Asia

June 10, 2022

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 New Delhi, India. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Igor Ovsyannykov (CC0 1.0)

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

India Presidential Election (by Parliament): July 18, 2022

India’s parliament will vote for a president on July 18, 2022, but in India’s parliamentary system, this largely a ceremonial role.

In the last parliamentary elections, in 2019, Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a “thumping victory, securing a second term in office in an increasingly polarized political climate. The main opposition social democratic Congress Party – India’s oldest party – has done well some subsequent state elections. The next general elections are due in 2024, and a number of states hold elections between now and then. State elections matter because much of policymaking happens at the state level.

While India was nonaligned during the Cold War, it has recently ramped up its competition with China and moved closer to other democratic powers, including forming the Quad security dialogue with the United States, Australia, and Japan.

Bibhudatta Pradhan, Bloomberg (June 9, 2022): India’s Lawmakers to Vote in Presidential Elections on July 18

Aishwarya Paliwal, India Today (June 4, 2022): Poll body begins work for first election in Jammu and Kashmir after electoral map redrawn: The Election Commission has begun work for the J&K elections after the delimitation commission submitted its report. The elections will likely be held in November or after March next year

Papua New Guinea Parliamentary and Local Elections: Beginning July 16, 2022 (delayed following death of deputy prime minister)

Papua New Guinea holds parliamentary and local elections this summer. The start date was delayed due to the death of the deputy prime minister.

Papua New Guinea’s politics are chaotic, and no single party has ever commanded a majority in parliament. Coalitions shift frequently. Current prime minister James Marape came into power in May 2018 when former prime minister Peter O’Neill lost a no-confidence vote after being in power for eight years.

Papua New Guinea’s parliament currently has no women – it is one of only three all-male parliaments in the world. However, efforts are being made to elect women this year.

Caitlyn McKenzie and Ben Connable, Lowy Institute (June 7, 2022): PNG’s elections: dangers
that lie on social media

Japan House of Councillors Elections: July 25, 2022 (half of upper house at stake)

Japan holds elections for half of the House of Councillors, the upper house of the bicameral parliament, on July 25, 2022. These follow general elections that took placeon October 31, a bit earlier than the November deadline. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has dominated Japanese politics since 1955, won another term in office, despite somewhat decreased approval ratings in recent months. Former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, who won the LDP’s pre-election leadership contest after former prime minister Yoshihide Suga decided not to run for re-election, was thus elected prime minister.

The upper house elections are important because a win for LDP would bring more political stability and reduce the chances of snap general elections.

AFP (June 9, 2022): Japan elected to UN Security council for two years

Michael MacArthur Bosack, Japan Times (June 7, 2022): Five things to know about the LDP going into election: Kishida Cabinet’s poll numbers are the best for a prime minister in nearly a decade

Kana Inagaki in Tokyo and Christian Davies, Financial Times (June 7, 2022): ‘Now or never’: Japan and South Korea seek a relationship reset

Reuters (June 5, 2022): Japan’s Kishida Considers Joining NATO Summit -Sources

Taiwan Local Elections: November 26, 2022

Taiwan, a robust democracy, has scheduled “nine-in-one” local elections for November 26, 2022. Voters will elect nine categories of local officials.

The country held presidential and legislative elections in January 2020. President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the legislative elections and Tsai herself was re-elected president. The DPP, established in 1986 during Taiwan’s transition to democracy, supports Taiwan’s independence. The main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), founded by Sun Yat-Sen, favors closer ties to the mainland, which it ruled from 1925 to 1948.

The next presidential and legislative elections are due in 2024. Relations with China are a dominant theme in Taiwan’s political debate.

Reuters (June 6, 2022): Don’t call us pro-China, Taiwan opposition chief says in U.S.

Nepal General Elections: Possibly in 2022

Several sets of elections could take place in Nepal within the next year. Local elections took place on May 13, 2022.

Nepal’s politics remain turbulent following the 1996-2006 civil war waged by Maoists. The main political factions are the various Maoist parties, which tend to lean toward China geopolitically, and the social democratic Nepali Congress, which tends to lean toward India. Congress currently heads the national government.

Nepal had planned to hold snap elections for the lower house 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.

In the local elections, the ruling Congress alliance won the most seats. However, rapper (and structural engineer) Balendra “Balen” Shah won the mayoral race in Kathmandu, the first-ever independent candidate to do so.

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

Biswas Baral, The Diplomat (June 8, 2022): What’s the Status of the Much-Discussed China-Nepal Railway?

India Blooms News Service (June 8, 2022): Nepal: Tibetan refugees elect local leaders in Kathmandu

Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu Post (June 7, 2022): Will Parliament get more independent lawmakers, after local election results?

Anil Giri, Kathmandu Post (June 5, 2022): Buoyed by success of local polls, Deuba for holding elections by end of November

Burma Parliamentary Elections: By August 2023 (proposed – tentative, post-coup)

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 by 2023.

Burma is of geopolitical importance because of its location on the Indian Ocean. China has sought to cultivate ties in order to get more access to the Indian Ocean, and simultaneously, western governments have at times pursued warmer relations with the regime.

Banyar Aung, The Irrawaddy (June 7, 2022): Junta’s Election Next Year Unlikely to End Myanmar’s Crisis

Han Htoo Khant Paing and Richard Roewer, The Diplomat (June 7, 2022): Fighting the Fear: The Execution of Members of Myanmar’s Opposition Must be Stopped

Maldives Presidential Election: September 2023 (due)

Maldives is due to hold a presidential election in September 2023. The idyllic archipelago was under a brutal dictatorship for decades, but began a remarkable transition to democracy in 2008. The road to democracy has been somewhat rocky, but Maldivian democrats persevere.

The country, in the strategically-important Indian Ocean, has been part of geopolitical competition between India and the democratic world on the one hand and China on the other hand.

Nike Ching, Voice of America (June 9, 2022): US Boosts Asia Diplomacy to Address Growing Competition With China

Avas (June 9, 2022): Coalition partner JP to contest 2023 elections

Edition Maldives (June 8, 2022): President Solih for the first time reveals plans to run for second term

Indonesia Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 14, 2024 and Provincial Elections: November 27, 2024

Indonesia has scheduled presidential and legislative elections for February 14, 2024, followed by provincial elections on November 27, 2024, ending speculation that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) would seek to delay the election and extend his term.

In Indonesia’s April 2019 elections – the biggest single day of voting in the history of the world – Joko Widodo (Jokowi), widely seen as a reformer, was re-elected, defeating challenger Prabowo Subianto. 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

Deasy Simandjuntak, East Asia Forum (June 10, 2022): Looking ahead to Indonesia’s 2024 elections

Sri Lanka Presidential Election: September 2024 and Parliamentary Elections: August 2025 (snap elections possible)

Sri Lanka is due to hold elections in 2024 and 2025, but snap elections could happen due to the current political and economic crisis. The current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, won the 2019 election, which took place in a tense political climate following the 2019 Easter bombings.

Former president Maithripala Sirisena, who had surprisingly defeated Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential elections, spearheaded a reform program to reverse many of the autocratic powers Mahinda Rajapaksa had built up. However, since Gotabaya took office, he has systematically dismantled those reforms. As a result, Sri Lanka’s democracy sits on the precipice.

The current political crisis began with a series of street protests over daily power cuts and food shortages. The opposition has called for fresh elections. In an attempt to stabilize the country, Rajapaksa installed his former rival Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and called for a unity government. Wickremesinghe has served as prime minister several times before, and is broadly liberal and pro-democracy. He has called for greater ties with India, in contrast to Rajapaksa’s moves toward China.

Sri Lanka’s government, dominated by the Sinhalese ethnic group, fought a decades-long civil war with the rebel Tamil Tigers. The war ended in 2009, but tensions reignited in 2019 following the 2019 Easter bombings. Sri Lanka is located strategically in the Indian Ocean. Chinese involvement has raised concerns – Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port has become a textbook example of Chinese debt-trap diplomacy

Alasdair Pal and Devjyot Ghoshal, Reuters (June 8, 2022): Brothers at odds, but ruling family still holds key to Sri Lanka’s future

Anusha Ondaatjie and Sudhi Ranjan Sen, Bloomberg (June 6, 2022): Sri Lanka President Vows to Finish Term, Won’t Run for Re-Election

Malaysia Early General Elections: Expected

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. In Malaysia’s federal system, state governments have significant powers to make laws for their own states.

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.

Malaysia sits in a key geopolitical location, including the crucial chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca, through which approximately 12 million barrels of oil transit each day, in addition to many other thigns.

Guanie Lim and Keng Khoon Ng, Carnegie Endowment (June 8, 2022): How Malaysian Politics Shaped Chinese Real Estate Deals and Economic Development

Norshahril Saat, Channel News Asia (June 6, 2022): Commentary: By not rushing Malaysia election, Ismail Sabri charts his own course

Ömer Faruk Yildiz, East Asia Forum (June 4, 2022): Why Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional is pushing for a snap election

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

Cambodia Local Elections: June 5, 2022 and Parliamentary Elections: July 2023 (due)

Cambodia held local elections on June 5, 2022 and is due to hold general elections in 2023. Although Cambodia has held elections in the past that have had some element of competition, the 2018 elections – 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.

However, in early 2022, the opposition began gaining ground, reorganizing itself into the Candlelight Party. In the June local elections, the party made some gains, winning around 22 percent of the vote. Opposition activists hope that will translate into a stronger result in the 2023 elections.

David Hutt, The Diplomat (June 9, 2022): Putting a Positive Spin on Cambodia’s Local Election: For the first time, an opposition party not led by a magnetic political personality has made inroads

Radio Free Asia (June 9, 2022): Cambodian local elections legitimized resurgent opposition party, exiled founder says

Prak Chan Thul, Reuters (June 6, 2022): Cambodia’s ruling party wins local commune elections but new opposition gains

Sopheng Cheang, AP (June 4, 2022): Cambodians vote in local election amid intimidation, threats

South Korea Local Elections: June 1, 2022, following Presidential Election: March 9, 2022

South Korea held local elections on June 1. These follow the March presidential election, which conservative Yook Seol-yeol former prosecutor general won. He narrowly defeated Lee Jae-myung from the Democratic Party, the center-left party of incumbent Moon Jae-in. The campaign was nasty and neither major candidate is particularly popular with voters or with his respective party – both won their primaries narrowly. The conservatives also won the local elections.

South Korea is a key United States ally, and the South Korean public broadly supports the alliance. However, Moon has pursued diplomatic and economic engagement with North Korea and moved closer to China. This could change under Yoon.

Yosuke Onchi, Nikkei Asia (June 9, 2022): South Korea’s Yoon kick-starts diplomacy for reboot with Japan: Foreign Minister Park plans visit in June, after ruling party electoral victory

Australia Parliamentary Elections: May 21, 2022

Australia held federal parliamentary elections on May 21, 2022. Following the elections, Labor, under the leadership of Anthony Albanese, came back into power after nine years in opposition, defeating Scott Morrison’s center-right Liberal Party

Much of the debate focused on China’s growing presence in the Pacific, including a potential base in the Solomon Islands, which are very close to Australia. More

Adrian Beaumont, The Conversation (June 8, 2022): How did the polls perform in the 2022 election? Better, but not great; also a Senate update

Anthony Fensom, The Diplomat (June 7, 2022): Australia’s New Government Faces an Economic Trial-by-Fire

Luke Hunt, Voice of America (June 5, 2022): Albanese to Maintain Australia’s Strong Stance on China

Nic Fildes, Financial Times (June 5, 2022): Australia accuses China of intercepting surveillance plane: Canberra says action occurred over South China Sea days after Anthony Albanese elected PM

Philippines General Elections (Presidential, Legislative, and Local): May 9, 2022

Philippines held general elections on May 9, 2022. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the notorious late former dictator, won in a landslide, raising concerns about the future of democracy in the country. Although liberal forces, led by Vice President Leni Robredo, put in a valiant effort, Marcos prevailed, returning his family to power.

This follows the 2016 victory of populist firebrand Rodrigo Duterte, who subsequently governed with an iron fist. Though Philippines presidents cannot run for a second term, critics feared that he would seek to consolidate illiberalism. His daughter, Sara Duterte, won the 2022 vice presidential election.

The Marcos family ruled the country for 21 years (including 14 years under martial law), and fell in the 1986 People Power Revolution. Nonetheless, since then, political dynasties have remained a potent force in Philippines politics.

While the Philippines lacks significant hard power, it is located in a geopolitically crucial area. The country has been a key U.S. ally since World War II, but Duterte flirted with moves to bring the Philippines closer to China and away from the United States during his tenure in office. However, the country has ultimately kept the defense pact with the U.S. in tact.

Richard Heydarian, Nikkei Asia (June 7, 2022): Philippines’ Marcos must not squander his family’s second chance: Fully embracing good governance would be an important first step

Timor-Leste Presidential Runoff: April 19, 2022

Timor-Leste (also called East Timor) held a presidential election on March 19. Current president Francisco Guterres, called Lú-Olo, first elected in 2017, trailed former president José Ramos-Horta. Ramos-Horta won the April 19 runoff.

Since winning independence from Indonesia in a referendum 20 years ago, Timor-Leste has become a democracy rated Free by Freedom House, although many challenges remain.

Andrea Fahey, Lowy Institute (June 8, 2022): Timor-Leste, China and Australia,
and the influence contest

Sebastian Strangio, The Diplomat (June 6, 2022): Timor-Leste Signs Four Cooperation Agreements With China: But like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Dili will seek to maintain a judicious balance between dueling hegemons

AFP, SBS (June 4, 2022): China’s foreign minister signs agreements in Timor-Leste on final Pacific stop

Asia/Pacific Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Papua New Guinea Parliamentary and Local Elections: Beginning July 16, 2022 (delayed following death of deputy prime minister)

Cambodia Local Elections: June 5, 2022

India Presidential Election (by parliament): July 18, 2022

Japan House of Councillors Elections: July 25, 2022 (half of upper house at stake)

Vanuatu Presidential Election: July 2022 (due – indirect election, largely ceremonial role)

Australia, Tasmania State Elections: By Mid-2022

Nauru Parliamentary Elections: August 2022 (due)

Japan, Gubernatorial Election in Okinawa: September 2022 (due)

New Zealand Local Elections: October 2022 (due)

Fiji Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Taiwan Local Elections: November 26, 2022

India, State Elections in Himachal Pradesh: November 2022 (due)

Australia, South Australia Local Elections; November 11, 2022

Australia, Victoria State Elections: November 26, 2022

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

India, State Elections in Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland: February 2023 (due)

Thailand General Elections: By March 23, 2023 (earlier elections possible)

Australia, New South Wales State Elections: March 25, 2023

Micronesia Parliamentary Elections: March 2023

Malaysia General Elections and State Elections: May 2023 (due – general elections likely to be called earlier)

India, State Elections in Karnataka: May 2023 (due)

Cambodia Parliamentary Elections: July 30, 2023 (due)

Burma Parliamentary Elections: By August 2023 (proposed – tentative, post-coup)

Maldives Presidential Election: September 2023 (due)

Tuvalu General Elections: September 2023 (due)

Singapore Presidential Election: September 2023 (expected – largely ceremonial role)

New Zealand General Elections: October 2023 (expected – due by January 2024)

Bhutan Parliamentary Elections: October 2023 (due)

India, State Elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Mizoram: November 2023 (due)

Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections: December 2023 (due)

India, State Elections in Rajasthan and Telangana: December 2023 (due)

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

Share This