Asia This Week: September 3, 2021

September 3, 2021

A weekly review of key news and analysis of elections in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, usually posted on Fridays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

A street in Hong Kong. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Mstyslav Chernov (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

Japan General Elections: By November 2021

Japan is due to hold general elections by November, 2021, but they could happen earlier. These come on the heels of Tokyo Assembly elections, in which Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) did not win a majority. Before the elections, the assembly was dominated by the Tomin First party, founded by Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, who used to belong to LDP.

In addition, the LDP will hold a leadership contest on September 29. The winner will become prime minister and will lead the party into the general elections. Suga has announced that he will not seek re-election.

Walter Sim, Straits Times (September 4, 2021): Japan’s LDP gains boost for general election after Suga’s decision to quit

Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal (September 3, 2021): Japan’s Next Prime Minister: Who Are the Candidates to Succeed Yoshihide Suga?

Alastair Gale and Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal (September 3, 2021): Japan’s Next Leader Set to Intensify Hawkish China Stance: Two former foreign ministers are likely front-runners in race to succeed Yoshihide Suga

Motoko Rich, New York Times (September 2, 2021): Japan’s Prime Minister Will Step Aside After Just a Year in Office

Hong Kong Legislative Elections: December 19, 2021

Hong Kong is holding 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

Suzanne Pepper, Hong Kong Free Press (September 3, 2021): Hong Kong’s civil society under fire: the candidates, the election, then the democracy movement itself

Cheng Yut Yiu, Radio Free Asia (September 1, 2021): Hong Kong Venue Cancels Pro-Democracy Singer’s Sellout Gigs Over ‘Public Order’ Concerns

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.

Jo Jun-tae, Korea Herald (September 5, 2021): Gyeonggi Gov. Lee confirms lead in ruling party primary race

Philippines Presidential Election: May 9, 2022

Philippines holds a presidential election on 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. Boxing star Manny Pacquiao, a former Duterte ally, has been discussed as a possible presidential candidate for 1Sambayan.

Duterte has made moves to bring the Philippines closer to China and away from the United States during his tenure in office, but has ultimately kept the defense pact with the U.S. in tact.

Andreo Calonzo and Cecilia Yap, Bloomberg (September 2, 2021): Duterte’s Daughter Gets Running Mate Offers for 2022 Elections

William Pesek, Forbes (September 2, 2021): Duterte’s Bid For Vice Presidency Turns Philippines Into A Family Business

Raymund Antonio, Manila Bulletin (September 1, 2021): 1Sambayan seeks probe into ‘web of corruption’ in Duterte administration

Reuters (August 30, 2021): Rival faction in Philippines’ ruling party tries to oust Duterte from chairman role

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.

Sun Narin, Voice of America (September 3, 2021): Paris Peace Accords’ Legacy in Cambodia Is Mixed and Politically Contentious as 30th Anniversary Nears

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (September 2, 2021): Report Illustrates Snap-Freezing of Cambodia’s Online Space: Since nearly losing an election in 2013, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has taken a range of steps to establish a firm grip on digital communications technologies.

Thailand, Bangkok Local Elections and Referendum: TBD

Thai officials have said they will schedule elections soon for various types of local elections (such as Bangkok city council) and potentially a constitutional referendum. These follow provincial elections that took place in December 2020 and municipal elections in March 2021.

These elections are taking place in the context of unprecedented protests against the monarchy, and calls for unprecedented types of reforms. These protests have been going on for months. More

Reuters (September 4, 2021): Thailand’s Prime Minister has survived another no-confidence vote

Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations (September 2, 2021): Thailand Roiled by Violent Unrest and COVID-19 Decimation

Nepal General Elections: Early 2023 (due)

Nepal had planned to hold snap elections in November 2021, following a protracted political crisis, but now the snap elections have been cancelled, and the current thinking is that the parliamentary elections will take place when they are due in 2023. 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. However, the courts reversed the decision.

Nepal sits in the strategically-important Himalayas, and is a focus of competition between India and China. Although former prime minister KP Sharma Oli brought Nepal closer to China, his replacement, Sher Bahadur Deuba, who assumed office in July 2021, is seen as favoring closer ties to India. More

Kamal Dev Bhattarai, The Diplomat (September 1, 2021): Is Nepal’s Secularism Under Threat? Growing calls for a Hindu state underline popular dissatisfaction with Nepal’s long stretch of political instability.

Asia/Pacific Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Japan, Mayoral Election in Yokohama: August 22, 2021

Australia, Local Elections in Northern Territory: August 28, 2021

Macau Legislative Elections: September 12, 2021

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

Timor-Leste Municipal Elections: October 2021 (due)

Tonga General Elections: By November 30, 2021

New Caledonia Independence Referendum: December 12, 2021

Taiwan Referendum: December 18, 2021

Hong Kong Legislative Council Elections: December 19, 2021

Sri Lanka Early Provincial Elections: Late 2021 (proposed)

Nepal Parliamentary Elections: January 2022 (due)

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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