Costa Rica held general elections on February 6, 2022 and will hold a presidential runoff on April 3, 2022.
In total, there were 25 presidential candidates from various parties, and turnout was a historic low. Incumbent presidents are not allowed to run for a second consecutive term, so President Carlos Alvarado from the center-left Citizen Action (PAC) did not run for another term. PAC nominated former prime minister Welmer Ramos as its presidential candidate. However, PAC won less than 1 percent of the vote and no seats in the legislature, and Ramos will not advance to the runoff. Instead, center-right economist Rodrigo Chaves, who won the first round, will face off against center-left former president José María Figueres.
Rated Free by Freedom House, Costa Rica has been a stable democracy since 1949.
Hungary is holding parliamentary elections on April 3, 2022. Prime Minster Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has become increasingly authoritarian, to the concern of many both in Hungary and in the international community. There have been concerns about the fairness of the elections. Moreover, Orbán’s increasingly close ties to Russia and China have become a concern for many Hungarian voters.
A number of opposition parties recently held a primary to field a single candidate for prime minister. Ultimately, conservative Péter Márki-Zay, mayor of the southern city of Hódmezővásárhely, won the second round, defeating leftist Klára Dobrev, after liberal Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony – who had been seen as a favorite – dropped out and endorsed Márki-Zay.
Serbia holds early presidential and legislative elections on April 3, following a constitutional referendum on January 16 in which voters approved constitutional changes related to the judiciary – a move some hope will bring Serbia closer to EU membership.
The last elections, snap parliamentary elections in June 2020, took place in a climate of mistrust. Many opposition parties boycotted, and therefore, President Alexander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) dominated. Vucic announced that the new parliament would not serve a full term, and that the Serbia would hold both presidential and parliamentary elections by April 2022.
Serbia has tried to balance movement toward joining the European Union with maintaining good relations with Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the issue into even greater focus. Meanwhile, China has stepped up its presence.
The DRC will hold gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial elections on April 6, 2022. After that, the country is due to hold general elections in 2023. The December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi. This marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history, whether or not the election results were legitimate.
Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned.
However, tensions remain high and violent conflict continues in many places. The DRC’s vast mineral wealth exacerbates the various conflicts.
Gambia is holding legislative and local elections on April 9, 2022. These follow the December 2021 presidential election, the first since it began its remarkable transition to democracy in 2016, when citizens removed dictator Yahya Jammeh – who had come to power in a coup and ruled for 22 years – peacefully, via the ballot box.
In a 2016’s surprising election result, then-opposition candidate Adama Barrow won the presidency with the backing of a coalition of seven opposition parties. However, the process of establishing democracy and recovering from Jammeh’s brutal dictatorship has not been easy.
Jammeh sought to influence the 2021 election from exile (he is currently in Equatorial Guinea). Although Jammeh and Barrow had previously made a controversial pre-election deal, they abandoned it and Jammeh ultimately called on voters to oust Barrow, who nonetheless won re-election by a large margin.
Even though international observers and Gambian civil society organizations have called the 2021 presidential election credible, some opposition candidates challenged the results, highlighting the fact that Gambia still has a ways to go in its transition to democracy.
France holds presidential and legislative elections in spring 2022. These follow the June 2021 regional elections, in which the far-right failed to make gains that had been predicted by pre-election polls. The regional elections put the center-right Republicans in a stronger position to challenge President Emmanuel Macron.
In total, 12 candidates qualified for the first round ballot (by obtaining 500 signatures of elected officials). While many had predicted a rematch between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in 2017, it is becoming increasingly unclear who will make it to the second round (if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on April 10, the top two face off in a runoff on April 24). The rise of far-right media personality Éric Zemmour, who is often compared to Donald Trump, could take support away from Le Pen.
As for the traditionally-dominant parties, the center-right Republicans have selected Valérie Pécresse, president of the regional council of Île-de-France. The Socialists chose Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo as their candidate. Pécresse was polling in second for a long time, and could very realistically beat both of the far-right candidates and make it to the runoff. Far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, whose rallies sometimes feature “smell effects,” has risen to third place in the polls in the weeks before the election.
Timor-Leste (also called East Timor) held a presidential election on March 19. Current president Francisco Guterres, called Lú-Olo, first elected in 2017, trailed former president José Ramos-Horta. Because no candidate got a majority, a runoff is set for April 19, 2022.
Since winning independence from Indonesia in a referendum 20 years ago, Timor-Leste has become a democracy rated Free by Freedom House, although many challenges remain.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds general elections on February 18, 2023, but some states are due to hold gubernatorial elections before that, including Ekiti and Osun states in 2022. Edo State in the south holds local elections on April 19.
In addition, potential 2023 candidates have already begun jockeying for position. Since the return to civilian rule, vote-rigging and violence have plagued elections. While the 2015 polls – which handed the opposition its first-ever victory – were considered credible, international and Nigerian observers found that the 2019 polls fell short. The country is in the midst of several security crises.
Slovenia will hold general elections on April 24, 2022. The current government is a conservative minority coalition headed by populist Janez Janša. It came to power in January 2020 after the center-left minority government of Marjan Šarec collapsed.
A polling station in Paris during France’s 2017 elections. Photo credit: Flickr/Laurie Schaull (CC BY 2.0)