The year 2019 will see important and consequential elections. Some of those might come as a surprise. Rumours already abound that some parliamentary systems might call snap elections. But many elections are already on the calendar. Here are 5 to watch.
1. Ukrainian Presidential Election (March 31)
The two leading contenders are familiar faces: incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who finished second in 2014. Poroshenko is taking a nationalist line with slogans like “Army! Language! Faith! We are Ukraine.” Tymoshenko proposes turning Ukraine into a parliamentary republic. A long-shot candidate is Anatoliy Hrytsenko, a former defence minister. He hopes to unify several small opposition parties. Looming over the election is Russia. Ukraine has established a body to identify and prevent Russian interference.
2. Indian Parliamentary Election (April-May)
The incumbent premier, Narendra Modi, hopes to recapture his magic of 2014 elections. But his popularity has waned among his core voting blocs, like farmers, as he failed to deliver on his promises. Moreover, the BJP recently lost 3 state elections in which the big winner was the Congress which hopes that 2019 will mark its comeback election on the national level. The party’s leader, Rahul Gandhi is building alliances with regional parties with an eye toward building a coalition government.
3. Indonesian Presidential Election (April 17)
The upcoming presidential election in Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, looks a lot like the 2014 vote. Current President Joko Widodo remains popular, even though he has failed to deliver on many of his promises to improve governance and protect human rights. His rival Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto has formed strong bonds with Islamist groups that hold considerable sway over public opinion. Appeals to sectarianism and cries of “fake news” will likely dominate the headlines as the election nears.
4. Afghanistan Presidential Election (April 20)
Although Taliban killed more than 130 people during parliamentary elections in October 2018, President Ashraf Ghani called these polls a “historic success.” The Taliban effectively control as much as 70 percent of Afghanistan, even with 14,000 US troops in the country. The Trump administration is engaged in peace talks and President Ghani is also willing to accept the Taliban as a political force. But with their advances on the ground, Taliban leaders may prefer to wait the United States out.
5. European Parliament Election (May 23-26)
The EU faces a long list of problems: a growing rift with the United States; rising illiberalism in central Europe; an increasing possibility of a “hard Brexit”; mounting political unrest in France; and declining enthusiasm to rejuvenate EU institutions. All these trends could tip the outcome of the European Parliament elections. Some 500 million EU citizens are eligible to vote. Since the United Kingdom is leaving the EU in March, the EP will have fewer seats in 2019 – 705 instead of 751.