Asia This Week: May 28, 2021

May 28, 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 city of Khovd, Mongolia. Mongolia holds a presidential election on June 9. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Nahcamuk (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

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. The country is stable, and economic growth continues, largely driven by mining. However, concerns have recently been raised about freedom and democracy. More

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.

Sheila A. Smith, Council on Foreign Relations (May 27, 2021): Japan’s Difficult Summer

The Japan Times (May 24, 2021): LDP heavyweights unite to keep key Suga backer in check

Nepal Snap Parliamentary Elections: November 12 and 19, 2021

Nepal will hold snap elections in November 2021, following a protracted political crisis. For background: in December 2020, Nepal’s prime minister decided to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. However, on February 23, the Supreme Court overturned the decision, cancelling the snap elections. The government subsequently lost a confidence vote, sparking snap polls. More

Arun Budhathoki, The Diplomat (May 26, 2021): Nepal’s President Announces Fresh Elections Amid Continuing Political Upheaval

Roshan Sedhai and Zaheena Rasheed, Al Jazeera (May 26, 2021): Nepal plunges into crisis – again. Here’s what you need to know

Hong Kong Legislative Elections: December 19, 2021

Hong Kong plans to hold elections to the Legislative Council on December 19, 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

Reuters (May 29, 2021): Organizers lose appeal to hold Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong

Primrose Riordan, Nicolle Liu, and Robert Wright, Financial Times (May 29, 2021): The Hong Kong dilemma: ‘Either you shut up or you leave’

Reuters (May 27, 2021): Hong Kong passes sweeping pro-China election rules, reduces public’s voting power

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.

Michael Beltran, Channel News Asia (May 29, 2021): Commentary: Is Duterte as tough a guy as he wants us to believe?

The Economist (May 29, 2021): The Philippines is repairing its relationship with America

Abigail Ng, CBNC (May 28, 2021): The Philippines has dramatically boosted South China Sea patrols, data shows

Ralph Jennings, Voice of America (May 28, 2021): Relations Between China, Philippines Seen Smoothing After Upbeat Talks

Reuters (May 27, 2021): Philippines’ Duterte to let God decide his political future

Mara Cepada, Rappler (May 25, 2021): 1Sambayan to release nominees for 2022 polls on Independence Day

Bangsamoro Regional Parliament: May 22, 2022

Michael Hart, World Politics Review (May 28, 2021): The Southern Philippines’ Post-Conflict Transition Is on Track, but Behind Schedule

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.

Sam Rainsy, The Diplomat (May 27, 2021): Is Cambodia’s Exclusive Dependence on China Inevitable?

Australia Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Australia’s federal parliamentary elections are due by 2022, but snap elections could happen. Meanwhile, several states hold elections in 2021.

Tensions with China are rising as Australia’s federal government has cancelled several Belt and Road deals. More

ABC News Australia (May 24, 2021 – video): Australian Labor Party ‘soul-searching’ after by-election loss

Malaysia Possible Snap Parliamentary Elections and Sarawak State Elections: To be called shortly after the COVID-19 state of emergency ends

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has indicated that he will 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. Specifically, Sarawak is due to hold state elections this summer, or very shortly after the federal government lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency.

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

Jerry Choong, Malay Mail (May 28, 2021): Khairy says Sarawak Covid-19 vaccination efforts to pre-empt infection risks from impending state election

Amy Chew, South China Morning Post (May 27, 2021): Umno, stalled juggernaut of Malaysian politics, faces leadership dilemma

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

Samoa (Election re-run that had been set for May 21 was cancelled)

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.

As a result of the deadlock, the prime minister has called new elections for May 21, but a court decided to block the new elections, reinstate the results, and overturn the decision to give HRPP an additional MP. As a result, FAST was declared the winner of the elections.

These elections are taking place in the context of controversy over proposed changes to the county’s constitutional framework and judiciary, involving questions of Samoan identity, as well as potential geopolitical shifts away from China. More

Julia Hollingsworth, CNN (May 29, 2021): The incredible rise of Samoa’s first female Prime Minister-elect, and the man still standing in her way

Natasha Frost, New York Times (May 24, 2021): She Was Supposed to Become Prime Minister but Was Locked Out of Parliament

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

The Irrawaddy (May 27, 2021): Myanmar Military-Backed Party Official Assassinated

Radio Free Asia (May 27, 2021): Pro-Democracy Brother of Myanmar Junta’s Deputy Home Affairs Minister Dies in Military Custody

Hannah Beech, New York Times (May 25, 2021): Where Poets Are Being Killed and Jailed After a Military Coup

BBC News (May 24, 2021): Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court for first time since military coup

Asia/Pacific Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Mongolia Presidential Election: June 9, 2021

Macau Legislative Elections: September 12, 2021

Japan Parliamentary Elections: By October 2021 (snap elections possible)

Timor-Leste Municipal Elections: October 2021 (due)

Nepal Snap Parliamentary Elections: November 12 and 19, 2021

Tonga General Elections: By November 30, 2021

Hong Kong Legislative Council Elections: December 19, 2021

Sri Lanka Early Provincial Elections: Late 2021 (proposed)

India, State Elections in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand: February/March 2022 (due)

South Korea Presidential Election: March 9, 2022

TImor-Leste Presidential Election: March 2022 (due)

Philippines Presidential and Legislative Elections: May 9, 2022

Australia Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due)

Cambodia Local Elections: June 5, 2022

Nauru Parliamentary Elections: August 2022 (due)

India, State Elections in Himachal Pradesh: October 2022 (due)

Fiji Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

India, State Elections in Gujarat: December 2022 (due)

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