January 2022 Election Outlook

A ballot being cast in Finland’s 2018 presidential election. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Santeri Viinamäki (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Bangladesh Partial Local Elections: January 5, 2022

Some of Bangladesh’s towns hold local elections in the coming months. Bangladesh last held general elections to the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) in December 2018 amid political violence and harassment of the opposition. The next polls are due in December 2022 or early 2023. The Awami League (AL) has been in power since 2009 and is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

On the geopolitical front, Bangladesh has risen in importance in recent years in the midst of high economic growth.

Serbia Constitutional Referendum: January 16, 2022

Serbia holds a constitutional referendum on matters related to the judiciary on January 16, 2022, followed by early presidential and parliamentary elections in April.

The country held held snap parliamentary elections on June 21, 2020 in a climate of mistrust. Many opposition parties boycotted, and therefore, President Alexander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) dominated. Amid the tension, Vucic announced that the new parliament would not serve a full term, and that the Serbia would hold both presidential and parliamentary elections by April 2022.

Serbia has tried to balance movement toward joining the European Union (EU) with maintaining good relations with Russia. The constitutional referendum is in direct response to issues raised by the EU, and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (which advises on constitutional law and democracy) has said it supports the proposed changes. In general, pro-European Serbians support the referendum, but some members of Vucic’s SNS (which is a big-tent party that has numerous factions) are campaigning against it.

Barbados Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 19, 2022

Barbados will hold snap parliamentary elections on January 19, following a decision made in September 2021 to remove the British monarch as head of state and become a republic. The elections come one year early.

In the last elections, in 2018, the center-left Barbados Labor Party (BLP, knicknamed the “Bees”) won all 30 seats (and currently hold 29). Before that, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP, “Dems”) held power for 10 years. The DLP is seen as being to the left of the BLP, having been founded by a group that broke away in 1955 (the BLP was founded in 1938). However, politics in Barbados tends to be driven by personalities.

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022

Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, is holding snap elections on January 22 following the resignation of the government. In last year’s presidential election, Ankara-backed nationalist Ersin Tatar won, exacerbating tensions on the island. The elections are taking place amid widespread protests and a tanking economy.

Cyprus is divided between the mostly Greek-speaking south and the Turkish-speaking north, and both Greece and Turkey play in the country’s politics.

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2022

Senegal has set local elections – originally due in June 2019 but delayed several times – for January 31, 2022. After that, legislative elections are due in July 2022.

Long considered a stable democracy, backsliding has been taking place under President Macky Sall, who has been accused of prosecuting his political opponents on politically-motivated charges (Freedom House downgraded the country from Free to Partly Free in 2020). Consequently, Senegal saw violent protests in March 2021 following rape charges against former opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, and further protests in November 2021. Some are concerned that Sall could attempt to seek an unconstitutional third term, especially if his allies win another majority in the 2022 legislative elections.

Most of the current mayors are members of Sall’s Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition, although not the mayor of the capital, Dakar. As Danielle Resnick of the Brookings Institution notes, “The city is fiercely contested because it houses a quarter of the country’s population, produces 55 percent of national GDP, and generates 80 percent of the country’s employment opportunities.” The opposition has a good chance of holding Dakar in these elections.

A series of oil and gas discoveries starting in 2014 have set Senegal up to become a player in energy production. Sall is a former oil executive and thus has focused on beginning production.

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

On January 23, 2022, Finland will hold elections to newly-created county councils. These councils will assume responsibility for providing healthcare (the responsibility previously fell to municipal councils).

Following the 2019 parliamentary elections, a left-leaning coalition came into government nationally. The conservative National Coalition Party won the most seats in the local elections, with the Social Democrats placing second. The far-right Finns Party made gains in its vote share.

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: Begins January 24, 2022

Italy’s parliament will begin the process of choosing a president on January 24. Although Italy’s president does not have much formal executive power, current president Sergio Mattarella, who is not seeking another term, has become increasingly powerful as a mediator in Italy’s recent series of political crises.

Current prime minister Mario Draghi has indicated interest in the role, which could trigger snap elections if the current broad coalition of right and left-wing parties does not hold together. Italy is currently not due for parliamentary elections until 2023. Some fear another bout of instability if Draghi leaves his current role – Draghi’s accession to the role of prime minister ended the last round of political chaos.

In addition, none other than former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – currently age 85 – is also angling for the role in a campaign dubbed “Operation Squirrel.” Numerous other political figures could be put forward for nomination.

Nepal National Assembly Elections: January 26, 2022 (voting for 1/3 of upper house)

Nepal holds elections for a third of the National Assembly, the upper house of the bicameral parliament, on January 26, 2022.

Snap elections to the lower house – which selects the government – are also possible later this year. Nepal had planned to hold snap elections for the lower house in November 2021, following a protracted political crisis, but then those elections were cancelled. 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 locus 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. The results of the elections could impact Nepal’s geopolitical position.

Bahamas, Local Elections on Grand Bahama: January 27, 2022

The Bahamas will hold local elections on Grand Bahama, the country’s third-largest island, on January 27. The Bahamas’ most recent elections were snap elections on September 16, eight months early.

The Bahamas is a democracy and the two main parties, the governing center-right Free National Movement (FNM) and the center-left main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have both done stints in power. In these elections, PLP ousted FNM.

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Portugal will hold snap elections on January 30, following the government’s defeat in a crucial budget vote.

The two main parties, center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and leftist Socialist Party (PS), regularly alternate in power. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, PSD won a plurality of seats and briefly formed a minority government, which collapsed after less than two months. PS leader Antonio Costa formed a left-wing coalition and became prime minister. In the 2019 elections, the Socialists won again, but did not get a majority. Subsequently, Costa formed a minority government

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