Asia This Week: February 26, 2021

February 26, 2021

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.

The meeting place of India’s West Bengal Legislative Assembly in Kolkata. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Sujay25 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Asia Elections

India: Five State Elections in 2021

Five Indian states (Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal) are due to hold Legislative Assembly elections in 2021. More

Times of India (February 26, 2021): Election Commission announces poll dates for West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry: Key Points

Bibhudatta Pradhan, Bloomberg (February 26, 2021): Modi’s Popularity to Be Tested in State Polls as Virus Surges

Editorial Board, Washington Post (February 24, 2021): Opinion: The arrest of this activist should put India’s ‘democracy’ title in question

Australia, Western Australia State Elections: March 13, 2021 and New South Wales Local Elections: September 2021 (due)

Several Australian states hold elections in 2021. Western Australia holds state elections on March 13, 2021, and New South Wales is due to hold local elections in September 2021. After that, federal parliamentary elections are due by 2022, but snap elections could happen. More

Adran Beaumont, The Conversation (February 21, 2021): Whopping lead for Labor ahead of WA election, but federal Newspoll deadlocked at 50-50

South Korea By-Elections: April 7, 2021

South Korea’s April 7 by-elections are more important than usual because both Seoul and Busan (South Korea’s second-largest city) both hold special elections for mayor. This is because the former mayor of Seoul died and the former mayor of Busan stepped down in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Several other municipal posts throughout the country are up for election as well.

Jeong-Ho Lee and Jihye Lee, Bloomberg (February 25, 2021): Seoul May Elect First Female Mayor as Scandal Stirs Moon’s Party

Maldives Local Elections: April 10, 2021

Maldives has scheduled local elections for April 10, 2021, following a delay due to COVID-19. Voters will elect island, atoll, and city councils to three-year terms. More

Aishath Hanaan Hussain Rasheed, Raajje (February 26, 2021): Decentralization is the only effective governance-solution: President Solih

Hong Kong Legislative Elections: September 5, 2021

Hong Kong plans to hold elections to the Legislative Council on September 5, 2021. These elections are taking place in the context of Beijing’s determination to gut Hong Kong’s democracy. More

The Economist (February 27, 2021): China is mulling changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system

Alfred Liu, Natalie Lung, and Kari Soo Lindberg, Bloomberg (February 26, 2021): Hong Kong Activists Summoned by Police in National Security Case

Pak Yiu, Reuters (February 26, 2021): Exclusive: Two rights groups quit Hong Kong as security law sends shudders through NGOs

Selina Cheng, Hong Kong Free Press (February 25, 2021): Beijing loyalists urge reforms to ensure only ‘patriots’ win in Hong Kong elections

Rachel Cheung, World Politics Review (February 24, 2021): China Targets the Last Vestige of Hong Kong’s Democracy

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

Malaysia’s 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. More

IPS Journal, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (February 26, 2021): The abrupt end to Malaysia’s democratic awakening

AFP (February 24, 2021): Malaysian king says parliament can sit, in blow for embattled PM

Melissa Goh, Channel News Asia (February 24, 2021): Elections can be held in Malaysia when half of population is vaccinated against COVID-19: Khairy

P Prem Kumar, Nikkei Asia (February 14, 2021): Malaysia’s UMNO bets on itself before election clash with Muhyiddin

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. 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.

CNN Philippines (February 23, 2021): Sara Duterte leads May 2022 presidential, VP elections survey

Nepal Parliamentary Elections: 2023 (due – snap elections possible)

In December, Nepal’s prime minister decided to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. However, on February 23, the Supreme Court overturned the decision. Nepal’s political crisis continues. More

Hani Bansh Jha, Observer Research Foundation (February 26, 2021): Nepal: Supreme Court’s verdict on dissolution of Parliament and the emerging situation

Gopal Sharma, Reuters (February 23, 2021): Nepal’s top court orders reinstatement of parliament in blow to PM

Past Asia Elections

Laos Parliamentary Elections: February 21, 2021

Laos held parliamentary elections and provincial on February 21, 2021. Laos is a one-party communist state. Democracy activists and dissidents face arrest and forced disappearances. Moreover, there is no organized opposition in the country. Therefore, elections are neither free nor fair, and do not offer voters any real choices. More

Maria Siow, South China Morning Post (February 21, 2021): Laos leaders fear ‘domino effect’ of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement amid election

Mu Sochua, The Diplomat (February 19, 2021): Laos’ Pointless Election

Burma General Elections: November 8, 2020

Burma, also called Myanmar, held general elections on November 8, 2020. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide. However, on February 1, the military staged a coup, claiming election fraud (despite a lack of evidence). More

The Irrawaddy (February 26, 2021): Injuries and Arrests Mount as Myanmar Police Intensify Crackdown on Protesters

BBC (February 25, 2021): Myanmar coup: Protesters attacked with knives, clubs in Yangon

Victoria Milko, AP (February 24, 2021): Experts fear fresh wave of political prisoners in Myanmar

Voice of America (February 20, 2021): 2 Myanmar Anti-Coup Protesters Reported Killed by Gunfire

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