Asia

December 4, 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 Tangkoko in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. North Sulawesi is one of the provinces holding elections on December 9. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Lip Kee Yap (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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

Bilveer Singh, The Diplomat (December 4, 2020): What Does Rizieq Shihab’s Return Mean for Indonesian Politics?

Johannes Lugroho, Lowy Institue’s The Interpreter (December 4, 2020): Indonesia’s Omnibus
Law won’t kill corruption

The Economist (December 3, 2020): Indonesian politics is becoming a family affair

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

Voice of America (December 2, 2020): Thai Prime Minister Not Guilty; Protesters Decry Justice System

Doug Bandow, Foreign Policy (December 3, 2020): Thailand’s Military Is Getting Ready for Another Crackdown

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.

Prothom Alo (December 2, 2020): Second phase polls to 61 municipalities 16 Jan

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

Tashny Sukumaran and Bhavan Jaipragas, South China Morning Post (December 5, 2020): The nearly man: will Anwar Ibrahim ever lead Malaysia?

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

Jen Kirby, Vox (December 2, 2020): 3 Hong Kong pro-democracy icons were sentenced to prison in huge blow to protest movement

Reuters (December 2, 2020): Factbox: Who is Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong activist jailed for a 2019 protest?

Simon Shen, The Diplomat (December 2, 2020): Is Hong Kong Heading Toward a Russian-Style Electoral System?

Radio Free Asia (November 30, 2020): Last Opposition Lawmakers Leave Hong Kong’s Legislature After Mass Resignations

Past Asia Elections

India, Kashmir Local Elections: November 28, 2020

In a surprise geopolitical development, on August 5, 2019, the Modi government made a unilateral decision to strip the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir of its autonomy. The region, which is majority Muslim, is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has sparked three wars. The area has been on virtual lockdown for over a year, and many have been detained, including prominent political leaders. More

Rifat Fareed, Al Jazeera (December 4, 2020): What do the local elections mean for Kashmiris?

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

Yuichi Nitta, Nikkei Asia (December 4, 2020): Japan urges Suu Kyi to hold by-elections in Myanmar ethnic state

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