Asia This Week: June 4, 2021

June 4, 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.

A vigil for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Hong Kong in 2020, right before the brutal crackdown began in Hong Kong itself. The government banned a memorial this year. But as the writer and critic Lu Xun (1881-1936) said, “Lies written in ink can never disguise facts written in blood.” Photo credit: Wikimedia/Strand News (free to use)

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

Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat (June 1, 2021): Bolor Lkhaajav on Mongolia’s Messy Presidential Election

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.

Elliot Waldman, World Politics Review (June 3, 2021): An Olympic-Size Headache for Japan’s Suga

Leika Kihara, Reuters (June 2, 2021): Japan PM Suga seen calling snap election after Tokyo Games – Asahi

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

AFP (June 5, 2021): Israeli hosting firm Wix removes Hong Kong democracy website after police order

John Ruwitch and Emily Feng, Hong Kong Free Press (June 4, 2021): Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square Vigil Is Banned As Authorities Arrest Organizers

Zen Soo, AP (June 4, 2021): Hundreds gather near Hong Kong park despite vigil ban

Reuters (June 4, 2021): What people are saying about Tiananmen anniversary and vigil ban in Hong Kong

Paul Mozur, New York Times (June 3, 2021): In Hong Kong, Short-Lived Censorship Hints at a Deeper Standoff

Reuters (June 3, 2021): The impact of the national security law on Hong Kong

Candice Chau, Hong Kong Free Press (June 2, 2021): Pro-democracy party says it won’t take part in Hong Kong elections following overhaul ordered by Beijing

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

Five Indian states are due to hold elections in early 2022. These elections will be a key test for the national parties – and PM Narendra Modi –

Divya Subramanian, The Nation (June 2, 2021): Is Mahua Moitra India’s AOC? The MP from West Bengal says she knows how to defeat Modi.

PTI (June 1, 2021): India’s election commission is confident of holding five state polls in 2022 on time, even as the pandemic continues to spread

Shruti Kapila, The Print (May 31, 2021): Every election now is a plebiscite on Modi. India’s party system is crumbling

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.

Bloomberg (June 3, 2021): Manny Pacquiao emerges as obstacle to Philippine President Duterte’s succession plans

Rob Jenkins, Just Security (June 3, 2021): A Pending Decision Pits Peace vs. Democracy in the Philippines: Is Duterte Right This Time in Seeking a Three-Year Delay for Bangsamoro Elections?

Andreo Calonzo, Bloomberg (May 31, 2021): Duterte Gets Party’s Push to Stay in Power After Term Ends

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.

Mu Sochua, The Diplomat (June 2, 2021): How the US Can Help Cambodians Restore Their Country’s Democracy

Radio Free Asia (June 2, 2021): Cambodia Opposition Hopeful For Election Bid Following Visit by US Diplomat

Shaun Turton, Nikkei Asia (June 1, 2021): US flags ‘serious concerns’ over Cambodia’s China-backed navy base

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

Chin Huat Wong, East Asia Forum (June 3, 2021): The splintering of Malaysia’s political spectrum

P Prem Kumar, Nikkei Asia (May 31, 2021): Malaysia locks down as vicious COVID wave fogs election timing

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 took 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

Radio New Zealand (June 1, 2021): Samoa election crisis: Win for Fast party as court rejects appeal over extra seat

Joshua Mcdonald, The Diplomat (June 1, 2021): Pacific States Watch Samoa’s Political Turmoil Carefully, Quietly

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

Radio Free Asia (June 4, 2021): Myanmar’s Shadow Civilian Government Pledges to Grant Rohingya Citizenship on Return to Power

The Irrawaddy (June 2, 2021): To Disband NLD, Myanmar Junta to Probe for ‘Violations’ of Parties’ Registration Pledges

Ralph Jennings, Voice of America (June 2, 2021): ASEAN Ignores Pressure to Censure Myanmar on Human Rights, Analysts Say

Tom O’Connor, Newsweek (June 1, 2021): China Faces World’s Longest Civil War in Neighboring Myanmar, A Crisis It Can’t Avoid

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)

Cambodia Local Elections: June 5, 2022

Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due)

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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