Asia This Week: April 30, 2021

April 30, 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.

Tasmania’s Parliament House in Hobart, the state capital. Tasmania holds snap elections on May 1. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Diego Delso (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ongoing 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

Manas Nag, East Asia Forum (May 1, 2021): Modi’s BJP finds the voter’s pulse in West Bengal elections

NDTV (April 30, 2021): Where To Watch Results Of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry Polls On May 2

Global Voices (April 29, 2021): As legislative elections draw to a close, will the Congress Party reclaim Assam state from the BJP? Results will be called on May 2

Niharika Sharma, Quartz (April 27, 2021): The world’s largest democracy won’t stop its various elections—even if lives are at stake

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

Australia, Tasmania Snap Elections: May 1, 2021

Several Australian states hold elections in 2021, including Tasmania, which is holding its state elections 10 months early. If the incumbent center-right Liberals win, it will be the first time they have won three elections in a row in Tasmania. After that, federal parliamentary elections are due by 2022, but snap elections could happen. Tensions with China are rising as Australia’s federal government has cancelled several Belt and Road deals. More


Joe Attanasio, 9 News Australia (May 1, 2021): Tasmanians head to polls to decide who will lead state for next four years

James Dunlevie and Alexandra Humphries, ABC Australia (May 1, 2021): Tas election 2021 live updates: Premier Peter Gutwein and Labor leader Rebecca White await results as counting begins

Adrian Beaumont, The Conversation (April 27, 2021): Tasmanian election preview: commissioned poll has Liberals likely short of majority


Eric Meijer, Nikkei Asia (May 1, 2021): Australia-China sparring heats up under new Canberra defense head

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 ahead of the general elections.

Michael MacArthur Bosack, Japan Times (May 1, 2021): Japan’s political state of play following the by-elections

The Mainichi (April 28, 2021): Editorial: Japan PM Suga appears unable to course correct despite election losses

Reuters (April 25, 2021): Japan PM says he’ll take ruling party’s by-election defeats with humility

Hong Kong Legislative Elections: December 2021 (planned)

Hong Kong plans to hold elections to the Legislative Council in December 2021, after more than a year’s delay. These elections are taking place in the context of Beijing’s determination to gut Hong Kong’s democracy. More

Hong Kong Free Press (May 1, 2021): Explainer: Hong Kong national security crackdown – month 10

Reuters (April 30, 2021): HK activist Joshua Wong pleads guilty over June 4 ‘illegal assembly’

Jeffie Lam, South China Morning Post (April 30, 2021): Planned Hong Kong elections rule for delaying specific Legislative Council contests dropped in government U-turn

Cheryl Teh, Business Insider (April 30, 2021): New poll shows 60% of Hong Kong youth aged 15 to 30 want to leave the city if they can

James Griffiths, CNN (April 29, 2021): Hong Kong passes new immigration law that could enable China-style exit bans

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. Meanwhile, a broad coalition of opposition figures have formed 1Sambayan (One Nation) in the hopes of defeating Duterte’s allies with a united front.

Dwight De Leon, Rappler (April 30, 2021): Pandemic polls: 6 new things to expect in the 2022 Philippine elections

Richard Javad Heydarian, Inquirer/Asia News Network (April 27, 2021): Marcos vs Duterte for Philippines elections 2022?: Inquirer columnist

Cleve V Arguelles, East Asia Forum (April 25, 2021): Can a new Philippine ‘popular front’ defeat Dutertismo?

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.

UCA News (April 28, 2021): Autistic son of jailed Cambodian opposition member attacked

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

Bhutan, Third Thromde Election: April 28, 2021

Bhutan held local elections in the capital, Thimphu, as well as the towns of Gelegphu and Phuentsholing, on April 28, 2021.

Sangay Rabten, EastMojo (April 28, 2021): Bhutan: Mayor elections underway in three cities

Maldives Local Elections: April 10, 2021

Maldives held 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. The country was under a brutal dictatorship for decades, but began a remarkable transition to democracy in 2008. The road to democracy has been somewhat rocky, but Maldivian democrats persevere. More

N Sathiya Moorthy, Observer Research Foundation (April 28, 2021): Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) loses Male mayoralty; leaders spar over adopting a parliamentary system

Aishath Hanaan Hussain Rasheed, Raajje (April 25, 2021): Candidates were elected for 975 seats in local councils, along with an additional 905 positions across Women’s Development Committees

Samoa Parliamentary Elections: April 9, 2021

Samoa held general elections on April 9, 2021, and the post-election situation has been rather eventful. A new opposition party, Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST, “Faith in the one true God”), posed a new challenge to the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), which has been in power since 1982. Ultimately, both FAST and HRPP got equal numbers of seats, with an independent MP breaking the tie and agreeing to support FAST. However, the plot continues to thicken as HRPP was given an additional female MP since the party did not meet its quota for women. It is unclear what the next steps will be. These elections took place in the context of controversy over proposed changes to the county’s constitutional framework and judiciary, involving questions of Samoan identity. More

Mandy Te, Stuff New Zealand (May 1, 2021): The ‘uncharted waters’ of Samoa’s 2021 election explained

John Milo, Foreign Brief (April 26, 2021): Samoan Supreme Court decision on deadlocked election expected

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. The military claims it will hold new elections will take place within two years. More

Thet Htar Mya Yee San, Washington Post (April 28, 2021): Opinion: I’m a Myanmar diplomat. Here’s why I refuse to recognize the coup.

Ye Kaung Myint Maung and Roseanne Gerin, Radio Free Asia (April 27, 2021): Myanmar’s Parallel Government Gets Moral Support But No Political Recognition

Tom Allard, Reuters (April 25, 2021): ASEAN changed Myanmar statement on release of political detainees – sources

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