Asia This Week: November 27, 2020

November 27, 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.

Sadarghat, a wharf at the Port of Dhaka on the Buriganga River in Bangladesh. Bangladesh holds the first stage of municipal elections in December. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Hiroki Ogawa (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. More than 100 million eligible voters will elect governors in nine of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, plus regents in 224 districts, mayors in 37 cities and 32 provinces across Indonesia.

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 challenger Prabowo Subianto for the presidency. Prabowo initially refused to accept the results, and rioting subsequently ensued. Prabowo ultimately did accept the results, but tensions remain, particularly regarding the role of religion in politicsMore

Erwida Maulia, Nikkei Asia (November 24, 2020): How firebrand cleric Habib Rizieq plans to Islamize Indonesia

Tom Batchelor, The Independent (November 29, 2020): Indonesian volcano erupts forcing thousands to flee as ash and smoke spew four kilometres into sky

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

AP (November 28, 2020): Thailand’s pro-democracy protesters warn of possible coup

Patrick Smith and Nat Sumon, NBC (November 25, 2020): Young protesters in Thailand risk much to demand change from military, monarchy

Kostia Prodromidès and Aurore Castel, France24 (November 23, 2020 – video): Longing for change: Meet Thailand’s pro-democracy protesters

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (November 24,  2020): Duncan McCargo on Thailand’s New Political Force

Bangladesh Municipal Elections Stage One: December 28, 2020

Bangladesh will hold municipal elections in five stages over the course of the next few months. The coutnry 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.

Dhaka Tribune (November 22, 2020): First phase of municipality election on Dec 28

Tibet Government-in-Exile Elections: January 2021

Gagandeep Singh Dhillon, The Indian Express (November 22, 2020): Explained: How Tibetans across the world will elect their parliament in exile

Radio Free Asia (November 23, 2020): Tibetan Exile Political Leader Makes ‘Landmark’ First Visit to White House

Maldives Local Elections: March 6, 2021

Maldives is due to hold local elections, which will likely take place on March 6, 2021. The country, 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

Aishath Shaany, Raajje (November 26, 2020): 86 candidates withdraw from local elections

Nectar Gan, CNN (November 25, 2020): A tale of two bridges: India and China vying for influence in the Maldives

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

Eric Cheung, Jadyn Sham and James Griffiths, CNN (November 23, 2020): Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong facing prison after guilty plea over 2019 protest

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Time (November 25, 2020): All Seems Lost for Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement as Joshua Wong Faces Jail. But There Are Still Reasons for Hope.

Yi-Zheng Lian, New York Times (November 25, 2020): Reports of Hong Kong’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Leïla Choukroune, The Conversation (November 23, 2020): Heavy hand of China is prompting fears for Hong Kong’s future as a major business hub

Malaysia Sarawak State Elections: By August 7, 2021 and Possible Snap Parliamentary Elections

Malaysia is not due to hold parliamentary elections until May 2023, but the fragile political situation means snap elections are possible, and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has indicated that he will in fact call early general elections once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Meanwhile, several of Malaysia’s states are due to hold elections in the next year. The country’s politics have been turbulent since the historic defeat of UMNO – which had ruled since 1957 – in the 2018 elections. UMNO is back in power but hanging on by a thread. To complicate matters further, the country is also due to hold several by-elections, but the government is delaying them, ostensibly due to COVID-19. However, the opposition is likely to win the by-elections, so delays prevent the government’s majority from narrowing even more.  More

The Straits Times (November 28, 2020): Malaysia’s PM Muhyiddin says he will call for general election once Covid-19 pandemic is over

Zsombor Peter, Voice of America (November 25, 2020): Malaysia’s Government, Prime Minister Face Make-or-Break Budget Vote

Minderjeet Kaur, Free Malaysia Today (November 27, 2020): Gerik, Bugaya by-elections on Jan 16, says EC

Umair Jamal, ASEAN Today (November 29, 2020): The potential impacts of Malaysia postponing by-elections as COVID-19 cases rise

Past Asia Elections

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

Andrew Nachemson and Naw Betty Han, Al Jazeera (November 27, 2020): Ethnic tension, conflicts key concern for Myanmar’s incoming MPs

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (November 26, 2020): What’s Next for Myanmar’s Military Proxy Party?

Min Zin, New York Times (November 23, 2020): Myanmar Still Loves Aung San Suu Kyi, but Not for the Reasons You Think

AFP (November 23, 2020): Myanmar’s genocide against Rohingya not over, says rights group

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