July 5, 2019

Each day, 21votes gathers election and political news from a different region of the world. We explore Asia and the Pacific on Fridays. Click the map pins.

Japan Legislative (half of upper house) – July 2019

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

124 out of the 245 seats in the House of Councillors, the upper house of the bicameral National Diet, are up for election, for six-year terms. Shinzo Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seeks to gain a two-thirds majority in the upper house (which it already holds in the lower house with coalition partner Komeito, a Buddhist religious party) in order to revisit and possibly amend Japan’s pacifist constitution. Some had speculated that Abe would also call a snap election to the lower house to be held concurrently (otherwise, lower house elections are not due until 2021), but that Abe dismissed the idea. Nationwide local elections in April saw low turnout and little competition – more than 20 percent of seats were uncontested. Provincial gubernatorial elections are also happening throughout the year. Recent concerns over Japan’s pension systems looked set to threaten Abe’s grip on power, but his government won a no-confidence motion in the lower house and currently looks stable.

The Mainichi, “Official campaigning began Thursday for Japan’s House of Councillors election, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeking to maintain political stability to press ahead with the first-ever constitutional revision and a planned consumption tax hike.”

Isabel Reynolds, Bloomberg: “What to Watch in a Japanese Election That Will Shape Abe’s Legacy”

Tomohiro Osaki and Sakura Murakami, Japan Times: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a debate with opposition leaders on Wednesday that he will go ahead with the planned sales tax hike in October but vehemently denied there will be further increases while he remains in power.”

India, Haryana State and Maharashtra State Assemblies – October 2019 and Jharkhand State Assembly – November 2019 (plus a Lok Sabha by-election August 5, 2019 in Vellore)

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Republic

India has 29 states and seven union territories. Indian states are big – Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai, has 112 million people, Haryana 25 million, and Jharkhand 32 million. Coalitions headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) currently control all three state legislatures. The BJP won a massive victory in elections to the Lok Sabha, India’s national parliament, earlier this year, giving it a second term in power as the majority party able to govern without coalition partners, in an increasingly polarized political climate. The main opposition social democratic Congress Party – India’s oldest party – did well in a series of state elections late last year but is reeling from the whiplash of defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The state elections are happening in the context of a renewed push from Modi to institute “one nation, one election” – a proposal to hold state elections at the same time as elections to the Lok Sabha.

Anjana Pasricha, VOA: “Rahul Gandhi has quit as head of India’s main opposition Congress Party, taking responsibility for its humiliating rout in recent general elections. His resignation leaves the party, which has been led by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty for decades, in crisis.”

Aditya Menon, The Quint: “As Rahul Gandhi Quits: These Four Fault Lines May Divide Congress”

Saheli Roy Choudhury, CNBC: “Low crop prices, a delayed monsoon, rising costs and higher debt levels have worsened the strain on Indian farmers….the BJP has its eyes on key state elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand later this year where the rural vote will be pivotal.”

Ramesh Vinayak, Hindustan Times: “‘Momentum is on BJP’s side’: His party swept all 10 seats in Haryana with a 58% vote share, Manohar Lal Khattar, 65, the state’s first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, is a man in a hurry.”

Times of India: “Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav triggered a controversy last month when he said Congress must ‘die.’ He later elaborated that India needs alternative politics to challenge BJP’s dominance and Congress could not provide it. In pursuit of this aim, his party will contest forthcoming Haryana assembly elections. In a conversation with Manvir Saini, he spells out his party’s prospects.”

Shemin Joy, Deccan Herald: “Parties start preparing for early Delhi polls”

Hong Kong District Councils – November 24, 2019 and Legislative Council – September 2020

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Special Administrative Region within China

Hong Kong’s politicians fall into two broad camps: pro-democracy and pro-Beijing (sometimes called pro-establishment). Within these camps, parties and independent candidates have diverse ideologies, ranging from free market to social democracy. The District Councils oversee local public works and community activities, and the Legislative Council (Legco) is Hong Kong’s legislature. Following the 2015 District Council elections, the pro-Beijing camp controls all 18 councils, but the pro-democracy and localist camps currently hold 124 out of 458 seats. In the Legco, the pro-Beijing camp holds 43 seats out of 70, while the pro-democracy camp holds 24. However, a series of massive protests – with as many as 2 million people in the streets – could boost the pro-democracy camp.

France24: “Hong Kong police arrest 12 involved in pro-democracy protest”

Austin Ramzy, New York Times: “On Hong Kong Handover Anniversary, Many Fear Loss of Freedoms ‘One country, two systems’ was Beijing’s pledge when it took back a former British colony. But concerns over civil liberties are mounting.”

BBC: “Hong Kong protests: Jeremy Hunt ‘keeping options open’ over China:

The UK foreign secretary has continued to warn China it could face ‘serious consequences’ over its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong.”

Verna Yu The Guardian: “‘They will definitely take revenge’: how China could respond to the Hong Kong protests. Hong Kong has seen its biggest political crisis in decades, but Beijing cannot afford to let the dissent go unpunished”

Gloria Fung, Globe and Mail: “Hong Kong is ground zero in a new Cold War – and democracies must lend support”

Yongshun Cai, Washington Post’s Monkey Cage: “Why Hong Kong has become a city of protests: The latest protests differ from earlier ones in significant ways.”

Sri Lanka Presidential – December 7, 2019 and Parliamentary – February 2020

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Sri Lanka is still feeling the aftershocks of a series of terrorist attacks over Easter 2019 and a 2018 political crisis in which President Maithripala Sirisena tried to dissolve parliament and remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from office and replace him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005 to 2015. Ultimately, Wickremesinghe was reinstated, but the crisis has deep roots and tensions remain high in Sri Lankan politics.

The two major parties are Sirisena’s center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Wickremesinghe’s center-right United National Party. Rajapaksa left the SLPF in 2018 and now leads the populist Sri Lanka People’s Front/Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). In the last presidential elections, Rajapaksa surprisingly lost to Sirisena, who embarked on a reform program to reverse many of the autocratic powers Rajapaksa had built up. Sirisena is eligible to run for a second term and could run again. His potential challengers include Wickremesinghe and one of Rajapaksa’s siblings (Rajapaksa is not eligible to run for president again due to term limits adopted during Sirisena’s presidency). Rajapaksa’s SLPP did well in local elections last year. Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice, and the upcoming elections could well determine whether it strengthens or deteriorates.

Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC: “Gotabhaya Rajapaksa: The wartime strongman who wants to run Sri Lanka”

Reuters: “Sri Lankan torture victims have filed 10 new claims for damages in a US court against wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, lawyers for the plaintiffs and a rights group said, possibly jeopardising his plan to run for president.”

Disna Mudalige, Daily News: “The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) reached an agreement to name the new alliance ‘Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Peramuna’ if they contest elections jointly, UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera said.”

Alexandra Ulmer and Omar Rajarathnam, Reuters: “Sri Lanka is moving to curtail Saudi Arabian influence, after some politicians and Buddhist monks blamed the spread of the kingdom’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam for planting the seeds of militancy that culminated in deadly Easter bomb attacks.”

Taiwan Presidential and Legislative – January 11, 2020

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

Taiwan has a robust democracy. The two main parties are President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT). The KMT, founded by Sun Yat-Sen, favors closer ties to the mainland, which it ruled from 1925 to 1948. The DPP, established in 1986 during Taiwan’s transition to democracy, supports Taiwan’s independence. Relations with China are a dominant theme in Taiwan’s political debate. Tsai won the DPP presidential primary, and the KMT holds its own primary next month. Candidates include Terry Guo, Taiwan’s richest man, and Beijing’s choice, Han Kuo-yu, the populist mayor of Kaohsiung, a major port city in the south. The DPP currently controls the Legislative Yuan. Last year’s local elections swept the KMT back into many local offices that they had lost during the 2014 local elections – with some assistance from China. China is expected to attempt to influence the upcoming elections as well.

Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post: “Taipei’s mayor Ko Wen-je, a possible presidential candidate, has presented himself as someone Beijing can trust by offering himself as an alternative to traditional mainland-friendly politicians. The independent, once seen as a hardline pro-independence supporter, received a warm welcome during a three-day visit to Shanghai this week after adopting what one observer described as a “nonconformist” stance towards cross-strait relations.”

Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post: “Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je heads to Shanghai to test waters for presidential bid”

Yimou Lee, Reuters: “ Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will spend four nights in the United States in July while visiting Caribbean diplomatic allies, her government said on Monday, angering China, which urged Washington not to allow her to visit.”

Chris Horton, The Atlantic: “The Strengthening Anti-China Bonds Between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong and Taiwan long had a relationship built around trade and tourism. But as China clamps down in Hong Kong, ties between the pair are strengthening.”

South Korea Legislative - April 15, 2020

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

President Moon Jae-In, who is limited to a single term in office, is facing a decline in approval ratings ahead of the midterm legislative elections; however, his ratings tend to improve temporarily whenever there appears to be a breakthrough in the standoff with North Korea. The discontent is largely due to his management of the economy. Moon’s center-left Minjoo Party (Democratic Party) currently has 128 seats in the National Assembly, and the main opposition conservative Liberty Korea Party (formerly called the Saenuri Party and before that the Grand National Party) has 111 seats. Minjoo swept the June 2018 local elections, winning 14 out of 17 mayoral and gubernatorial offices in major metropolitan areas. 

Shinhye Kang, Bloomberg: “DMZ Summit Lifts South Korea’s Moon to Seven-Month Polling High”

Burma Parliamentary – Expected late 2020

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Nan Lwin, The Irrawaddy: “Homegrown political parties in Myanmar’s ethnic areas are merging together with the aim of increasing their chances of winning a majority of seats in both national and regional parliaments in the upcoming 2020 general elections. By winning more local parliament seats, ethnic politicians would have more authority to improve ethnic rights in their respective areas.”

Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times: “An increasingly popular authoritarian tool: Shutting down the internet”

San Yamin Aung, The Irrawaddy: “Military Using Lawsuits to Impede Freedom of Expression: Athan”

Singapore General - April 2021 (snap possible)

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Bhavan Jaipragas, South China Morning Post: “Is Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about to call a snap election? With headwinds from the US-China trade war hitting Singapore and economic clouds gathering, talk is in the air that now may be the best time”

Australia Federal Parliamentary – May 18, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy (a Commonwealth realm)

Rod McGuirk, AP: “The Australian government returned to Parliament on Tuesday claiming a new mandate from the May election to pass 158 billion Australian dollars ($110 billion) in tax cuts into law. Prime Minister Scott Morrison won a surprise third three-year term at elections on May 18.”

Claire Bickers, News Corp Australia Network: “One of Labor’s most senior party executives has quit his job today as the ALP launches an inquiry into its shock election loss. Noah Carroll stepped down as the party’s National Secretary today, becoming the second major head to roll in the ALP after Bill Shorten resigned as Labor leader on election night.”

Nick Evershed and Andy Ball, The Guardian: “Mapping every vote: extremely detailed maps on the 2019 election: Two interactive maps give a new perspective on the poll”

Indonesia Presidential, Legislative, Provincial – April 17, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Willy Masaharu and Telly Nathalia, Jakarta Globe: “Prabowo Subianto and President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo are set to have their long-awaited “reconciliation meeting” later this month to heal the wounds from a particularly divisive presidential election. On Sunday, Jokowi and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin were declared the official winners of the election after the Constitutional Court threw out Prabowo’s challenge.”

Jakarta Post News Network: “Indonesian VP candidate Sandiaga Uno congratulates President Joko Widodo and his running mate.”

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post: “The last election was more than just a rematch between Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and his old rival, Prabowo Subianto. It was, in essence, an electoral showdown between two competing ideological forces: on one side are minorities and progressive Muslims anxious to retain Indonesia’s pluralism and secular character; on the other are Islamist groups and increasing numbers of born-again Muslims who wish to make the country more Islamic.”

Jakarta Globe: “Indonesia completed arguably its most divisive elections in April but political experts have warned that clashes between different political groups are unlikely to abate anytime soon. The current political status quo will have to compete with political Islam, 1945 Constitution revivalists and human rights campaigners to vie for power in the next five years, pollster and political consultant Denny J.A. said on Tuesday.”

Thailand Parliamentary – March 24, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy

Zsombor Peter, VOA: “Thailand Pro-Democracy Activists Bruised, Bloodied in Spate of Unsolved Attacks”

Hannah Beech, New York Times: “Who’s Attacking Thailand’s Democracy Activists? The Authorities Aren’t Saying”

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Bangkok Post: “The evolving Thai political fault lines”

Upcoming Elections
Japan Legislative (half of upper house) – July 2019
Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

124 out of the 245 seats in the House of Councillors, the upper house of the bicameral National Diet, are up for election, for six-year terms. Shinzo Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seeks to gain a two-thirds majority in the upper house (which it already holds in the lower house with coalition partner Komeito, a Buddhist religious party) in order to revisit and possibly amend Japan’s pacifist constitution. Some had speculated that Abe would also call a snap election to the lower house to be held concurrently (otherwise, lower house elections are not due until 2021), but that Abe dismissed the idea. Nationwide local elections in April saw low turnout and little competition – more than 20 percent of seats were uncontested. Provincial gubernatorial elections are also happening throughout the year. Recent concerns over Japan’s pension systems looked set to threaten Abe’s grip on power, but his government won a no-confidence motion in the lower house and currently looks stable.

The Mainichi, “Official campaigning began Thursday for Japan’s House of Councillors election, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeking to maintain political stability to press ahead with the first-ever constitutional revision and a planned consumption tax hike.”

Isabel Reynolds, Bloomberg: “What to Watch in a Japanese Election That Will Shape Abe’s Legacy”

Tomohiro Osaki and Sakura Murakami, Japan Times: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a debate with opposition leaders on Wednesday that he will go ahead with the planned sales tax hike in October but vehemently denied there will be further increases while he remains in power.”

India, Haryana State and Maharashtra State Assemblies – October 2019 and Jharkhand State Assembly – November 2019 (plus a Lok Sabha by-election August 5, 2019 in Vellore)
Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Republic

India has 29 states and seven union territories. Indian states are big – Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai, has 112 million people, Haryana 25 million, and Jharkhand 32 million. Coalitions headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) currently control all three state legislatures. The BJP won a massive victory in elections to the Lok Sabha, India’s national parliament, earlier this year, giving it a second term in power as the majority party able to govern without coalition partners, in an increasingly polarized political climate. The main opposition social democratic Congress Party – India’s oldest party – did well in a series of state elections late last year but is reeling from the whiplash of defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The state elections are happening in the context of a renewed push from Modi to institute “one nation, one election” – a proposal to hold state elections at the same time as elections to the Lok Sabha.

Anjana Pasricha, VOA: “Rahul Gandhi has quit as head of India’s main opposition Congress Party, taking responsibility for its humiliating rout in recent general elections. His resignation leaves the party, which has been led by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty for decades, in crisis.”

Aditya Menon, The Quint: “As Rahul Gandhi Quits: These Four Fault Lines May Divide Congress”

Saheli Roy Choudhury, CNBC: “Low crop prices, a delayed monsoon, rising costs and higher debt levels have worsened the strain on Indian farmers….the BJP has its eyes on key state elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand later this year where the rural vote will be pivotal.”

Ramesh Vinayak, Hindustan Times: “‘Momentum is on BJP’s side’: His party swept all 10 seats in Haryana with a 58% vote share, Manohar Lal Khattar, 65, the state’s first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, is a man in a hurry.”

Times of India: “Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav triggered a controversy last month when he said Congress must ‘die.’ He later elaborated that India needs alternative politics to challenge BJP’s dominance and Congress could not provide it. In pursuit of this aim, his party will contest forthcoming Haryana assembly elections. In a conversation with Manvir Saini, he spells out his party’s prospects.”

Shemin Joy, Deccan Herald: “Parties start preparing for early Delhi polls”

Hong Kong District Councils – November 24, 2019 and Legislative Council – September 2020
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Special Administrative Region within China

Hong Kong’s politicians fall into two broad camps: pro-democracy and pro-Beijing (sometimes called pro-establishment). Within these camps, parties and independent candidates have diverse ideologies, ranging from free market to social democracy. The District Councils oversee local public works and community activities, and the Legislative Council (Legco) is Hong Kong’s legislature. Following the 2015 District Council elections, the pro-Beijing camp controls all 18 councils, but the pro-democracy and localist camps currently hold 124 out of 458 seats. In the Legco, the pro-Beijing camp holds 43 seats out of 70, while the pro-democracy camp holds 24. However, a series of massive protests – with as many as 2 million people in the streets – could boost the pro-democracy camp.

France24: “Hong Kong police arrest 12 involved in pro-democracy protest”

Austin Ramzy, New York Times: “On Hong Kong Handover Anniversary, Many Fear Loss of Freedoms ‘One country, two systems’ was Beijing’s pledge when it took back a former British colony. But concerns over civil liberties are mounting.”

BBC: “Hong Kong protests: Jeremy Hunt ‘keeping options open’ over China:

The UK foreign secretary has continued to warn China it could face ‘serious consequences’ over its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong.”

Verna Yu The Guardian: “‘They will definitely take revenge’: how China could respond to the Hong Kong protests. Hong Kong has seen its biggest political crisis in decades, but Beijing cannot afford to let the dissent go unpunished”

Gloria Fung, Globe and Mail: “Hong Kong is ground zero in a new Cold War – and democracies must lend support”

Yongshun Cai, Washington Post’s Monkey Cage: “Why Hong Kong has become a city of protests: The latest protests differ from earlier ones in significant ways.”

Sri Lanka Presidential – December 7, 2019 and Parliamentary – February 2020
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Sri Lanka is still feeling the aftershocks of a series of terrorist attacks over Easter 2019 and a 2018 political crisis in which President Maithripala Sirisena tried to dissolve parliament and remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from office and replace him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005 to 2015. Ultimately, Wickremesinghe was reinstated, but the crisis has deep roots and tensions remain high in Sri Lankan politics.

The two major parties are Sirisena’s center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Wickremesinghe’s center-right United National Party. Rajapaksa left the SLPF in 2018 and now leads the populist Sri Lanka People’s Front/Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). In the last presidential elections, Rajapaksa surprisingly lost to Sirisena, who embarked on a reform program to reverse many of the autocratic powers Rajapaksa had built up. Sirisena is eligible to run for a second term and could run again. His potential challengers include Wickremesinghe and one of Rajapaksa’s siblings (Rajapaksa is not eligible to run for president again due to term limits adopted during Sirisena’s presidency). Rajapaksa’s SLPP did well in local elections last year. Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice, and the upcoming elections could well determine whether it strengthens or deteriorates.

Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC: “Gotabhaya Rajapaksa: The wartime strongman who wants to run Sri Lanka”

Reuters: “Sri Lankan torture victims have filed 10 new claims for damages in a US court against wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, lawyers for the plaintiffs and a rights group said, possibly jeopardising his plan to run for president.”

Disna Mudalige, Daily News: “The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) reached an agreement to name the new alliance ‘Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Peramuna’ if they contest elections jointly, UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera said.”

Alexandra Ulmer and Omar Rajarathnam, Reuters: “Sri Lanka is moving to curtail Saudi Arabian influence, after some politicians and Buddhist monks blamed the spread of the kingdom’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam for planting the seeds of militancy that culminated in deadly Easter bomb attacks.”

Taiwan Presidential and Legislative – January 11, 2020
Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

Taiwan has a robust democracy. The two main parties are President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT). The KMT, founded by Sun Yat-Sen, favors closer ties to the mainland, which it ruled from 1925 to 1948. The DPP, established in 1986 during Taiwan’s transition to democracy, supports Taiwan’s independence. Relations with China are a dominant theme in Taiwan’s political debate. Tsai won the DPP presidential primary, and the KMT holds its own primary next month. Candidates include Terry Guo, Taiwan’s richest man, and Beijing’s choice, Han Kuo-yu, the populist mayor of Kaohsiung, a major port city in the south. The DPP currently controls the Legislative Yuan. Last year’s local elections swept the KMT back into many local offices that they had lost during the 2014 local elections – with some assistance from China. China is expected to attempt to influence the upcoming elections as well.

Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post: “Taipei’s mayor Ko Wen-je, a possible presidential candidate, has presented himself as someone Beijing can trust by offering himself as an alternative to traditional mainland-friendly politicians. The independent, once seen as a hardline pro-independence supporter, received a warm welcome during a three-day visit to Shanghai this week after adopting what one observer described as a “nonconformist” stance towards cross-strait relations.”

Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post: “Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je heads to Shanghai to test waters for presidential bid”

Yimou Lee, Reuters: “ Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will spend four nights in the United States in July while visiting Caribbean diplomatic allies, her government said on Monday, angering China, which urged Washington not to allow her to visit.”

Chris Horton, The Atlantic: “The Strengthening Anti-China Bonds Between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong and Taiwan long had a relationship built around trade and tourism. But as China clamps down in Hong Kong, ties between the pair are strengthening.”

South Korea Legislative – April 15, 2020
Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

President Moon Jae-In, who is limited to a single term in office, is facing a decline in approval ratings ahead of the midterm legislative elections; however, his ratings tend to improve temporarily whenever there appears to be a breakthrough in the standoff with North Korea. The discontent is largely due to his management of the economy. Moon’s center-left Minjoo Party (Democratic Party) currently has 128 seats in the National Assembly, and the main opposition conservative Liberty Korea Party (formerly called the Saenuri Party and before that the Grand National Party) has 111 seats. Minjoo swept the June 2018 local elections, winning 14 out of 17 mayoral and gubernatorial offices in major metropolitan areas. 

Shinhye Kang, Bloomberg: “DMZ Summit Lifts South Korea’s Moon to Seven-Month Polling High”

Burma Parliamentary – Expected late 2020
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Nan Lwin, The Irrawaddy: “Homegrown political parties in Myanmar’s ethnic areas are merging together with the aim of increasing their chances of winning a majority of seats in both national and regional parliaments in the upcoming 2020 general elections. By winning more local parliament seats, ethnic politicians would have more authority to improve ethnic rights in their respective areas.”

Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times: “An increasingly popular authoritarian tool: Shutting down the internet”

San Yamin Aung, The Irrawaddy: “Military Using Lawsuits to Impede Freedom of Expression: Athan”

Singapore General – April 2021 (snap possible)
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Bhavan Jaipragas, South China Morning Post: “Is Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about to call a snap election? With headwinds from the US-China trade war hitting Singapore and economic clouds gathering, talk is in the air that now may be the best time”

Past Elections
Australia Federal Parliamentary – May 18, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy (a Commonwealth realm)

Rod McGuirk, AP: “The Australian government returned to Parliament on Tuesday claiming a new mandate from the May election to pass 158 billion Australian dollars ($110 billion) in tax cuts into law. Prime Minister Scott Morrison won a surprise third three-year term at elections on May 18.”

Claire Bickers, News Corp Australia Network: “One of Labor’s most senior party executives has quit his job today as the ALP launches an inquiry into its shock election loss. Noah Carroll stepped down as the party’s National Secretary today, becoming the second major head to roll in the ALP after Bill Shorten resigned as Labor leader on election night.”

Nick Evershed and Andy Ball, The Guardian: “Mapping every vote: extremely detailed maps on the 2019 election: Two interactive maps give a new perspective on the poll”

Indonesia Presidential, Legislative, Provincial – April 17, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Willy Masaharu and Telly Nathalia, Jakarta Globe: “Prabowo Subianto and President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo are set to have their long-awaited “reconciliation meeting” later this month to heal the wounds from a particularly divisive presidential election. On Sunday, Jokowi and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin were declared the official winners of the election after the Constitutional Court threw out Prabowo’s challenge.”

Jakarta Post News Network: “Indonesian VP candidate Sandiaga Uno congratulates President Joko Widodo and his running mate.”

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post: “The last election was more than just a rematch between Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and his old rival, Prabowo Subianto. It was, in essence, an electoral showdown between two competing ideological forces: on one side are minorities and progressive Muslims anxious to retain Indonesia’s pluralism and secular character; on the other are Islamist groups and increasing numbers of born-again Muslims who wish to make the country more Islamic.”

Jakarta Globe: “Indonesia completed arguably its most divisive elections in April but political experts have warned that clashes between different political groups are unlikely to abate anytime soon. The current political status quo will have to compete with political Islam, 1945 Constitution revivalists and human rights campaigners to vie for power in the next five years, pollster and political consultant Denny J.A. said on Tuesday.”

Thailand Parliamentary – March 24, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy

Zsombor Peter, VOA: “Thailand Pro-Democracy Activists Bruised, Bloodied in Spate of Unsolved Attacks”

Hannah Beech, New York Times: “Who’s Attacking Thailand’s Democracy Activists? The Authorities Aren’t Saying”

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Bangkok Post: “The evolving Thai political fault lines”

The Year Ahead: Asia
Japan, provincial elections throughout the year; Japan legislative – half of upper house (July 21); Papua New Guinea local (July 20-25); Nauru legislative (August); IndiaMaharashtra and Haryana states (October); Tuvalu parliamentary (September 9); New Zealand local (October 12); Hong Kong local (November 24); Marshall Islands legislative (November); Kiribati legislative (December); Sri Lanka presidential (December 7); Taiwan presidential and legislative (January 11); Kiribati presidential (March); South Korea parliamentary (April 15); Niue parliamentary (May); Mongolia parliamentary (June).

 

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Campaign posters on an official poster board during Japan’s 2011 local elections. Japan has strict rules for political campaigning. Photo credit: Flickr/Paul Robinson

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