May 19, 2022
A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Eurasia, usually posted on Thursdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.
Gergeti Trinity Church near Stepantsminda, Georgia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Levan Gokadze (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: By October 2023 and Presidential Election: By March 2024
Ukraine is due to hold parliamentary elections in 2023 and a presidential election in 2024.
In the last presidential vote, in 2019, actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy beat incumbent Petro Poroshenko running on an anti-establishment platform. However, since then, the country’s traditional pro-Europe and pro-Moscow political forces have regained ground. Since the invasion, Ukrainians have rallied around Zelenskyy, but the United Kingdom and others have warned that Russia seeks to topple his government and install a pro-Moscow puppet regime.
Russia’s military aggression, which began in 2014, continues. Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. While Russia had perhaps expected that Ukraine’s government would collapse quickly, it has held. Moreover, most of Ukraine’s political factions have rallied behind Zelenskyy, with former rivals Yulia Tymoshenko and Petro Poroshenko (recently released from prison) posing for photos with him. Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) has met in its chamber, with members singing the national anthem. Most if not all members of the Rada have remained in Ukraine, either to continue to carry out their legislative duties or to fight with the military.
Marisa Schulz, Fox News (May 14, 2022): Russia will manipulate Kherson election results to support leaving Ukraine, UK says
Georgia Parliamentary Elections: October 2024 (due – snap elections possible)
Georgia is due to hold parliamentary elections in October 2024, but snap elections could happen. The October 2021 local elections took place in a tense political climate, exacerbated by the arrest of former president Mikheil Saakashvili upon his return to the country on the eve of the vote. Runoffs took place on October 30, including for the important role of mayor of Tbilisi, which the ruling Georgian Dream party failed to win in the first round. Ultimately, Georgian Dream did win the second round amid criticism from the opposition. The opposition has been calling for new elections since October 2020’s parliamentary polls, due to claims of fraud. International observers noted significant flaws in the elections, and observed that there were issues with public confidence in the polls.
Georgian Dream, a coalition founded by eccentric and Kremlin-connected oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, came to power during the 2012 parliamentary elections, ousting Saakasvili’s pro-European, pro-NATO United National Movement. Despite Ivanishvili’s Kremlin ties, Georgian Dream has continued some of Georgia’s steps toward Euro-Atlantic integration, including applying for EU membership.
Shota Kincha, OC Media (May 19, 2022): Protests and Western condemnation follow jailing of Georgian government critic
Maryam Ugrekhelidze, Voice of America (May 18, 2022): Jailing of Georgian Media Owner Sends ‘Bad Message’
Nini Gabritchidze, Eurasianet (May 16, 2022): Georgia facing tough questions with bid for EU membership
Reuters (May 12, 2022): Georgia’s jailed ex-president transferred to clinic for treatment
Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022
Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, held a constitutional referendum on February 27, 2022 as a way of extending his time in power (he has been president since 1994 – the first and only president of post-Soviet Belarus). The changes allow Lukashenko to remain in office until 2035 and scrap Belarus’s non-nuclear status. Belarus’s elections and political processes are neither free nor fair.
The country las held a presidential election on August 9, 2020. In a vote widely deemed not free and not fair, Lukashenko declared victory. However, the opposition declared that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had in fact won. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest to demand free and fair elections, even in the face of assault and arrest by security forces. Protests and political defiance continue.
In addition, Russia staged troops in Belarus ahead of its invasion of Ukraine. More
Antony J. Blinken, U.S. Department of State (May 18, 2022 – press statement): Possible Death Penalty against Pro-Democracy Activists and Anti-War Protesters in Belarus
Kazakhstan Constitutional Referendum: June 5, 2022
Russia Regional Elections (some regions): September 11, 2022 (due)
Turkmenistan Parliamentary and Local Elections: March 2023 (due)
Moldova Local Elections: October 2023 (due)
Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: By October 29, 2023 (due)
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