardian Council, while moderate and reformist leaders, including former presidents, called for boycotting the elections.

The result was a record low turnout, 42% of eligible voters, and a parliament dominated by conservatives.

Iran's legislative election was the first since the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody and the ensuing protests against the Islamic regime. [VOA]
Iran's legislative election was the first since the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody and the ensuing protests against the Islamic regime. [VOA]

Concurrent elections to the Assembly of Experts were similarly dominated by regime hard-liners, including then-President Ebrahim Raisi, who ran as the only candidate in South Khorasan province.

The recent death of Raisi, who was widely expected to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader of Iran, is unlikely to change Iran's political dynamics in the short term, with a new presidential election scheduled for June 28.

Russia

Russia's presidential elections took place without any significant challenge to President Vladimir Putin, now entering his fifth term. Liberal opposition leader Alexey Navalny, jailed since his return to Russia in 2021, died under suspicious circumstances shortly before the election, while other opposition candidates such as anti-war politician Boris Nadezhdin were barred from running.

This left Putin with only token competition from candidates including Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, who refrained from criticizing the president and only differed on domestic policy while supporting the war in Ukraine.

Putin's victory with an alleged 88% of the vote was not recognized as legitimate by most Western democracies.

Putin's victory with an alleged 88% of the vote was not recognized as legitimate by most Western democracies.[VOA]
Putin's victory with an alleged 88% of the vote was not recognized as legitimate by most Western democracies.[VOA]

The election was carried out across Russia as well as in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, drawing attacks on polling sites and cross-border raids by Ukrainian-allied forces.

Thousands of Russians at home and abroad also took part in an action dubbed Noon against Putin, endorsed by Navalny before he died, calling for supporters to arrive at polling stations simultaneously to cast a protest vote.

Mexico

Climate scientist and former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum of the left-wing Morena Party secured the presidency with nearly 60% of the vote, defeating conservative rival Xóchitl Gálvez and center-left candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez. In a historic victory, Sheinbaum will become the first female president and the first Jewish president of the largely Catholic country.

As the chosen successor of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Sheinbaum is expected to continue his social welfare policies, which have successfully reduced poverty and inequality. However, she faces challenges in addressing Mexico's deteriorating security and rising cartel violence, highlighted by the killing of 20 local candidates in the run-up to the election. Sheinbaum's presidency will also be tested in navigating relations with the United States on issues such as tariffs, migration, and drug trafficking.

India

Although it remains the largest party in India's parliament, Prime Minister Narenda Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party suffered an unexpected setback in losing its absolute majority. With only 240 out of 543 seats, the BJP must rely on the smaller parties in its National Democratic Coalition (NDA) to form a government.

Although it remains the largest party in India's parliament, Prime Minister Narenda Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party . [VOA]
Although it remains the largest party in India's parliament, Prime Minister Narenda Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party . [VOA]

Under Modi's tenure, India has seen economic growth and increased assertiveness on the international stage, along with the suppression of journalists, rising Hindu nationalism and threats to the Muslim minority. Despite fears that another BJP term could mean further democratic backsliding, the 232 seats won by the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, led by the secular India National Congress, will enable it to maintain a strong opposition. VOA/SP

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