Asia This Week: September 10, 2021

September 10, 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.

The Ayuntamiento de Manila, formerly the seat of Manila’s city council and currently home to the Philippines’ Bureau of the Treasury. Philippines holds elections next spring. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Ramiltibayan (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

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

Sara Cheng, Reuters (September 10, 2021): Politicians swear loyalty to Hong Kong, but face govt patriotic test

BBC (September 10, 2021): Hong Kong Tiananmen vigil organisers charged under national security law

Iain Marlow and Kari Soo Lindberg, Bloomberg (September 7, 2021): China Moves to Complete Its Purge of Hong Kong’s Election System: An oath-taking ceremony this week represents the culmination of a campaign by Beijing to roll back past defeats at polls.

Angeli Datt and Isabel Linzer, The Diplomat (September 7, 2021): Ahead of Hong Kong Elections, Companies Must Act to Protect Digital Rights: The private sector may be forced to choose between enabling and resisting state repression.

Candice Chau, Hong Kong Free Press (September 6, 2021): Hong Kong Democratic Party may breach security law if it tells members not to run in election, warns pro-Beijing figure

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 two biggest parties, PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition Congress Party.

PTI (September 10, 2021): How Modi used Twitter to win 2019 elections: Nationalism, culture and political alliances were his buzzwords

Soutik Biswas and Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa, BBC (September 7, 2021): What election losers tell us about Indian democracy

Kavita Chowdhury, The Diplomat (September 6, 2021): Is India’s Congress Party in Self-Destruct Mode? India’s Grand Old Party is in need of bold and cohesive leadership.

Priyanka Singh, ISDA (September 6, 2021): Elections in the so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir

AFP (September 5, 2021): India charges late Kashmir leader’s family under anti-terror law

Aijaz Hussain, AP (September 3, 2021): Kashmir lockdown continues after anti-India leader’s death

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.

CNN Philippines (September 9, 2021): Sara Duterte says she won’t run for president after her father officially accepts VP nomination

Kiko Rosario and David Rising, AP (September 8, 2021): Duterte’s party picks him as VP candidate in Philippines

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

Australia’s federal parliamentary elections are due by 2022, but snap elections could happen. In Australia’s last federal elections in May 2019, the conservative Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, won a surprise victory, even though polls had predicted that Labor would oust them. The Liberals are currently in their third term in government. Morrison has been criticized for his “COVID zero” strategy that has been used to justify increasingly authoritarian policies.

Meanwhile, several states hold various types of elections in 2021.

Edward Cliff and Brian Fernandes, New York Times (September 8, 2021): Covid Zero Is No Longer Working for Australia

Paul Karp, The Guardian (September 7, 2021): Morrison government prepares legislation with an eye to a 2022 federal election

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.

Radio Free Asia (September 9, 2021): Cambodian Court Sentences Seven Opposition Activists to Prison in Absentia For ‘Incitement’

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

Michael Hutt, East Asia Forum (September 11, 2021): Fifth time lucky? Deuba’s last chance for a legacy in Nepal

Pratik Ghimire, Annapurna Express (September 9, 2021): What fuels political instability in Nepal?

Tika R Pradhan, Kathmandu Post (September 5, 2021): Nepal government’s attempts to curb protests, debates draw public ire

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

Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, AP (September 10, 2021): Thai Parliament approves election system charter change

Mongkol Bangprapa, Bangkok Post (September 7, 2021): Jurin says Democrats ready for gubernatorial election

Masayuki Yuda, Nikkei Asia (September 4, 2021): Thai PM survives 3rd no-confidence vote over COVID response

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

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

Tommy Walker, Voice of America (September 8, 2021): Myanmar’s Shadow Government Announces ‘Defensive War’

Emily Fishbein and Athens Zaw Zaw, Rolling Stone (September 6, 2021): ‘Rock and Roll Is at Its Most Beautiful Stage When It’s Free’: In Myanmar, a military coup ripped away rock musicians’ glimpse of creative freedom. Faced with a return to repression and censorship, they are finding ways to fight back

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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