2024 could be the year with the largest number of inhabitants of the planet called to the polls to choose parliaments and leaders. Around 2 billion people in 56 countries. If administrative and local consultations are also considered, the states rise to 76.
The procedures will not always be democratic. But in some cases the results will still have important repercussions not only in individual states. We will see the most important challenges in detail below.
Among others, we remember Bangladesh (7 January 2024, where there is already talk of disinformation carried out through artificial intelligence). Pakistan (8 February 2024), Belarus (24 February, Lukashenko’s reconfirmation expected), Iran (1 March), and Portugal (10 March). Belgium (9 June), Austria (probably in the autumn) and Great Britain (almost certainly by the year).
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The tug of war for Taiwan
The eighth direct presidential election in Taiwan is scheduled for January 13, 2024 as part of the general election. Vital strategic interests for Taipei are at stake here, and there will be consequences for both the policies of its allies the United States and its rival China.
If the election campaign began with expectations in America that the ruling, pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose leaders are frequent and welcome guests in Washington, would achieve an easy victory, the final stages of the race have turned into a very tense challenge.
The latest polls put DPP leader William Lai at 35.2%, just ahead of his main challenger Hou Yu-ih, of the Kuomintang (KMT), closer to Beijing, estimated at 30.6%. And China itself seems to be acting in the shadows to pollute a vote that could weigh on Xi Jinping’s plans for the reannexation of the island.
Indonesia, the largest direct election
More than 200 million people are entitled to vote in the Indonesian elections on February 14, the largest direct presidential vote in the world, in the most populous Muslim country, where traditional religious and cultural tolerance – included in the Constitution – has suffered recent blows.
Three candidates – Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan – are vying to replace two-term President Joko Widodo.
According to many observers, the elections “will concern the future of democracy and political culture in Indonesia”.
Russia, Putin towards power for life
Between 15 and 17 March Vladimir Putin will attempt to extend his mandate to 2030. The Tsar has sat in the Kremlin as president of Russia since 31 December 1999, with a 4-year break from 2008 to 2012, when he was “only” first minister.
The Constitution would not prohibit him from running again until 2036. Obviously, there are no credible rivals on the horizon. There will be around thirty names on the ballot, to give a semblance of democracy to the procedure. Even among them, however, anyone who can annoy is excluded beforehand.
This is the case of the pacifist Ekaterina Duntsova, former journalist and city councilor, activist for democracy and the end of the offensive in Ukraine, which was rejected by the Central Election Commission, due to “errors in the documents presented”.
But it is known that the the only real potential challenger, the dissident Alexei Navalny, has been locked up for years on flimsy charges. He was recently transferred to a penal colony beyond the Arctic Circle, from where he cannot disturb.
India, Modi seeks his third mandate
General elections in the world’s most populous nation and largest democracy (the country has 1.4 billion people and 950 million registered voters) will take place over several weeks in April and May.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will seek a third consecutive five-year term. The 73-year-old prime minister continues to enjoy widespread popularity, thanks to (and despite) growing Hindu nationalism and economic successes. While the opposition struggles to gain space.
In an attempt to mount an effective challenge to the BJP, around twenty parties have formed an alliance called INDIA, an acronym for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. The cartel includes the Indian National Congress, Gandhi’s party, which hopes to return to its heyday. However, recent signs have not been encouraging for Modi’s challengers.
Mexico, duel between women for the presidency
Two women, Claudia Sheinbaum and Xóchitl Gálvez, will be running in Mexico on June 2 to succeed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The candidate of López Obrador’s Morena coalition, Let’s Continue Making History (Seguimos Haciendo Historia), is the former mayor of Mexico City Sheinbaum (ahead in the polls). She will have to contend with Senator Gálvez, candidate of the Broad Front for Mexico (Frente Amplio por México/FAM), the main opposition alliance.
Nearly 100 million voters are called upon to give a six-year mandate to a leader who will have to address the country’s main problems, linked to the violence of drug trafficking cartels, corruption and migratory flows towards the United States.
European Union, the sovereignist challenge
Between 6 and 9 June, 400 million Europeans will be called to the polls to elect the new Parliament in Strasbourg.
The first outgoing force is the People’s Party, allied with the socialists and the liberals, which brought the popular Ursula Von der Leyen to the presidency of the Commission.
Forecasts point to a growth of Eurosceptic or sovereignist forces. But recent results in Spain, Poland and the Netherlands have provided contrasting indications on general trends.
There is also the possibility that there is a reshuffle in the composition of political families, including scenarios that see the movement of the Fidesz party of Hungarian Viktor Orbán, who left the EPP. Nor is a new majority between the popular and conservatives ruled out, where the Brothers of Italy would play a key role.
The spotlight will also be on the results in individual countries, such as Germany and France, with important tests for the respective governments, undermined by the centre-right oppositions.
United States, the unknowns about Trump’s return
On November 5, the 60th vote in the history of the United States will take place to elect the president, who will remain in office in the White House for four years, from January 2025.
It promises to be one of the most heated elections with unpredictable outcomes in American history, in which turnout (usually low) will have a significant weight.
The unknown is not so much the choice between the two candidates – the outgoing leader, the Democrat Joe Biden, and the Republican challenger Donald Trump. But rather the effects of a victory for the latter.
The tycoon, who has been indicted and put on trial, could make disruptive decisions both domestically and internationally. Thus creating a domestic fracture and reshuffling global balances.
The war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East, the tug-of-war over Taiwan. And moreover, relations with the European Union and climate policies are the hot fronts on which Trump’s election would have important and perhaps even revolutionary effects, such as the rumored US exit from NATO.