January 2023 Election Review

January 8

Benin Legislative Elections

Benin had been a stable democracy until 2016, when President Patrice Talon started the country down a more authoritarian path. The opposition was exuded from the 2019 legislative elections. However, they were able to run this year, and won 28 out of 109 seats.

The next presidential election is due in 2026 and it is unclear whether Talon will pursue another term.

January 13 and 14

Czech Republic Presidential Election

January 15

Pakistan, Local Elections in Karachi and Hyderabad

Although Karachi is a stronghold of support for former PM Imran Khan, the government staged an upset and won these elections. Khan was ousted in an April 2022 vote of no confidence and former opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif became prime minister. Elections are due in October 2023, but Khan has been trying to force an earlier vote.

January 14

Kazakhstan Senate Elections

Part of Kazakhstan’s “realignment without real reform” following violent protests last year. A sweep for the government. Snap parliamentary elections are coming up March 19.

January 18

Antigua and Barbuda Snap Elections

Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his center-left Labour Party secured a third term in office, albeit with a reduced parliamentary majority.

Reuters notes: “Following the death of Queen Elizabeth in September, Brown said Antigua and Barbuda will hold a referendum within three years on becoming a republic, which could lead to the removal of Britain’s King Charles as head of state.”

January 20

Tunisia Legislative Runoffs

Turnout was only 11 percent as President Kais Saied is rolling back many of the reforms that came out of the Arab Spring.

Trinidad and Tobago Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament)

Christine Carla Kangaloo was elected.

January 21

Slovakia Referendum on Early Elections

A center-right, broadly Atlanticist coalition unseated Slovakia’s left-wing populist government in 2020, but the coalition has had trouble staying together. The opposition has been pushing for snap election. The referendum didn’t have sufficient turnout to be binding, but parliament passed a law making early elections possible anyway.

Geopolitical impact: If former PM Robert Fico wins the elections and gets back in office, he could change Slovakia’s position toward Ukraine. Slovakia currently backs Kyiv, but Fico opposes sending weapons and has become even more pro-Russia in his time out of office.

January 27-28

Czech Republic Presidential Runoff

Retired general Petr Pavel defeated controversial former prime minister Andrej Babiš in the Czech Republic’s presidential runoff in January. Incumbent Milos Zeman, who has been in power for 10 years and did not run for re-election, built closer ties with Russia and China.

Pavel, a former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, favors pro-West policies, while populist Babiš has criticized support for Ukraine and the EU more generally.

January 29

Austria, Lower Austria State Elections

The center-right ÖVP lost its absolute majority in the January 29 state election in Lower Austria – an ÖVP stronghold – as right-wing populist FPÖ made gains.

This is a bad omen for ÖVP (which currently heads the federal government in coalition with the Greens) ahead of general elections next year. Lower Austria is an ÖVP stronghold, and the home region of many of the party’s leaders.

Continuing in January 2023

Lebanon Presidential Election (by parliament)

Lebanon is in a political crisis as parliament has repeatedly failed to elect a president. Without a president, the government is somewhat hobbled. The situation indicates a decline in Hezbollah’s influence – while the president is always a Maronite Christian per Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing arrangement, Hezbollah has historically been able to call the shots with regard to which Maronite gets elected. But because Hezbollah’s allies lost their majority in parliament following last year’s elections, there has been pushback and Hezbollah has not yet succeeded in getting its candidate elected.

A voter in the Czech Republic in 2014. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Jan Kameníček (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Next: February 2023 Elections

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