March 12, 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.
Protesters against the coup in Burma carrying signs reading “Free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi” on February 8, 2021. Photo credit: Wikimedia/သူထွန်း (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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
Nicholas Perpitch, ABC News (March 10, 2021): WA election: Major party jobs plans unrealistic and unsustainable, senior economist says
Adrian Beaumont, The Conversation (March 9, 2021): WA election could be historical Labor landslide, but party with less than 1% vote may win upper house seat
Japan, Chiba Prefecture Gubernatorial Election: March 21, 2021
Japan’s 47 prefectures hold gubernatorial elections at various times. Chiba Prefecture, part of the greater Tokyo area, elects its governor on March 21, 2021.
Indian Express (March 12, 2021): Japanese candidate runs for office dressed as Joker, sets internet abuzz
Yep – more info here for anyone wanting more background info!https://t.co/weaNV2xvq1
— Oona McGee 🇯🇵🇮🇪🇦🇺 (@OonaMcGee) March 9, 2021
Thailand Municipal Elections: March 28, 2021
Thailand holds municipal elections on March 28, 2021. These follow the December 20, 2020 provincial elections, the first since the country’s 2014. After that, officials have said they will schedule elections for other types of local elections (such as municipal offices and Bangkok city council). More
Randy Thanthong-Knight, Bloomberg (March 11, 2021): Thai Court Delays Constitution Rewrite in Setback for Protesters
Maxwell Abbott, The Diplomat (March 9, 2021): How Are Thailand’s Youth Protests Impacting Foreign Investment?
Ann Carter, The Thaiger (March 6, 2021): Freedom House downgrades Thailand to “not free”
India: Five State Elections: March 27-May 2, 2021
Elections in four Indian states (West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala) and one union territory (Puducherry) begin on March 27 and will conclude on May 2. These elections, involving 180 million voters, will be a key test for the national parties, but regional parties also play a big role. Meanwhile, farmers protests continue in and around New Delhi. More
National Herald (March 11, 2021): Annual report by Swedish institute downgrades India from ‘world’s largest democracy’ to ‘electoral autocracy’
Asaduddin Owaisi, Hindustan Times (March 12, 2021): Opinion: India must reject the one nation-one election idea
Jyotsna Mohan, Gulf News (March 10, 2021): Elections 2021: State of play as key Indian states get ready for polls
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.
Reuters (March 9, 2021): Property scandal upends South Korea ahead of key elections
Yonhap (March 7, 2021): Month before Seoul mayor election, unifying opposition candidacies remains key factor
Jeong-Ho Lee, Bloomberg (March 9, 2021): South Korea Ruling Party Leader Resigns in Likely Presidency Bid: Lee Nak-yon steps down after serving seven months as leader
Yosuke Onchi, Nikkei Asia (March 9, 2021): Yoon Seok-youl takes lead in running for South Korean presidency: Conservatives pin hopes on former top prosecutor to win election next March
NHK (March 8, 2021): One year until S.Korea presidential election
Vietnam Legislative Elections: May 23, 2021
Vietnam, a one-party communist state, is due to hold legislative elections on May 23, 2021. For the most part, only candidates from the Communist Party of Vietnam and those who support it are able to run. In addition, dissidents face arrest and assault. More
An Hai, VOA (March 12, 2021): Vietnam Detains Man Over Facebook Posts on Politics, Human Rights
Mongolia Presidential Election: June 9, 2021
Mongolia, a free though imperfect democracy, has scheduled its presidential election for June 9, 2021, following parliamentary elections in June 2020 and local elections in October 2020. More
David Yaffe-Bellany, Bloomberg (March 9, 2021): Mongolian President Accused of Smearing Political Rival
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
Al Jazeera (March 12, 2021): Malaysia cites COVID-19 misinformation with new ‘fake news’ law
P Prem Kumar, Nikkei Asia (March 10, 2021): Mahathir keeps Malaysia, rivals and family guessing on next election
The Star/Asia News Network (March 10, 2021): Malaysia on track to lower voting age to 18, launch automatic voter registration system
The Star/Asia News Network (March 6, 2021): Another ‘grand coalition’ of political parties likely after next Malaysian general election: Umno senior leader
Hong Kong Legislative Elections: September 5, 2021 (delay likely)
Hong Kong plans to hold elections to the Legislative Council on September 5, 2021, after a year’s delay. However, further delays are likely. These elections are taking place in the context of Beijing’s determination to gut Hong Kong’s democracy. More
James Griffiths, CNN (March 11, 2021): China’s parliament endorses plan to ‘improve’ Hong Kong elections, further curbing opposition
Jen Kirby, Vox (March 11, 2021): China rewrites Hong Kong’s election rules to guarantee Beijing “patriots” stay in power
AP (March 11, 2021): EXPLAINER: What’s behind Hong Kong election law changes
Kelly Ho, Hong Kong Free Press (March 8, 2021): Hong Kong’s Lam unable to rule out another election delay, says ‘urgent’ electoral overhaul is an ‘improvement’
Minxin Pei, Los Angeles Times (March 8, 2021): Op-Ed: China may be overplaying its hand in its crackdown on Hong Kong
Macau Legislative Elections: September 12, 2021
Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, having reverted from Portuguese control to Chinese control in 1999. The main industry is gaming, with a casino sector seven times the size of that of Las Vegas. The legislature is dominated by pro-Beijing politicians, who hold 29 out of the 33 seats, with pro-democracy politicians holding the remaining four.
Macau Daily Times (March 10, 2021): Candidates who don’t support Basic Law, SAR can be barred: CAEAL [Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Committee]
Anthony Lam, Macau Daily Times (March 9, 2021): Elections 2021: Legislative race on September 12
Cambodia Local Elections: June 5, 2022 and Parliamentary Elections: July 2023 (due)
Cambodia is due to hold local elections in 2022 and general elections in 2023. Although Cambodia has held elections in the past that had some element of competition, the 2018 election – neither free nor fair – signified the closing of Cambodia’s political space. They have been called “the death of democracy.” The main pro-democracy opposition, Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), was dissolved and banned from fielding candidates, and its leader, Sam Rainsy, was sent into exile, so its supporters boycotted the polls, resulting in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) taking 58 out of 62 seats in parliament, and allowing Prime Minister Hun Sen to consolidate even more power while extending his three decades in power.
Bradley Jardine, Foreign Policy Research Institute (March 8, 2021): Emerging Forms of Pax Sinica in Tajikistan and Cambodia
DPA (March 7, 2021): UN experts: Cambodian opposition leaders’ jail terms ‘appalling’
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
Al Jazeera (March 10, 2021): Nepal’s governing communist party ‘dismissed’ from poll register
AFP (March 10, 2021): Nepal ruling party splits after losing name
Kathmandu Post (March 10, 2021): Court verdict on Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and possible after-effects
AP (March 7, 2021): Nepal Parliament, reinstated by high court, begins session
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.
Cliff Venzon, Nikkei Asia (March 12, 2021): Philippines’ Duterte urged by allies to run for vice president
Gabriel Pabico Lalu, Inquirer Philippines (March 11, 2021): ‘Impunity will be the legacy of Duterte,’ says rights advocates
Editorial Board, Washington Post (March 11, 2021): Opinion: An online assault on a female journalist in the Philippines is a worldwide warning
AFP Factcheck (March 9, 2021): False allegations of fraud in Philippines’ 2016 vice presidential election surface online
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
Radio Free Asia (March 8, 2021): Jailed Lao Activist Silenced by Government, but Continues to Inspire
Michael Hart, World Politics Review (March 8, 2021): Can a New Generation of Leaders Tackle Laos’ Debt Woes?
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). Protests against the coup continue. More
"He said it's worth dying for. He is worried about people not joining the protest. If so, democracy will not return to the country," said the wife of slain Myanmar protester, Chit Min Thu. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/xZeJFGyPRb
— Matthew Tostevin (@TostevinM) March 11, 2021
Reuters (March 11, 2021): Myanmar junta says to remain in control for “certain time” then hold elections
Bo Kyi, Washington Post (March 10, 2021): Myanmar’s junta hunted and tortured me. Now it’s crushing a new generation.
Tun Myint, New York Times (March 9, 2021): The Country I Fled Needs Biden’s Help Now
Robert BociagaHelen Regan, CNN (March 9, 2021): Myanmar protesters getting permanent symbols of resistance — tattoos
Matthew S. Schwartz, NPR (March 7, 2021): Violence Continues In Myanmar As Police Enforce Curfew And Occupy Hospitals
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