Asia This Week: March 12, 2021

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)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

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

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.

By-Elections

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

Presidential Election

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

Past Asia/Pacific 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

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

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

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

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