Asia

December 11, 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.


Soldiers and military police face off against protesters in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2010. Protests are happening once again in Thailand, with demonstrators demanding unprecedented reforms as the country heads into provincial elections later this month. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Takeaway (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Asia Elections

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

The Economist (December 12, 2020): Thailand’s absolutist king is on his best behaviour. But protesters do not believe he is prepared to relinquish any power

Mazoe Ford, ABC News Australia (December 10, 2020): Thai parents urged to write their children out of their wills as youth-led protest movement grows

Randy Thanthong-Knight, Bloomberg (December 8, 2020): Thai Demonstrators Plan Protest Against Royal Defamation Law

Tamara Loose, Foreign Affairs (December 7, 2020): A Revolutionary Change in Thailand

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

Dhaka Tribune (December 9, 2020): Elections to nearly 100 local bodies Thursday

Rashidul Hasan, The Daily Star (December 9, 2020): Hefajat-e Islam: Politicking in the garb of religion

Smruti S. Pattanaik, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (December 11, 2020): Hefajat-e-Islami and the Politics of Islamism in Bangladesh

India State and Local Elections: Various Times

India’s states hold local elections at various times. Moreover, five states (Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal) are due to hold Legislative Assembly elections in 2021. On the national stage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a massive victory in the 2019 elections to the Lok Sabha. Those elections gave BJP a second term in power as the majority party able to govern without coalition partners, in an increasingly polarized political climate. The main opposition social democratic Congress Party – India’s oldest party – has done well in a series of state elections but is reeling from the whiplash of defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.

Shreya, One India (December 9, 2020): State Assembly Elections slated to happen in 2021

Times of India (December 10, 2020): Big blow for Congress in Rajasthan as BJP sweeps local body polls

Prashant Waikar, The Diplomat (December 8, 2020): What a City Election in Hyderabad Says About the BJP’s National Strategy

Makepeace Sitlhou , Al Jazeera (December 7, 2020): In India’s Assam, a young Muslim leader fights election to unite

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

Jadyn Sham and Helen Regan, CNN (December 11, 2020): Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under national security law

Phila Siu and Natalie Wong, South China Morning Post (December 6, 2020): Pro-mainland Chinese financiers based in Hong Kong launch new Bauhinia Party aimed at reforming Legco, restraining ‘extremist forces’

Selina Cheng, Hong Kong Free Press (December 10, 2020): Hong Kong’s new pro-establishment political party wants ‘100 years of One Country, Two Systems’

Past Asia Elections

Indonesia Local and Provincial Elections: December 9, 2020

Indonesia held local and provincial elections on December 9, 2020. More than 100 million eligible voters elected 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

Shotaro Tani, Nikkei Asia (December 9, 2020): Jokowi’s son set to win mayoral election in Indonesia’s Solo

Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel News Asia (December 7, 2020 – video): Indonesia’s regional elections cast political dynasties in spotlight

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

Human Rights Watch (December 9, 2020): Myanmar: Arrest for Alleging Voter Intimidation

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (December 7, 2020): Ceasefire Raises Hopes of Elections in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

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