Asia This Week: October 8, 2021

October 8, 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 Daoist Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Edwin.11 (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

Japan General Elections: October 31, 2021

Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, plans to hold general elections on October 31, a bit earlier than the November deadline. These come on the heels of Tokyo Assembly elections, in which Kishida’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.

These elections follow the LDP’s September 29 leadership contest. Former prime minister Yoshihide Suga did not seek re-election. Kishida defeated vaccine czar Kono Taro in a runoff, as well as the hawkish former internal affairs minister Takaichi Sanae and former gender equality minister Noda Seiko.

Mari Yamaguchi, AP (October 8, 2021): Kishida vows to lead with ‘trust and empathy’ to fix Japan

Sheila A. Smith, Council on Foreign Relations (October 5, 2021): The Road Ahead for Japan’s New Prime Minister

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

Tim Pringle and Peng Pai, Jacobin (October 8, 2021): Hong Kong’s Trade Unions Are Under Attack

Kelly Ho, Hong Kong Free Press (October 6, 2021): Hong Kong Policy Address: Gov’t examining plan to allow Hongkongers in China to vote in Dec legislative election. An opinion poll conducted for HKFP showed that only 17 per cent of Hongkongers approve of the proposal.

Tony Cheung, South China Morning Post (October 5, 2021): No new voters? No problem: Beijing ‘unlikely to blame’ Hong Kong’s pro-establishment camp for lack of interest in coming poll

Timor-Leste Local Elections: Fall 2021 (due) and Presidential Election: March 2022 (due)

Timor-Leste (also called East Timor) is due to hold local elections in October 2021 and a presidential election in March 2022. Since winning independence from Indonesia in a referendum 20 years ago, Timor-Leste has become a democracy rated Free by Freedom House, although some challenges remain.

Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations (October 4, 2021): Why Has East Timor Built the Strongest Democracy in Southeast Asia?

Sri Lanka Provincial Elections: 2021

Sri Lanka plans to hold provincial elections in 2021. In the 2019 presidential election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, won.  Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice.

Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times (October 6, 2021): India asks Sri Lanka to devolve powers to Tamil minority, hold provincial council elections

Meera Srinivasan, The Hindu (October 4, 2021): Hold provincial council polls without delay, India urges Sri Lanka

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.

Vivan Marwaha, BBC (October 4, 2021): Viewpoint: Why India’s millennials support PM Narendra Modi

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

Alan Robles, South China Morning Post (October 9, 2021): Philippine presidential election: who’s running, who’s favourite and what’s their China policy?

Frank Langfitt and Charles Maynes, NPR (October 8, 2021): The Nobel Peace Prize goes to journalists in the Philippines and Russia

Michael Beltran, The Diplomat (October 8, 2021): Philippines Presidential Race: Marcos and the Specter of Martial Law: With Bongbong entering the race, and the Dutertes floating around the edges, the Philippine presidential election is stirring up dark memories.

Reuters (October 6, 2021): Philippines rights groups decry presidential bid of late dictator’s son

Reuters (October 3, 2021): Philippines’ Duterte says daughter running for president in 2022 elections – media

Jim Gomez and Joeal Calupitan, AP (October 2, 2021): Philippine leader Duterte announces retirement from politics

AP (October 1, 2021): Manny Pacquiao, boxer and Duterte rival, files bid for presidency as Philippine race heats up

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

Colin Packham, Reuters (October 5, 2021): Social conservative and economic reformer elected to lead Australia’s most populous state

Indonesia Presidential and Legislative Elections: April 2024 (due)

Indonesia is due to hold presidential and legislative elections in April 2024. In Indonesia’s April 2019 elections – the biggest single day of voting in the history of the world – incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi), widely seen as a reformer, defeated challenger Prabowo Subianto for the presidency. Prabowo initially refused to accept the results, and rioting subsequently ensued. Prabowo ultimately did accept the results, but tensions remain, particularly regarding the role of religion in politicsMore

Kishore Mahbubani, Project Syndicate (October 6, 2021): The Genius of Jokowi

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

Malaysia will likely 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 in August (likely will be delayed), 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 as Ismail Sabri Yaakob, from UMNO, became prime minister in August 2021, following protests and general chaos. He replaced Muhyiddin Yassin, who was only in office for 17 months (the shortest-ever tenure of a Malaysian prime minister). More

Ran Anand, The Straits Times (October 5, 2021): Melaka state assembly dissolved, paving way for state elections

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

Paul Donowitz, The Hill (October 6, 2021): In the wake of Burma’s coup, new US legislation offers a roadmap for action

Asia/Pacific Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Japan Parliamentary Elections: October 31, 2021

Tonga General Elections: November 18, 2021

New Caledonia Independence Referendum: December 12, 2021

Taiwan Referendum: December 18, 2021

Hong Kong Legislative Council Elections: December 19, 2021

Timor-Leste Municipal Elections: 2021 (due)

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)

Taiwan Local Elections: November 2022 (due)

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

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