What happens to democracy in 2022 elections not just important in USA

Jan 14th, 2022 | By | Category: In Brief
Untitled by Michael Seward, January 2022.

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, 14 JANUARY 2022. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested in the US mid term elections some 10 months down the road, on November 8, 2022.

There will also be contests for Governor in three territories and 36 states (20 now Republican, 16 Democrat), along with “numerous other state and local elections.”

In the current toxically partisan and intensely polarized American political climate it is easy enough to see the 2022 mid-term elections, when the President’s party traditionally takes a hit in any case, as some all too crucial moment for the future of Democracy in America.

The Big Lie that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election is still prominent in the Republican party. And the unofficially bipartisan but largely Democratic select committee of the House on the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol in Washington by Trump supporters is hard at work. What could possibly go wrong … etc?

Democracy in America and Democracy in the Global Village

Frederick Douglass with his (second) wife Helen Pitts (sitting) and his sister-in-law Eva Pitts (standing). Very controversially for the time, the black Douglass married the white feminist Helen Pitts in 1884 after Anna Murray, his first (black) wife, died.

In 2022 the future of democracy in the global village probably does still have something to do with what happens to the future of the USA on November 8. But my mostly non-American sense is that this is not at all as important as it was when Alexis de Tocqueville first published his classic study of Democracy in America, in two volumes in 1835 and 1840.

Modern democracy still owes widely acknowledged debts to the experiment of the American Republic launched in the late 18th century. But by the start of the 21st century the modern democratic gospel that blossomed during the early history of the Republic had spread around the planet.

In the USA of the 1830s and 1840s the gospel was memorably reported on by the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville and “Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” just before the 1850s road to the inevitable American Civil War 1861–1865, followed by the long pathway that leads to now.

In the 2020s the number of people living in democracies outside the United States (broadly defined in some cases) is several times larger than the number inside the United States. Several of the larger cases in point will also be having elections this year. And some of them might be as consequential for the modern democratic future on planet earth as the anxiously awaited 2022 mid-term elections in the USA.

2022 elections outside United States

“Picasso and His Goat: Private World” by Michael Seward, January 2022.

To start with where I live myself, on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario, Canada will be joining the United States in at least some of its democratic election drama this year. With the Trudeau minority government in Ottawa never entirely sure of its future, there could even be a federal election at some point in 2022 — though it seems hard to think of who might want that just yet.

There will in any case be interesting 2022 provincial elections in the two most populous Canadian provinces — in Ontario on June 2 and Quebec on October 3. And then there will be general municipal elections in four provinces as well — Ontario on October 24, Manitoba on October 26, PEI on November 7, and BC on November 19, 2022.

Indian PM Narendra Modi welcomes Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and family on their 2018 visit to Delhi.

Much more to the point there will also be important 2022 democratic elections, broadly defined, in other places, including Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, India, Kenya, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, and Sweden.

Moreover, these 12 countries taken together have a current total population of more than 1.9 billion people — more than five and a half times greater than the 343 million in the USA today, and some four times greater even if the 131 million in Mexico and 38 million in Canada are added to the US total!

2022 election calendar for 12 countries outside USA

The 2022 election calendar for the same 12 countries runs something like —

JANUARY 19 : General election in Barbados ;

JANUARY 30 : Portuguese legislative election ;

FEBRUARY 6 and APRIL 3: Costa Rican general election ;

Concerns about low voter registration in fall of 2021 could affect 2022 elections in Kenya.

MARCH 9 : South Korean presidential election ;

APRIL 10 and 24 : French presidential election ; JUNE 12 and 19 : French legislative elections ;

MAY 5 : Northern Ireland Assembly Election ;

MAY 9 : Philippine Presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives elections ;

“NO LATER THAN MAY 21” (probably) : Australian federal election ;

c. JULY 2022 : Presidential election in India (cf Governor General of Canada, Australia etc) ; 2022 elections in India (“largest democracy in the world today”) will also include by-elections to the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament, elections to the Rajya Sabha or upper house, and elections to the state legislative assemblies of seven Indian states ;

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who might become president again in 2022 election.

“DUE 9 AUG 2022” : Voters in Kenya will elect the President, members of the National Assembly and Senate, county governors, and members of 47 county assemblies ;

SEPTEMBER 11 : Swedish general election ;

OCTOBER 2 : General election in Brazil (where the current Trumpian president may finally be succeeded by the former left-wing holder of that office, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva!).

Worrying about democracy in your own country

Some quibbles might be raised about the stable democratic bona fides of several of the 12 countries noted here. Yet the continuing current lack of agreement over just who won the 2020 election in Democracy in America may also make we North Americans somewhat more tolerant about the failings of Democracies in Other Parts of the World.

It may be as well that the future of democracy in the global village in the 21st century will have as much or even a little more to do with what happens to the world’s largest democracy in India over the next few years, under the aggressive enough Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, than it has to do with what happens in the USA between now and the next presidential election in 2024.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, up for (possible) re-election in 2022, gets his COVID vaccine booster shot on December 21, 2021.

I would also personally agree that there are reasons to wonder about just how well democracy is working nowadays in my own country of Canada, just north of the historic American Republic.

As already alluded to elsewhere on this site recently, in the upcoming June 2, 2022 provincial election in Canada’s most populous provincial democracy the latest polling suggests Doug Ford’s Ontario PCs could win at least a bare majority government with as little as 36% of the province-wide popular vote!

For somewhat different but still potent reasons, this does seem almost as anti-democratic as many trends now haunting the giant elephant next door.

And finally, btw, according to the Angus Reid polling organization, 27% of Conservatives in Canada also believe Donald Trump “definitely or probably won” the last US election …

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