Asia This Week: June 18, 2021

June 18, 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 vehicle belonging to Apple Daily, the last big pro-democracy Chinese-language newspaper that remains in Hong Kong. Following a raid this month, it is in danger of shutting down. Photo credit: Wikimedia/子房 (public domain)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

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.

Daniel Rice, Foreign Brief (June 19, 2021): Macau to close representative office in Taiwan

Nelson Moura, Macau Business (June 15, 2021): 22 electoral lists submitted for direct 2021 Legislative Assembly elections

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.

Eric Johnston, Japan Times (June 17, 2021): Caught in the middle? Komeito and the China-Japan relationship

Donna Weeks, The Conversation (June 14, 2021): Under pressure on the Olympics, Japan’s prime minister is saying little and hoping for a political lifesaver

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

PTI (June 18, 2021): Nepal House dissolution case: President Bhandari says Supreme Court cannot overturn her decision: President Bhandari, at the recommendation of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, dissolved the lower house for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

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

The Guardian (June 19, 2021): Two years on since Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests – in pictures

Benedict Rogers, The Diplomat (June 18, 2021): Apple Daily Raid Is the Latest Blow to Hong Kong’s Freedom: The world’s democracies must take action after the latest assault on press freedom.

Radio Free Asia (June 17, 2021): Interview: ‘We Have to Keep Going, If We Want Better For Hong Kong’

Selina Cheng, Hong Kong Free Press (June 17, 2021): Some 170 pro-democracy district councillors face disqualification under new Hong Kong law – reports

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.

IANS (June 20, 2021): India gears up for robot campaigners in 2022 Assembly elections

The Economist (June 19, 2021): India’s prime minister is down but not out

Shan Li and Vibhuti Agarwal, Wall Street Journal (June 14, 2021): Covid-19 Punctures Narendra Modi’s Aura as Some Supporters Sour on India’s Strongman

South Korea Presidential Election: March 9, 2022

South Korea holds its presidential election on March 9, 2021. Recently, the conservative opposition won special mayoral elections in Seoul and Busan by a landslide, just a year after President Moon Jae-in’s center-left Democratic Party swept the legislature. Moreover, Moon’s approval rating is tanking.

Jung Da-min, Korea Times (June 15, 2021): Main opposition enjoys high support rate after electing young leader

Mitch Shin, The Diplomat (June 15, 2021): Moon’s Last Chance on North Korea

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 (as Philippines presidents are not able to seek re-election), 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.

Reuters (June 16, 2021): ‘Good idea’ – Philippines Duterte mulls vice president bid

Alvin Camba, Carnegie Endowment (June 15, 2021): How Duterte Strong-Armed Chinese Dam-Builders But Weakened Philippine Institutions

Papua New Guinea General Elections: June/July 2022 (due)

Papua New Guinea is due to hold general elections in June or July 2022.

Anthony Regan, Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter (June 18, 2021): Bougainville independence:  Pressure for PNG agreement builds

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

Mongolia Presidential Election: June 9, 2021

Mongolia, a free though imperfect democracy, held its presidential election on June 9, 2021, following parliamentary elections in June 2020 and local elections in October 2020. Former PM Ukhnaa Khurelsukh won in a landslide, further consolidating the power of the Mongolian People’s Party (which was the ruling party during the communist era). MPP also has a majority in the legislature.

It was a nasty campaign in a polarized environment. Incumbent Khaltmaagiin Battulga from the center-right Democratic Party was not able to seek another term following a controversial rule change pushed by MPP. Now that MPP has both the presidency and the legislature, there are concerns about democratic backsliding. More

The Economist (June 19, 2021): Mongolia’s ruling party secures a thumping victory: It snatches the presidency from a bickering opposition

Samoa General 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.

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 and Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa was sworn in as prime minister – the first woman to hold the office. However, HRPP has not conceded, and Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi (sometimes called the Trump of Samoa) claims he is still the prime minister.

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 15, 2021): Samoa’s FAST wins first disputed seat of April election

Tibet Government-in-Exile Presidential Election: January 3 and April 11, 2021

Tibetans in exile around the world cast their ballots for Sikyong, the president of the Central Tibetan Administration (the formal name of the government-in-exile), which is headquartered in Dharamshala, India. The first round, with eight candidates, was in January, alongside legislative elections. In the second round, former speaker of the Tibetan government-in-exile Penpa Tsering defeated Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, the Dalai Lama’s representative to North America.

Tibet itself is currently ruled by China and is among the least free countries in the world. However, Tibetans have been developing a democratic system in exile.

Ashwini Bhatia, AP (June 17, 2021): AP Interview: Tibet exile leader hopes to resume China talks

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

Nandita Haksar, (June 19, 2021): Aung San Suu Kyi turns 76: How did ‘Burma’s Gandhi’ fall from grace in the eyes of the world?

Radio Free Asia (June 18, 2021): Bomb Explodes at Headquarters of Pro-Military Party in Myanmar

BBC (June 14, 2021): Aung San Suu Kyi: Trial of ousted Myanmar leader begins

Vanuatu General Elections: March 19-20, 2020

Vanuatu held general elections in March 2020.

Catherine Graue and Evan Wasuka, ABC News Australia (June 18, 2021): Vanuatu political crisis sees Prime Minister Bob Loughman lose his parliamentary seat

Asia/Pacific Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

New Caledonia Independence Referendum: December 12, 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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