Asia This Week: November 20, 2020

November 20, 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.

Mount Tongkoko, a volcano in North Sulawesi, one of the regions of Indonesia holding elections on December 9. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Lip Kee Yap (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Asia Elections

Malaysia By-Election in Sabah: December 5, 2020 (postponed)

Hazlin Hassan, The Straits Times (November 18, 2020): Malaysia declares state of emergency in Sabah constituency to postpone by-election

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 politicsMore

Chandini Vasandani, The Australian (November 20, 2020): Coronavirus: Indonesia poll to go ahead despite outbreak fears

A’an Suryana and Nur Syafiqah Mohd Taufek, Lowy Institute (November 19, 2020): A firebrand cleric’s return boosts Islamist politics

Coconuts Jakarta (November 18, 2020): Islamic group threatens mass 212 rally if regional elections go ahead amid pandemic

Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Kate Lamb, and Stanley Widianto, Reuters (November 18, 2020): In Indonesia, making of a mayor sparks talk of nation’s newest dynasty

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

Nick Nostitz, Nikkei Asia (November 21, 2020): Thailand’s political convulsions are far from spontaneous

Scott Neuman and Michael Sullivan, NPR (November 19, 2020): Thailand’s Prime Minister Signals Tougher Measures Against Anti-Government Protests

Maldives Local Elections: March 6, 2021

Maldives is due to hold local elections. The Election Commission has indicated that the polls will take place on March 6, 2021, but the date is not officially confirmed. 

Maldives, an idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago usually associated with honeymoons and oligarchs, lived under a brutal dictatorship for decades. However, the country had a remarkable transition to democracy in 2008. However, the consolidation of democracy remains an ongoing challenge. Moreover, Maldives has become a flashpoint for geopolitical competition in the Indian Ocean. More

Fathmath Udhma, Raajje (November 18, 2020): Local Council Election to be held on March 6, 2021

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 dissentMore

Jessie Lau, The Diplomat (November 19, 2020): The Impact of Hong Kong’s Opposition-Less Legislature

Jen Kirby, Vox (November 17, 2020): Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers quit en masse. One explains why.

Holmes Chan, Lowy Institute (November 16, 2020): End of the road for Hong
Kong’s opposition camp?

Reuters (November 18, 2020): ‘Five Eyes’ alliance urges China to end crackdown on Hong Kong legislators

AP (November 19, 2020): China says Five Eyes alliance will be ‘poked and blinded’ over Hong Kong stance

Past Asia Elections

Solomon Islands By-Elections in Central Honiara and Northeast Guadalcanal: November 18, 2020

RNZ (November 19, 2020): Counting underway in Solomons by-elections

Amnesty International (November 17, 2020): Solomon Islands: Total Facebook ban over criticism of government is brazen attack on freedom of expression

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. Five other states are due to hold elections in 2021. More

Ambar Kumar Ghosh, Observer Research Foundation (November 18, 2020): Dissecting the Bihar Assembly elections

Gilles VerniersMohit Kumar, and Neelesh Agrawal, (November 15, 2020): Decoding the Bihar results in 32 charts: Turnouts, vote shares, victory margins and more

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

Zsombor Peter, Voice of America (November 15, 2020): Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD Win Second Landslide Election in Myanmar

Shibani Mahtani and Cape Diamond, Washington Post (November 18, 2020): Suu Kyi’s godlike status drove her Myanmar election win. It threatens to rip the country apart.

Cape Diamond, DW (November 20, 2020 – video): Myanmar: How a disgruntled Rohingya politician sees the election

Kyaw Hsan Hlaing, Time (November 16, 2020): People in Parts of Myanmar Are Living Under the World’s Longest Internet Shutdown. It’s Putting Lives in Danger

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (November 17, 2020): How Will Myanmar’s Election Affect Its Foreign Policy?

Palau Presidential and Legisative Elections: November 3, 2020

Palau, an independent country in free association with the United States and located strategically in the Pacific, recently held presidential and legislative elections.  More

Ching-Tse Cheng, Taiwan News (November 18, 2020): Taiwan congratulates Surangel Whipps Jr. on winning Palau presidential election

Cultural Note

Indonesian election news is more fun when read while eating sambal.

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

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