Asia This Week: March 19, 2021

March 19, 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 Assam Secretariat building in Dispur, IIndia, Assam’s capital. Assam is one of India’s five states to hold elections in the next few months. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mozzwold (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

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. In addition, a number of local elections are going on. More

Sumit Ganguly, Foreign Policy (March 19, 2021): India’s “electoral autocracy” hits back

Soutik Biswas, BBC (March 16, 2021): ‘Electoral autocracy’: The downgrading of India’s democracy

Khaleej Times (March 19, 2021): These stars are contesting India state elections

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

The Economist (March 20, 2021): China is not just shackling Hong Kong, it is remaking it

Vivian Wang and Joy Dong, New York Times (March 20, 2021): Hong Kong, its elections upended, reconsiders Its dream of democracy

David Pierson and Hsiuwen Liu, Los Angeles Times (March 19, 2021): As democracy fades, Hong Kong’s political opposition become political prisoners

Kelly Ho, Hong Kong Free Press (March 17, 2021): Hong Kong gov’t puts district councillors’ new oath-taking requirement to legislature

Zen Soo, AP (March 17, 2021): US sanctions 24 China and Hong Kong officials ahead of talks

Coco Liu and Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg (March 15, 2021): China Presses Alibaba to Sell Media Assets, Including South China Morning Post

Japan General Elections: On or Before October 22, 2021

Japan is due to hold general elections by October 22, 2021, but they could happen earlier. In addition, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who replaced Shinzo Abe last year, faces a leadership contest in his conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

Shuhei Endo and Itsuo Tokubo, The Mainici (March 19, 2021): PM Suga sparks speculation Japan’s next general election to come by Sept.

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

Michael Hart, Geopolitical Monitor (March 17, 2021): Election Talk Heats Up in Malaysia

Nadirah H. Rodzi, The Straits Times (March 17, 2021): Malaysia’s Anwar says has met with several Umno leaders to discuss cooperation in next elections

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (March 15, 2021): Malaysia Under Fire for COVID-19 ‘Fake News’ Ordinance

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.

Anjo Alimario, CNN Philippines (March 18, 2021): ‘United opposition’ to challenge Duterte admin bets in 2022 elections

Mara Cepeda, Rappler (March 18, 2021): New anti-Duterte coalition: ‘Unless we are united, we cannot win in 2022’

William Pesek, Nikkei Asia (March 18, 2021): Duterte brings Kremlin-style power shuffle to Manila Bay

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

PTI (March 16, 2021): Nepal president calls all-party meeting amid political crisis

PTI (Marach 14, 2021): Nepal’s CPN (Maoist Centre) asks its ministers in Oli-led govt to resign en-masse

Past 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

Evelyn Manfield, ABC (March 17, 2021): WA election leaves Daylight Saving, Legalise Cannabis parties on verge of joining Parliament

Martin Drum, The Conversation (March 14, 2021): Labor’s thumping win in Western Australia carries risks for both sides

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

Thant Myint-U, London Review of Books (March 18, 2021): What next for Burma?

Frida Ghitis, Washington Post (March 17, 2021): Opinion: Myanmar’s people are fighting back — even as the military guns them down

Helen Regan and Jessie Yeung, CNN (March 16, 2021): Myanmar’s military is killing peaceful protesters. Here’s what you need to know

Edmund DeMarche, Fox News (March 16, 2021): Burma protests: At least 39 killed in country’s deadliest day since coup

Jonathan Head, BBC (March 15, 2021): Myanmar coup: What protesters can learn from the ‘1988 generation’

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