Is the “free and democratic society” riding on the outcome of more than 60 elections around the global village in 2024?

Jan 5th, 2024 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Seward, Homage to Tom Thomson. 2024.

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO . FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2024. The US elections on November 5, 2024 are almost certainly the most interesting and fateful events in the new year now at hand.

As yet another sign of the post-American global village before us, however, no less than Time magazine has explained that : “Globally, more voters than ever in history will head to the polls as at least 64 countries (plus the European Union) — representing a combined population of about 49% of the people in the world” — are also “meant to hold national elections” in 2024 — “the results of which, for many, will prove consequential for years to come.”

US (and other) concerns about the prospects of a second Donald Trump administration (an oxymoron in its own right) have analogues elsewhere as well. As Ishaan Tharoor has recently urged in The Washington Post : “The outcomes of pivotal elections in the United States — the world’s oldest democracy — and India — the world’s largest — may underscore a deepening public appetite for norm-bending strongman rule. In their shadow, elections from Mexico to the European Union to Bangladesh may each offer their own showcase of the growing traction of nationalist, authoritarian politics.”

National elections around the world in 2024!

Peter Loewen has similarly urged in the Toronto Star : “With elections in the US and India, 2024 could be the most important year in the history of democracy … India and the United States represent nearly one fifth of the global population. Elections in both countries will be a fundamental test of democratic resilience and character that will have major consequences for global politics.”

Almost at the very end of 2023 Doug Saunders urged some parallel thoughts in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail : “Half the world is holding elections in 2024. Democracy’s future is riding on the outcome … Billions of adults go to the polls next year, including in nations where democracy is in poor health. Will they slip further into illiberalism, or start climbing to freedom?”

Michael Seward, A Man and His Shadow. 2023. Acrylic. 30” x 36”

As just a taste of the complex global village politics that lie ahead, here is a sample of 15 more or less key (or at least interesting) elections, arranged chronologically :

(1) Elections this weekend in Bangladesh (Sunday, January7) will likely extend the regime of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who some argue has already given the country what amounts to a one-party state.

(2) Elections in Taiwan on Saturday, January 13 will likely see a victory for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party — less friendly toward Beijing than the opposition Kuomintang.

(3) A general election in the world’s fifth most populous country of Pakistan is scheduled for February 8. But the 2022 ouster and later arrest of populist Prime Minister Imran Khan is casting the event in a dark light.

Voters of the global village 2024

(4) Elections in Indonesia (the world’s fourth most populous country) on February 14 “could see term-limited outgoing presidents extend their influence through friendly successors, much to the chagrin of rival political elites.”

(5) Concerns abound that a March 10 election in Portugal could bring far right politicians into office.

(6) Vladimir Putin will run again for Russian president on March 17. Virtually no one expects he will lose (and his main opponent is already in a prison north of the Arctic Circle!).

(7) Presidential elections are scheduled for the end of March in Ukraine. But “the ongoing emergency imposed by Russia’s invasion may see President Volodymyr Zelensky postpone the vote.”

(8) The Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) — one of the current most “free and fair” democracies in Asia or anywhere else — will hold National Assembly elections on April 10.

(9) Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has not yet set an exact date for national elections, expected to be held in April and May. His “Hindu nationalists are likely to deepen their stranglehold on power.” And a “fresh five-year term for Modi will further drift the Indian republic away from the pluralist and secular ethos of its founding.”

2024, a worldwide election year. EU and National elections are scheduled or expected in at least 64 Countries.

(10) Iceland will hold a presidential election June 1 — an event that could hold some particular interest for Canadians (and Australians) who want to leave the obsolete British monarchy behind.

(11) Mexico will hold a general election on June 2 — and (as in Indonesia) it “could see term-limited outgoing presidents extend their influence through friendly successors, much to the chagrin of rival political elites.”

(12) The European Union will hold parliamentary elections June 6–9. And “the political mainstream, fueled by public angst over migration and stagnating economies, may see” the “crowning moment” of new far-right politicians.

(13) South Africa’s 2024 elections have not yet been scheduled. But they must be held within 90 days of the end of the term of the current Parliament, in mid May 2024. This would seem to place them sometime in June or July, or even all the way to mid August.

(14) A general election in the United Kingdom “must be held no later than 28 January 2025.” But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has very recently suggested that it will take place “in second half of year” 2024. And this is one case where “floundering Conservatives” under PM Sunak are widely expected to lose to the “opposition Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, a political moderate.”

(15) The US elections that the rest of the world (or at least part of it) is so worried about will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2024. Whether a Keir Starmer Labour victory in the United Kingdom not long before this might in some small degree help the Joe Biden Democrats in the vaster Anglo America across the sea (or anglophone in any case, like Mr. Sunak) is one interesting question. There are of course many others.

Meanwhile, as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s father might have said, welcome to 2024.

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