Austria, Vienna State and Municipal Elections: October 11, 2020

Austria elections


A 2008 Social Democratic Party campaign rally in Vienna’s Viktor Adler Market. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Werner Faymann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Free
Government Type
Federal Parliamentary Republic
Population
8.8 million million
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
State and Local Elections
Various
Presidential Election
December 2022 (due)
Parliamentary Elections
September/October 2024 (due)
PAST ELECTIONS
Snap Parliamentary Elections
September 29, 2019
Presidential Election
December 4, 2016
State and Local Elections
Various

Austria will hold state and local elections in Vienna on October 11, 2020. Members will elect all 100 members of the Wiener Gemeinderat und Landtag – Vienna’s combined city council and state parliament.

Political Context

Austria has nine states (Länder) that each elect their own state and local governments. They hold elections for these offices at different times, not necessarily at the same time as federal elections.

Because Vienna is both a city and a state, it elects a combined Gemeinderat (city council) and Landtag (state parliament). Each of the 100 members wears two different hats and the body either meets as the Gemeinderat to handle municipal affairs or the Landtag to handle state affairs.

Federal Political Context

Historically, Austria’s two biggest parties have been center-left Social Democrats (SPÖ) and center-right center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), and for most of the time since World War II, they have governed in grand coalition with one another. However, on two occasions, ÖVP formed governments with the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), most recently following the 2017 elections.

That coalition ended in scandal when, in May 2019, Austria’s federal government fell in a no-confidence vote – the first in Austria’s history – following the “Ibiza-gate” scandal. In short, FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who was at the time Vice Chancellor to ÖVP’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza offering state contracts in exchange for money to a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. Following the collapse of the government, Austria held new elections in September 2019. ÖVP won the most seats, and the FPÖ saw a 10 percent loss in its vote share. Kurz ultimately formed a coalition government with the Greens and reclaimed his chancellorship.

Austria’s president largely plays a ceremonial role, but the presidential election can be a gauge of the country’s mood. In a further blow to the SPÖ/ÖVP duopoly, neither party’s candidate made it to the second round of the 2016 election. Rather, the final round was a closely-fought battle between FPÖ’s Norbert Hofer and former Green leader Alexander Van der Bellen, which Van der Bellen won. However, the process was turbulent – the original result of the runoff was annulled and re-run several months later due to irregularities with postal ballots (Van der Bellen won both times).

Vienna State and Local Political Context

Vienna’s last state elections took place on October 11, 2015. Historically, the SPÖ has dominated “Red Vienna.” In that vein, the current government is a coalition of the SPÖ and the Greens, which hold a combined 54 seats (44 for SPÖ and 10 for the Greens). Conversely, the biggest opposition party is the FPÖ, which has 31 seats, its best-ever result. Moreover, in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, FPÖ made gains in several Austrian state elections. In fact, ahead of the 2015 Vienna elections, 80 percent of voters had identified refugees as their top concern.

ÖVP holds only seven seats. The liberal NEOS holds five seats. The remaining three seats belong to the far-right Alliance for Austria (DAO), which split off from FPÖ in December 2019 following Ibiza-gate. 

In the upcoming elections, nine parties will appear on the ballot. Parties that earn at least 5 percent of the vote will get seats. One new party will be Strache’s Team HC Strache, which he founded after being expelled from FPÖ following Ibiza-gate. Strache himself will be a candidate. As a result, the far-right is divided and FPÖ is expected to reduce its vote share.

Geopolitical Context

Austria is a member of the European Union, but not a member of NATO. In that vein, it considers itself a bridge between east and west.

Curated News and Analysis

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, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated August 15, 2020

21votes Official Relaunch: September 21, 2020

We’re officially relaunching on September 21, 2020, with a fully updated Global Election Map and our weekly roundup of key election news for each region, plus a few design improvements on our site. In the meantime, we’ll continue to tweet major election news.

Looking forward to re-engaging soon!

Egypt Senate Elections: August 11-12, 2020 and Parliamentary Elections: November 2020 (due) and Local Elections: 2020 (due)

Egypt elections

A voter in Egypt’s 2012 presidential election shows her inked finger, proof that she voted. Photo credit: VOA/Yuli Weeks (public domain)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Not Free
Government Type
Presidential Republic
Population
104.1 million
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
Senate Elections
August 11-12, 2020
Parliamentary Elections

November 2020 (due)
Local Elections
2020 (overdue)
Presidential Election
2024 (due)
PAST ELECTIONS
Presidential Election
March 26-28, 2018
Parliamentary Elections
October 17-December 2, 2015
Senate Elections
January 29-February 22, 2012
Local Elections
April 8, 2008

Egypt is due to hold several sets of elections this year.

First, the country plans to hold elections to upper house, the Shura Council (or Senate), August 11-12, 2020. The Senate was dissolved in 2013, but reinstated in the 2019 constitution, and voters will elect 200 members while the president appoints the remaining 100.

Second, elections for the lower house of parliament (the House of Representatives, Majles Al Nowwab) are due to take place this November – voters elect 564 of the 596 members and the president appoints the remaining 28.

Third, long-overdue local elections are supposed to take place this year, but additional delays are possible. Egypt has not had elected local governments since 2011.

Political Context

In 2011, the 30-year autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak (who died in February 2020) collapsed following a spontaneous citizen uprising. The scholar H.A. Hellyer posits: “The 2011 uprising was spontaneous—one that happened as the result of many years of neglect and the failing of the Egyptian state to give a sense of dignity to scores of Egyptians.” The leaders of the protests were young, largely secular, and liberal, and in those heady days, optimism reigned. However, reality quickly set in as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood seized the opportunity.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Under Mubarak, Egypt’s largest opposition group was the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood initially had a paramilitary wing, but it officially foreswore violence in the 1970. In the 1980s, even though it was technically banned, the Brotherhood began running parliamentary candidates in cooperation with other parties or as independents. Eventually, Brotherhood-affiliated members of parliament became the biggest opposition group. The stated goal of the Brotherhood and its affiliates in other countries is the establishment of sharia, but in many places, including Egypt, it has gained popularity through providing charity and social services.

Muslim Brotherhood Gains Ground After 2011 Uprising

Because the Brotherhood had spent years training its followers and building a strong movement, it was in a prime position to capitalize on the newly-opened political space. The newly-created, Brotherhood-aligned Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won the most seats in the 2011 parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the secular liberal activists who had organized the protests dispersed themselves into a handful of smaller parties that lacked the organizational capacity to mobilize effectively.

Egypt held its first competitive presidential election in 2012. It was closely fought, but ultimately, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, beat the military’s candidate, Ahmed Shafik, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Morsi subsequently arrested Shafik (indeed, Egypt has never had a presidential election with more than one candidate in which the losing candidate was not arrested – Mubarak allowed secular liberal opposition Ayman Nour to run in 2005 – Egypt’s only other presidential election with more than one candidate – and then proceeded to arrest him following the election).

Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and Reestablishment of Military Rule

However, Morsi himself lasted less than one year in power. In July 2013, he fell in coup, following mass protests against his heavy-handed rule. The new government restored the military’s dominance. Following a year-long interim government, Egypt held a presidential election in May 2014 which the military’s candidate, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won in a landslide. Al-Sisi proceeded to arrest Morsi (who died in court in 2019 while facing espionage charges) and declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The resulting crackdown led to thousands of Brothers being jailed. Nonetheless, it continues to operate underground, albeit at a reduced capacity.

The 2018 presidential election, which saw al-Sisi re-elected for a second term, was neither free nor fair, and took place in an environment of harassment and intimidation of the opposition. The opposition remains weak and divided heading into the upcoming elections.

Geopolitical Context

Egypt is important geopolitically. First, it controls the Suez Canal, a key geopolitical choke point. Second, it is the most populous Arabic-speaking country, and its soft power can help steer the direction of other countries in the region.

Egypt has a strong security relationship with the United States, including military-to-military ties. In 2019, al-Sisi asked United States President Donald Trump to declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and Trump announced his intent to do so. However, the issue remains controversial in American policy circles.

Curated News and Analysis

AP (July 30, 2020): Rights group: Egypt’s new laws entrench el-Sissi’s rule

Reuters (June 17, 2020): Egypt passes electoral changes that could bolster Sisi supporters

H.A. Hellyer, Foreign Policy (February 25, 2020):  Hosni Mubarak Is Dead, and His Downfall Is His Legacy: The Egyptian strongman’s presidency ended in 2011, but the factors that led to his political demise remain.

Hossam Rabie, Al-Monitor (November 1, 2019): Egypt plans to reinstate municipal oversight councils

Andrew England, Financial Times (October 2, 2019): A broken Muslim Brotherhood struggles for relevance

Thanassis Cambanis, The Atlantic (June 18, 2019): Egypt’s Only Democratic Leader Helped Kill Its Democracy

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, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated August 10, 2020

Pakistan Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Elections: Possibly October 2020 (postponed from August 18, 2020)

Pakistan elections


Attabad Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Jameel Ahmed (CC BY-SA 3.0)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Partly Free
Government Type
Federal Parliamentary Republic
Population
233 million
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Elections
August 18, 2020 (postponed)
General Elections
By August 2023 (snap possible)
PAST ELECTIONS
Khyber
July 7, 2017
General Elections (Parliamentary and provincial)
July 25, 2018

Pakistan’s administrative territory of Gilgit-Baltistan (the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir) was scheduled to hold elections for its Legislative Assembly on August 18, 2020, but the elections have been postponed for at least two months due to delays in preparations such as completing the voter list. The current assembly members’ terms ended in June, and political parties have opposed the delay.

Political Context

Pakistan has various administrative units that elect their own legislatures. The four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh) elect their legislatures at the same time as general elections. Gilgit-Baltistan and the territory of Azad Kashmir hold their elections at other times.

Gilgit-Baltistan is an administrative territory whose status has been somewhat in flux because all of the ongoing dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. In short, Gilgit-Baltistan’s status as an autonomous administrative territory – as opposed to a province fully incorporated into Pakistan’s political structure – has the potential to keep tensions with India on a low boil.

The downside to the arrangement is a democracy deficit. The territory lacked its own legislature until the 2009 Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order established the legislative assembly. India opposed the establishment of Gilgit-Baltistan’s legislative assembly and routinely objects vociferously to the holding of elections in Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan responded to recent criticism by pointing out that India holds elections in the India-controlled parts of Kashmir). Moreover, while the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are now able to elect local representatives, the territory still isn’t represented in Pakistan’s federal parliament in Islamabad (a 2019 Pakistani Supreme Court ruling provided for representation in parliament subject to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute – which does not look likely to be resolved anytime soon).

Pakistan’s National Political Context 

Following Pakistan’s turbulent 2018 general election, former cricket star Imran Khan – seen as the military’s preferred candidate – became prime minister when his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the most seats. The main opposition parties are former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), founded by Zulfikar Bhutto and still led by members of the Bhutto family.

Political Situation in Gilgit-Baltistan 

PML-N won the most seats 2015 Gilgit-Baltistan elections. Conversely, PPP and PTI won one seat each. At the time, Nawaz Sharif was prime minister as PML-N had won Pakistan’s 2013 general elections. However, many prominent political figures in Gilgit-Baltistan have joined PTI ahead of these elections.

In that vein, political commentator Muhammed Amir Rana argues: “Politics in Azad Kashmir and [Gilgit-Baltistan] is mainly steered by the power corridors in Islamabad. This is a general belief that the ruling party in Islamabad will form the government in these regions. The different election timeframes of these regions from national polls in Pakistan make political engineering easy for gaining the required numbers in the local legislative assemblies.”

Geopolitical Context

The entire Kashmir region, which borders Afghanistan and China’s Xinjiang Province, is a geopolitical hotspot. Both India and Pakistan claim the entirety of Kashmir, and it has sparked several wars. The region remains heavily militarized.

The India-controlled part of Kashmir has been in crisis since August 2019. In a surprise move, the Modi government made a unilateral decision to strip the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir of its autonomy. For seventy years, the Indian-controlled part – established as the state of Jammu and Kashmir and India’s only Muslim-majority state – enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, but Modi announced that the state would be downgraded into two union territories, effectively centralizing control. The area remains on lockdown a year later. The situation has unsurprisingly exacerbated tensions between India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, China has been ramping up its presence in the region. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, runs through Gilgit-Baltistan.

Curated News and Analysis

Muhammed Amir Rana, DAWN Pakistan (July 26, 2020): Political Landscape of GB

Daily Times Pakistan (July 13, 2020): Gilgit-Baltistan polls postponed for at least two months

PTI, May 17, 2020): Pakistan President Arif Alvi issues order to form caretaker government, conduct elections in Gilgit-Baltistan

The Hindu (May 4, 2020): India protests Pakistan Supreme Court move to allow elections in Gilgit Baltistan

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, The Diplomat (February 16, 2019): Gilgit-Baltistan: Pakistan’s Geopolitical Loophole

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, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

Updated August 8, 2020