Five Indian states held elections in early 2022 – a key test for the national parties – and PM Narendra Modi – ahead of national elections in 2024. In the last national 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.
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, the BJP maintained its dominance and won. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a controversial firebrand Hindu monk, will remain in office. BJP also won re-election in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. Congress suffered a surprise defeat in Punjab, the one state up for election where it had been in power, to Aam Admi (Common Person) Party, a relatively anti-corruption party that is currently in power in New Delhi’s local government.
South Korea Presidential Election: March 9, 2022
South Korea held its presidential election on March 9, 2021. The conservative former prosecutor general Yoon Suk-yeol from the People Power Party won, narrowly defeating Lee Jae-myung from the Democratic Party, the center-left party of current president 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.
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.
Turkmenistan – a highly repressive state that has never held free or fair elections and lacks a genuine political opposition – held a presidential election on March 12, 2022, nearly two yers early. The reason appears to be to cement dynastic succession, as the son of current president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, ran and won in a landslide.
Malaysia’s Johor state, which borders Singapore, held snap elections on March 12, 2022 after the state’s chief minister dissolved the state legislature (elections were originally due in 2023). 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. UNMO won the Johor elections, building on momentum from victories in other recent state elections.
Colombia held legislative elections and presidential primaries on March 13, 2022, ahead of the May 29 presidential election. Leftist former guerrilla Gustavo Petro won his primary in a landslide and is seen as the favorite to win in May. No party won a majority in the legislative elections and centrists did not perform well, exacerbating the country’s polarization.
If Petro wins in May, he will be Colombia’s first leftist president. This election follows recent leftist victories in Honduras, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia and comes ahead of Brazil’s highly polarized election, which leftist former president Lula da Silva is the favorite to win.
The Netherlands held local elections on March 16, 2022. These follow the March 2021 parliamentary elections in which Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD once again won the most seats. Coalition negotiations continued for nearly six months after the elections. The parties finally announced that they would renew the four-party coalition, and remain in government.
Turnout in the local elections was historically low, and local parties did well, beating out the country’s major parties.
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. Because no candidate got a majority, a runoff is set for April 19, 2022.
Since winning independence from Indonesia in a referendum 20 years ago, Timor-Leste has become a democracy rated Free by Freedom House, although some challenges remain.
South Australia held state elections on March 19, 2022. The center-left Labor won, defeating the incumbent center-right Liberal minority government, which had only been in office for one term. These elections come ahead of federal elections due in May. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party are struggling.
The French Collectivities of St. Martin and St. Barts hold territorial council elections on March 20 and 27, 2022. St. Martin shares an island with the Dutch territory of Sint Marteen.
The island country of Malta has scheduled parliamentary elections for March 26, 2022, a few months early (the elections were originally due in June). The current government of center-left the Labour Party is completing its second term, and opinion polls put it in the lead for the upcoming elections.
Malta sits smack in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and as such has been a coveted base of operations for empires throughout history.
Zimbabwe holds by-elections on March 26, 2022 to fill 28 parliamentary seats and 105 local seats. These come ahead of general elections due in 2023, which will be the second since the 2017 coup that led to the fall of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, who left a legacy of gross economic mismanagement and political repression. Democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe, and the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, governs in an authoritarian, repressive manner.
The Palestinian Authority is holding elections in two phases, the first of which took place on December 11, 2021, and the second of which happens on March 26, 2022. The PA has postponed its long overdue elections for the legislature and president, which had been scheduled for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 17 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006.
Germany holds several sets of state elections in 2022, following the “Superwahljahr” (Super Election Year) of 2021, which saw the defeat of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and a new “traffic light coalition” government consisting of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens.
First up is Saarland, which borders France and has in fact at times been part of France. The current government is a grand coalition of CDU and SPD.
Voting in South Korea’s 2016 legislative elections. Photo credit: WIkimedia/LPiotrus (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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