Asia

November 8, 2019

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

Sri Lanka Presidential – November 16, 2019 (confirmed) and Parliamentary – February 2020 (tentative)

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 22.6 million

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. SLPP did well in local elections last year.

Out of a record 35 presidential candidates, the two frontrunners former defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Mahinda’s brother), who has been accused of war crimes (Mahinda is not eligible to run for president again due to term limits adopted during Sirisena’s presidency), as well as Sajith Premadasa from UNP, who bested Wickremesinghe in the party’s bitterly-fought nomination contest. Premadasa is the son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa, and has sought to bolster his campaign’s national security credentials by promising to appoint a former wartime army chief as head of national security if elected. Rajapaksa is presenting himself as a strongman, promising to eliminate Islamist terrorists.

Sirisena has announced that he will not seek re-election, and for the first time ever, the SLFP will not be fielding a presidential candidate. Thus Sri Lanka’s party system is in the midst of a realignment. International observers have noted that the fluid party situation could make the election more competitive, but also note concerns about media bias, transparency in campaign finance, voter education, and party conduct. Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice, and the upcoming elections could well determine whether it strengthens or deteriorates.

Malaysia Parliamentary By-Election in Tanjong Piai – November 16, 2019 and Local Elections – TBD

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
Population: 31.8 million

In last year’s parliamentary elections, Mahathir Mohamed led his Pakatan Haratan (Alliance of Hope) party to a surprise victory over the Barisan Nasional coalition and its primary member, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had been in power since Malaysia’s 1957 independence. In 1976, the government abolished local elections and instituted the practice of appointing the members of the country’s 146 local councils. Malaysia is currently debating whether to hold local elections.

Tanjong Piai is home to mainland Eurasia’s southernmost point. The parliamentary seat became open when incumbent Md Farid Md Rafik died of a heart attack on September 21 at age 42. Md Farid was a member of the PH, and he narrowly defeated incumbent Wee Jeck Seng from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a member of the BN coalition, and the PAS candidate in a three-way contest.

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

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Special Administrative Region within China
Population: 7.2 million

A series of massive protests – with as many as 2 million people in the streets on at least one occasion – has been taking place in Hong Kong since the beginning of the summer. The proximate cause was a controversial extradition bill, but even though the bill has been put on hold, protesters persist, calling for more democracy and free elections. The police have responded violently and pro-Beijing forces have sought to smear and demoralize the protesters. There are fears that Beijing could send troops, but Hong Kong’s activists vow to continue until they succeed in their goals.

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. The protest movement could boost the pro-democracy camp.

Kiribati Parliamentary – December 2019 and Presidential – March 2020

Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 109,367

During the last parliamentary election, held in December 2015 with a runoff in January 2016, the Boutokan te Koaua Party (BTK), whose name means Pillars of Truth, won 26 seats and two parties that merged to form the Tobwaan Kiribati Party (TBK), Embrace Kiribati, won 19 seats. A full 22 out of the 44 seats were won by new representatives, with some prominent incumbents – including ministers and a former president – losing their seats.

For the presidential elections, parliament chooses three or four candidates, and then a nationwide popular vote decides the winner. During the presidential election, Taaneti Mamau, nominated by TBK and the only opposition candidate, won. Neither party had a formal manifesto for the last elections, but the major issues were climate change and economic development.

Taiwan Presidential and Legislative – January 11, 2020

Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic
Population: 23.5 million

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. Beijing’s choice, Han Kuo-yu, the populist firebrand mayor of Kaohsiung, a major port city in the south, won the KMT primary. His opponent, Foxconn founder Terry Guo, Taiwan’s richest man, is mulling an independent bid in the general election.

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 interference from China. China is attempting to influence the upcoming elections as well.

Mongolia Parliamentary – June 2020

Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic
Population: 3.1 million

Mongolia has been a democracy since 1990 but is currently embroiled in political turmoil, and its safeguards of democracy are beginning to unravel. Politics are gridlocked due to hostilities between President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the center-right Democratic Party (DP) and the government, appointed by the left-wing Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds 65 out of 76 seats in the State Great Khural, Mongolia’s unicameral parliament. Battulga narrowly won in Mongolia’s first-ever presidential runoff 2017, and his DP only seven seats in parliament. Corruption has become a perennial problem, and has sparked protests, and many Mongolians are generally disillusioned with politicians.

New Zealand Parliamentary – by November 21, 2020 (likely to be earlier)

Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy (a Commonwealth realm)
Population: 4.5 million

New Zealand’s two main parties are the center-left Labour Party and center-right National Party. National won the most votes and seats in the 2017 elections, but not enough to form a government. Labour formed a coalition with New Zealand First, a populist party that has worked with both Labour and National in the past, backed by a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party (Labour and New Zealand First combined have the same number of seats as National – 55). Labour leader Jacinda Ardern – a former DJ who is on the left wing of the party – became Prime Minister and is currently the world’s youngest female government.

Burma/Myanmar Parliamentary – Expected late 2020

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Parliamentary Republic
Population: 55.6 million

Burma, also called Myanmar, seemed to be moving toward democracy following the  country’s first credible, relatively free elections in 2015, which swept Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) to power following decades of military dictatorship. Once held up by the global community as a paragon of moral authority for giving up her own freedom in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi’s tenure as the country’s de facto leader has disappointed many. Burma still has hundreds of political prisoners, including many who were arrested after the NLD came to power.

Ethnic conflicts continue between the dominant Burmans, who comprise roughly 60 percent of the population, and different minority groups. The crisis in Rakhine or Arakan State with the Muslim Rohingya, which some have called a genocide, has created 700,000 refugees in neighboring Bangladesh and 128,000 internally displaced people. During by-elections in 2018, the NLD won seven out of 13 seats, but lost five out of six in non-Burman areas.

Indonesia General – April 17, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 262.8 million

In Indonesia’s April 2019 election – the biggest single day of voting in the history of the world – incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi), widely seen as a reformer, defeated challenged Prabowo Subianto for the presidency in an election deemed free and fair by the international community. However, Prabowo didn’t accept the results, and in addition to challenging them in court, he urged his supporters to take to the streets. Rioting ensued. Prabowo ultimately accepted the results, but tensions remain, particularly regarding the role of religion in politics.

Upcoming Asia Elections
Sri Lanka Presidential – November 16, 2019 (confirmed) and Parliamentary – February 2020 (tentative)
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 22.6 million

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. SLPP did well in local elections last year.

Out of a record 35 presidential candidates, the two frontrunners former defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Mahinda’s brother), who has been accused of war crimes (Mahinda is not eligible to run for president again due to term limits adopted during Sirisena’s presidency), as well as Sajith Premadasa from UNP, who bested Wickremesinghe in the party’s bitterly-fought nomination contest. Premadasa is the son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa, and has sought to bolster his campaign’s national security credentials by promising to appoint a former wartime army chief as head of national security if elected. Rajapaksa is presenting himself as a strongman, promising to eliminate Islamist terrorists.

Sirisena has announced that he will not seek re-election, and for the first time ever, the SLFP will not be fielding a presidential candidate. Thus Sri Lanka’s party system is in the midst of a realignment. International observers have noted that the fluid party situation could make the election more competitive, but also note concerns about media bias, transparency in campaign finance, voter education, and party conduct. Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice, and the upcoming elections could well determine whether it strengthens or deteriorates.

Times of India: “Sri Lanka’s ruling party presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa has asked the main opposition leaderMahinda Rajapaksa not to fuel communal hatred over his plans for the devolution of power to the Tamil minority. His comment came after Rajapaksa accused Premadasa of diluting the unitary character of the state by his plans for devolution.”

Marwaan Macan-Markar, Nikkei Asian Review: “Sri Lanka presidential candidate eyes youth to beat pro-China rival: As campaigning enters the final stretch in Sri Lanka’s Nov. 16 presidential polls, Sajith Premadasa, the leading political moderate in the fray, is staking his hopes for victory on the country’s first-time voters.”

Meera Srinivasan, The Hindu: “In Presidential election, local is the national in Sri Lanka’s east: Voters are viewing the poll under two lenses — their suffering during the civil war years and soon after, and the local, communal contradiction.”

Mohammed Shihab, The Diplomat: “Sri Lanka’s Next President Will Inherit a Diplomatic Balancing Act: The country is situated at a geostrategic crossroads in close proximity to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Consequently, Sri Lanka has found itself in the middle of a competition between Indian and Chinese influence.”

Malaysia Parliamentary By-Election in Tanjong Piai – November 16, 2019 and Local Elections – TBD
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
Population: 31.8 million

In last year’s parliamentary elections, Mahathir Mohamed led his Pakatan Haratan (Alliance of Hope) party to a surprise victory over the Barisan Nasional coalition and its primary member, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had been in power since Malaysia’s 1957 independence. In 1976, the government abolished local elections and instituted the practice of appointing the members of the country’s 146 local councils. Malaysia is currently debating whether to hold local elections.

Tanjong Piai is home to mainland Eurasia’s southernmost point. The parliamentary seat became open when incumbent Md Farid Md Rafik died of a heart attack on September 21 at age 42. Md Farid was a member of the PH, and he narrowly defeated incumbent Wee Jeck Seng from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a member of the BN coalition, and the PAS candidate in a three-way contest.

Zainal Epi, Malay Mail: “A year after winning Tanjung Piai, Pakatan Harapan (PH) is in real jeopardy of losing the Johor parliamentary seat in just six days. Engaging in a verbal war aside, PH campaigners have not had much success in getting voters on their side but instead have been dealt hard blows by Barisan Nasional, now the Opposition.”

May Taylor, The Thaiger: “The Malaysian PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed publicly that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) will be his successor. The 94 year old PM was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in Bangkok yesterday, where he has been attending the ASEAN summit. Dr Mahatir confirmed he will stand down before the next general election, despite some calls for him to remain until the end of the current government’s mandate.”

Hong Kong District Councils – November 24, 2019 and Legislative Council – September 2020
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Special Administrative Region within China
Population: 7.2 million

A series of massive protests – with as many as 2 million people in the streets on at least one occasion – has been taking place in Hong Kong since the beginning of the summer. The proximate cause was a controversial extradition bill, but even though the bill has been put on hold, protesters persist, calling for more democracy and free elections. The police have responded violently and pro-Beijing forces have sought to smear and demoralize the protesters. There are fears that Beijing could send troops, but Hong Kong’s activists vow to continue until they succeed in their goals.

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. The protest movement could boost the pro-democracy camp.

Mary Hui, Quartz: “Candidates in Hong Kong’s elections are getting knifed, beaten, and now bitten: Every week, more names join the list of pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong’s upcoming local elections who have been assaulted.”

Iain Marlow and Natalie Leung, Bloomberg: “Hong Kong Stabbing in Broad Daylight Raises Election Safety Questions”

Gary Cheung and Kimmy Chung, South China Morning Post: “Will Hong Kong’s district council elections be postponed? Officials watching if protest violence persists, but decision might be pushed to polling day on November 24.”

Updated November 10, 2019

Joanne Chiu, Wall Street Journal: “Hong Kong Arrests Pro-Democracy Lawmakers Ahead of Local Elections: Some lawmakers accuse authorities of trying to create fear and chaos to postpone the poll, as antigovernment protests stretch on.”

Jessie Pang and Joyce Zhou, Reuters: “Police fired tear gas and water cannon to break up rallies as activists blocked roads and trashed shopping malls across Hong Kong’s New Territories and Kowloon peninsula on Sunday during the 24th straight weekend of anti-government unrest.”

Kiribati Parliamentary – December 2019 and Presidential – March 2020
Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 109,367

During the last parliamentary election, held in December 2015 with a runoff in January 2016, the Boutokan te Koaua Party (BTK), whose name means Pillars of Truth, won 26 seats and two parties that merged to form the Tobwaan Kiribati Party (TBK), Embrace Kiribati, won 19 seats. A full 22 out of the 44 seats were won by new representatives, with some prominent incumbents – including ministers and a former president – losing their seats.

For the presidential elections, parliament chooses three or four candidates, and then a nationwide popular vote decides the winner. During the presidential election, Taaneti Mamau, nominated by TBK and the only opposition candidate, won. Neither party had a formal manifesto for the last elections, but the major issues were climate change and economic development.

RNZ (New Zealand): “Kiribati opposition MP calls for president to step down: An opposition MP in Kiribati is calling for the president to step down after the government lost its majority for the first time in three years.”

Dateline Pacific/RNZ: “A new Kiribati opposition party says the government is too close to China and its time is up. The Kiribati Moa, or Kiribati First Party, has helped win the opposition a majority in parliament for the first time in three years. It’s seeking High Court backing for a motion of no confidence against the president, and to call fresh elections.”

The Economist: “Why politics in the south Pacific are so precarious: Promises of corrugated iron roofs are more important than party affiliations.”

Taiwan Presidential and Legislative – January 11, 2020
Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic
Population: 23.5 million

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. Beijing’s choice, Han Kuo-yu, the populist firebrand mayor of Kaohsiung, a major port city in the south, won the KMT primary. His opponent, Foxconn founder Terry Guo, Taiwan’s richest man, is mulling an independent bid in the general election.

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 interference from China. China is attempting to influence the upcoming elections as well.

Joshua Kurlantzick, CFR: “How China Is Interfering in Taiwan’s Election: Beijing is spreading disinformation to influence Taiwan’s election in January, but that doesn’t necessarily mean President Tsai Ing-wen will get voted out.”

Richard McGregor, Bloomberg: “China Is Sabotaging Itself in Taiwan: The logic of politics in the Xi Jinping era makes a softer line untenable, even if it’s having the opposite of the desired effect.”

Sarah Zheng, South China Morning Post: “As Taiwan’s 2020 presidential race approaches, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party will be counting on the support of one of its most loyal constituencies – the Taiwanese business community living and working on the mainland. But some analysts believe their influence is a diminishing force in the self-ruled island’s politics.”

Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher, Reuters: “Beijing could resort to military conflict with self-ruled Taiwan to divert domestic pressure if a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy amid trade war threatens the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, the island’s foreign minister has said.”

Updated November 11, 2019

AP: “The pro-China opposition candidate in Taiwan’s presidential election set for early next year has chosen a former Google executive as his running mate. Chang San-cheng, a political independent, on Monday joined the ticket of Nationalist Party candidate Han Kuo-yu, who lags behind Democratic Progressive Party incumbent Tsai Ing-wen in most polls.”

Mongolia Parliamentary – June 2020
Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic
Population: 3.1 million

Mongolia has been a democracy since 1990 but is currently embroiled in political turmoil, and its safeguards of democracy are beginning to unravel. Politics are gridlocked due to hostilities between President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the center-right Democratic Party (DP) and the government, appointed by the left-wing Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds 65 out of 76 seats in the State Great Khural, Mongolia’s unicameral parliament. Battulga narrowly won in Mongolia’s first-ever presidential runoff 2017, and his DP only seven seats in parliament. Corruption has become a perennial problem, and has sparked protests, and many Mongolians are generally disillusioned with politicians.

Aubrey Menarndt, Washington Post’s Money Cage: “In Mongolia, proposed legislation endangers civil society”

New Zealand Parliamentary – by November 21, 2020 (likely to be earlier)
Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy (a Commonwealth realm)
Population: 4.5 million

New Zealand’s two main parties are the center-left Labour Party and center-right National Party. National won the most votes and seats in the 2017 elections, but not enough to form a government. Labour formed a coalition with New Zealand First, a populist party that has worked with both Labour and National in the past, backed by a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party (Labour and New Zealand First combined have the same number of seats as National – 55). Labour leader Jacinda Ardern – a former DJ who is on the left wing of the party – became Prime Minister and is currently the world’s youngest female government.

Praveen Menon, Reuters: “The former Chief Executive of Air New Zealand and one of the nation’s most prominent businessman, Christopher Luxon, will join the opposition National Party as a candidate in next year’s general election.”

Henry Cooke, Stuff (New Zealand): “Sustainable NZ party launches, promising to be a ‘full-time environmental party’”

Bryce Edwards, The Guardian: “Jacinda Ardern has a major problem with minor parties, and it could seal her fate: With micro-parties poised to steal votes from the PM’s coalition partners, it could sink them all in 2020 election.”

Dileepa Fonseka, Newsroom (New Zealand): “Local election overhaul may follow recounts and coin tosses: After one recount appeal kept Wellington waiting and another led to a controversial outcome, the Government is investigating if the law needs to be overhauled.”

Burma/Myanmar Parliamentary – Expected late 2020
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Parliamentary Republic
Population: 55.6 million

Burma, also called Myanmar, seemed to be moving toward democracy following the  country’s first credible, relatively free elections in 2015, which swept Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) to power following decades of military dictatorship. Once held up by the global community as a paragon of moral authority for giving up her own freedom in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi’s tenure as the country’s de facto leader has disappointed many. Burma still has hundreds of political prisoners, including many who were arrested after the NLD came to power.

Ethnic conflicts continue between the dominant Burmans, who comprise roughly 60 percent of the population, and different minority groups. The crisis in Rakhine or Arakan State with the Muslim Rohingya, which some have called a genocide, has created 700,000 refugees in neighboring Bangladesh and 128,000 internally displaced people. During by-elections in 2018, the NLD won seven out of 13 seats, but lost five out of six in non-Burman areas.

Htet Naing Zaw, The Irrawaddy: “NLD Vice Chairman’s Poor Health Threatens Party’s Prospects in Myanmar’s 2020 Election”

Lev Puri, Frontline (India): “As Myanmar gets set for the 2020 general election, peaceful and inclusive democracy remains a far cry: in fact Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has reinforced the military outlook on critical issues.”

University of Sydney: “Fake news, hate speech on social media impacting Myanmar’s youth: A report led by the University of Sydney and Save the Children, launched in London, shows social media may be undermining democracy, revealing the extent to which youth are vulnerable to abuse, hate speech and fake news.”

Flemming Splidsboel Hansen and Adam Moe Fejerskov, Scientific Nordic: “Disinformation goes South: In the Global South, social media monopolies and a surge in digital media users allow information operations to reach millions and affect political elections and developments. The consequences can be fatal, as seen in Myanmar.”

UCAN/Eurasia Review: “A Myanmar court has granted bail to a senior Buddhist monk facing defamation charges for allegedly calling the country’s military thieves and robbers in an interview with a local news and entertainment website.”

Nan Lwin, The Irrawaddy: “China is rebranding and repackaging dormant or delayed projects in Myanmar under the banner of its Belt and Road Initiative, many of whose projects lack transparency and consultation with affected communities, according to the latest policy brief by a Netherlands-based research and advocacy institute.”

Past Asia Elections
Indonesia General – April 17, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 262.8 million

In Indonesia’s April 2019 election – the biggest single day of voting in the history of the world – incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi), widely seen as a reformer, defeated challenged Prabowo Subianto for the presidency in an election deemed free and fair by the international community. However, Prabowo didn’t accept the results, and in addition to challenging them in court, he urged his supporters to take to the streets. Rioting ensued. Prabowo ultimately accepted the results, but tensions remain, particularly regarding the role of religion in politics.

Indonesia will hold regional elections in September 2020, and the next presidential election is due in 2024.

Endy M. Bayuni, Jakarta Post: “Less polarized Indonesia offers some respite for democracy….The decision for the two political rivals to work together after the election, albeit not as equals but more like a boss and an assistant, has had an unintended consequence: It ended popular polarization as we know it. At least for now.”


Indonesian president Joko Widodo (right) and former rival Prabowo Subianto (left) have called a truce, potentially lessening Indonesia’s political polarization. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Government of Indonesia (public domain)

21votes does not necessarily endorse all of the views in all of the linked articles or publications. More on our approach here.

The Year Ahead: Asia Elections
Marshall Islands legislative (November); India Jharkhand State (November); Sri Lanka presidential (November 16); Hong Kong local (November 24); Kiribati legislative (December); Nepal by-elections (December 30); Taiwan presidential and legislative (January 11); Kiribati presidential (March); Maldives local (April); South Korea parliamentary (April 15); Niue parliamentary (May); Philippines village and youth council (May 11 – delay to 2023 possible); Mongolia parliamentary (June)

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