2013 was an exciting year for national elections, with some more newsworthy than others. The world watched as Iran elected President Hassan Rouhani, signaling the possibility of improved cooperation with the international community. The death of Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, resulted in a special presidential election bringing to power a likely successor. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the front runner, was re-elected for yet another term. The list continues. Other notable elections were held in Chile, Australia, Kenya, Pakistan, and the Czech Republic.
The year 2014 is expected to be even more noteworthy with elections impacting not just the country holding the election, but international relations as a whole. A few of the much-anticipated elections are highlighted below, with links to additional resources. To see a full list of the 2014 elections, visit www.electionguide.org.
These elections, slated for April 2014, are expected to be the country’s most important elections since the Taliban fell in 2001. The current leader President Hamid Karzai is not permitted to run for a third term, leaving this critical spot open at a time when all international presence is expected to withdraw by the end of the calendar year. As experts claim, with strong Taliban presence still in much of the country, and voter fraud likely, it is unclear what the outcome of the elections will be.
“2014 Presidential and Provincial Council Elections in Afghanistan” – United States Institute for Peace
“Lack of Cash and Monitors to Add to Afghan Election Troubles” – Reuters
“Sixteen Afghan Election Hopefuls Disqualified” – Al Jazeera
“Wooing the Warlords” – Foreign Policy
In Brazil, it’s not a question of whether current President Dilma Rousseff will keep her job—many see her as the likely winner. The difficulty stems from whether she will do well enough in the first round to avoid a run-off election. Rousseff’s popularity has suffered recently after a wave a protests on inflation, inequality, and poor government services. However, a likely opposing candidate Mariana Silva missed the deadline to register her party to be on the ballot, and is instead running as vice president on the Socialist Party ticket.
“Brazilian Leader’s Strategy Bolsters Re-Election Chances: poll” – Reuters
“Poor, Middle Class unite in Brazil Protests” – CNN (video)
“Power Couple” – The Economist
President Dilma Rousseff profile – BBC
For four days in late May, citizens of European Union member states will head to the polls to elect those who will represent them at the European Parliament; the only directly elected body in the European Union. An estimated 751 Members of Parliament (MEPs) are to be elected this year. A fixed number of MEPs is allowed per member country, a formula based population size—similar to the United State’s House of Representatives. These numbers range from six MEPs for small countries like Malta, to 96 for larger countries like Germany. It is unclear how the Parliament will be organized given the frustration across Europe following the European Union debt crisis. This has led to a rise in more populist and nationalist parties like the UK’s Independence Party, Finland’s True Finns, and the France’s Front National.
European Parliament Elections – European Union
“Le Pen and Wilders forge plan to ‘wrek’ EU from within” – The Guardian
“Six months to go, momentum builds ahead of EU parliament vote” – Reuters
This spring (April or May), India will hold parliamentary elections for its lower house, the Lok Sabha. Voter turnout is always high during elections in India. In terms of numbers, this year more than 700 million people are expected to head to more than 800,000 polling stations and cast votes for more than 1,300 political parties. An upset is likely in this election, and one that could bring an end to the 10 year reign of the current leadership dominated by the Gandhi family. Voters are frustrated with slow economic growth, corruption, and inadequate infrastructure. The leading opponent is Narendra Modi the Chief Minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The current Indonesian President has reached his two term limit and will have to step down in 2015. The current Governor of the capital city Jakarta, Joko Widodo, is the likely candidate to take over. Widodo is extremely well-liked by his constituents, and has even been called Jakarta’s “Obama”. Despite his popularity, Widodo has been vocal about his decision to not enter the race if Megawiti Surkarnoputri, leader of his party, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, plans to enter the race first. Surkarnoputri was a one-term President of Indonesia from 2001-2004. Throughout the country, growth has slowed, and corruption remains leaving the incoming president, whoever they should be, with a busy task ahead.
“Flooding Tests ‘Jakarta’s Obama’ – BBC
“In Indonesia, a Governor at Home on the Streets” – NY Times
“Indonesia’s next parliament: celebrities, incumbents and dynastic members?” – East Asia Forum
“Jakarta Outsider Joko Widodo Tipped for National Role” – Financial Times
Parliamentary elections are anticipated for April 2014. With the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn a law limiting the incumbent to two terms, the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki is expected to run for a third term. There are two factors at play here impacting the election outcomes for Maliki. First, Maliki’s party, State of Law, now controls fewer than half of the Shiite dominated provinces following the 2013 provincial elections. The second factor, which has the potential to play in Maliki’s favor, is that rival parties may opt for Maliki to remain in power in order to avoid the violent consequences of a political transition.
2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa, and with the recent passing of iconic hero Nelson Mandela, the country is on everyone’s mind. The African National Congress (ANC), the party responsible for leading the fight against apartheid, is likely to stay in power, as is current President Jacob Zuma. However, a loss in party seats is expected. High unemployment and government corruption are growing concerns that may factor into this election. In addition, the rising younger generation born after the end of apartheid feels less attached to the cause.
“Generation Born After Apartheid Sees Mandela’s Fight as History” – NY Times
President Jacob Zuma profile – BBC
“South African ‘Born Frees’ Uninterested in 2014 Election” – Bloomberg
“South Africa’s Huge Youth Unemployment Problem” – BBC (Video)
In August of this year, Turks will directly elect their president for the first time in history. All past presidents, a traditionally ceremonious role, have been indirectly elected. What makes this election so interesting is the role of current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose term as Prime Minister will come to an end in 2015. In 2012, Erdogan and the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), proposed changes to the current constitution giving the President more power. If elected, Erdogan would be the longest reigning Turkish leader since the country was founded in 1923. However, with Kurdish tension growing and backlash following the AKP’s response to the Gezi protests, Erdogan could have a difficult time securing the necessary votes.
“Abdullah Gul Hints at Battle for Turkish Presidency” – The Guardian
“Turkey’s Charismatic Pro-Islamic Leader” – BBC
“Turkey’s Dark Clouds for Election Year 2014” – Huffington Post
“Turkey’s Protests – Three Things to Know” – Council on Foreign Relations
Let us not forget the United Nations Security Council which will elect five new non-permanent members in October. The Security Council is made up of five permanent members (France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and ten non-permanent members elected on an alternating basis annually. Potential candidates include Angola, Fiji, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, and Turkey.
Other notable elections to watch include:
- Bangladesh (Parliamentary Election)
- Columbia (Presidential Election)
- Egypt (Referendum on proposed constitution)
- Hungary (Parliamentary Election)
- Scotland (Referendum on whether to become an independent country)
- United States (Congressional Election)
A disclaimer (just in case): Any opinions expressed in the resources listed above are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. We suggest you review any resources for appropriateness and quality before utilizing them.