Asia This Week: November 13, 2020

November 13, 2020

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in Asia and the Pacific, usually posted on Fridays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

Protest in in Pattani Province in August 2020. Thailand holds provincial elections in December amid widespread protests for unprecedented reforms. The protests began in February 2020 and are ongoing. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Prachatai (CC BY 3.0)

Upcoming Asia Elections

Indonesia Local and Provincial Elections: December 9, 2020

Indonesia will hold local and provincial elections on December 9, 2020. In these elections, Indonesians will elect governors in nine of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, plus regents in 224 districts, mayors in 37 cities and 32 provinces across Indonesia. There are more than 100 million eligible voters.

In Indonesia’s April 2019 elections – 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 subsequently ensued. Prabowo ultimately accepted the results, but tensions remain, particularly regarding the role of religion in politics. More

Nicky Aulia Widadio, Andalou Agency (November 11, 2020): Indonesia to hold polls amid strict virus protocols – Around 100 million voters in 270 constituencies to cast vote in local elections on Dec. 9

Erwida Maulia, Nikkei Asia (November 10, 2020): Indonesian Islamist leader urges ‘moral revolution’ on return home

Thailand Provincial Elections: December 20, 2020 (other local elections to follow)

Thailand plans to hold provincial elections on December 20, 2020, the first since the country’s 2014. Voters will elect provincial administration organization (PAO) members in 76 provinces. After that, officials have said they will schedule elections for other types of local elections (such as municipal offices and Bangkok city council).

These elections are taking place in the context of unprecedented protests against the monarchy, and calls for unprecedented types of reforms. These protests have been going on for months. More

John Silk, DW (November 14, 2020): Thailand: Protesters keep up pressure on prime minister to quit

Bangkok Post (November 9, 2020): 8,641 apply to run in provincial elections

Bangkok Post (November 8, 2020): Most say national politics do not affect provincial elections: poll

Panarat Thepgumpanat, Reuters (November 11, 2020): Thai monks ordered not to join protests

Hong Kong Legislative Elections: September 5, 2021

Hong Kong plans to hold elections to the Legislative Council on September 5, 2021. These elections were due in September 2020, but were postponed for a year. The stated reason was COVID-19, but many in the pro-democracy camp believe the delay had more to do with political concerns.

These elections are taking place in the context of Beijing consolidating its power over Hong Kong and a draconian new security law that authorities have used to crush Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and criminalize dissent. More

Helen Regan, Ben Westcott and Jadyn Sham, CNN (November 11, 2020): Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers resign en masse after Beijing moves to quash dissent

Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May and Elaine Yu, New York Times (November 11, 2020): China Targets Hong Kong’s Lawmakers as It Squelches Dissent

Hong Kong Free Press (November 12, 2020): Explainer: How – and why – Hong Kong’s legislative opposition ground to a halt

Austin Ramzy, New York Times (November 10, 2020): Hong Kong Protest Icon Mysteriously Vanished. Then She Returned, Unbowed.

Reuters (November 11, 2020): TIMELINE-The impact of the national security law on Hong Kong

Gary Schmitt and Ellen Bork, The Hill (November 13, 2020): A cry for democracy in Hong Kong

Editorial Board, Washington Post (November 13, 2020): China strikes its worst blow yet against autonomy and rule of law in Hong Kong

Philippines Presidential Election: May 9, 2022

In 2016, populist firebrand Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency, claiming to be an outsider. He has governed with an iron fist, waging a drug war that has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings, sparking an investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The government has cracked down on critics, including elected officials and journalists. Duterte allies swept the 2019 midterm legislative and local elections. Although he is banned from seeking a second term, critics fear that he will seek to consolidate illiberalism in the form of a handpicked successor.

David Hutt, The Diplomat (November 12, 2020): Next Philippine Election Looms as an Institutional Stress Test

Past Asia Elections

India Bihar State Elections and Various By-Elections: October 28-November 7, 2020

India’s Bihar State held elections to its Legislative Assembly between October 28 and November 7, 2020. Additionally, 14 states will hold by-elections to fill 64 seats in 14 state legislative assemblies. As policy analyst Aditi Dayal noted before the elections: “These will be the largest voting exercise globally since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  pulled off a victory in Bihar, to the surprise of some analysts. More

Julia Hollingsworth and Manveena Suri, CNN (November 11, 2020): Modi declares victory in India’s first coronavirus election as cases soar in country’s capital

Billy Perrigo,Time (November 11, 2020): India’s Narendra Modi Just Won a Crucial State Election Despite COVID-19. It’s a Triumph for His Hindu Nationalist Message

Emily Schmall and Hari Kumar, New York Times (November 9, 2020): India’s Modi Reverses His Fortunes in Crucial State

Rajesh Roy and Eric Bellman, Wall Street Journal (November 10, 2020): India Vote Shows How Narendra Modi Is Buffered From Covid-19 Fallout

Burma General Elections: November 8, 2020

Burma, also called Myanmar, held general elections on November 8, 2020. Burma 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. Nonetheless, the NLD won a second term following these elections. More

Ashley Westerman, NPR (November 12, 2020): Myanmar Election: Suu Kyi’s Party Poised For 2nd Term

Nehginpao Kipgen, Channel News Asia (November 14, 2020): Commentary: Why Myanmar voted overwhelmingly for Aung San Suu Kyi again

Mong Palatino, Global Voices (November 12, 2020): What election observers are saying about Myanmar’s election

Reuters (November 9, 2020): Pompeo says U.S. has concerns about Myanmar elections, will closely monitor process

Hannah Beech and Saw Nang, New York Times (November 8, 2020): Strong Turnout in Myanmar Shows Voters’ Support for Nascent Democracy

The Economist (November 7, 2020): Aung San Suu Kyi was supposed to set Burmese democracy free. Instead she has clipped its wings.

Bangladesh Parliamentary By-Elections in Dhaka-18 and Sirajganj-1 Constituencies

Bangladesh held general elections to the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) in December 2018 amid political violence and harassment of the opposition. The Awami League (AL) AL has been in power since 2009 and is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Nawaz Farhin Antara, Dhaka Tribune (November 12, 2020): By-elections to Dhaka 18 underway

NE Now News (November 12, 2020): Bangladesh: BNP workers set 7 buses on fire in Dhaka

United News of Bangladesh (November 12, 2020): AL candidates win Dhaka-18, Sirajganj-1 by-elections

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