Elections around the world to watch in 2019
2019 is a big election year globally. As Americans prepare for the 2020 presidential election, many of their neighbors are heading to the polls this year. In fact, democracy will influence 3.28 billion people in 62 countries in 2019. More than 40% of the world will elect leaders this year, and the results may have a major impact on the way the world works going forward.
Some major elections to watch include those in India and the European Union, primarily because of their reach. In other words, more than 1.85 billion people will be directly affected by these elections. It's interesting to note that the 2019 elections are following certain trends. In Latin America and Western Europe, there is a resurgence of populism, and fragmented coalitions are forming, pushing once-unshakable blocs out of power.
Will these trends lead to more corruption, less corruption, or simply a more consolidated form of government depravity? Will these elections lead to greater economic and political stability or more global disarray? It's wise for Americans to take note of what's happening around the world, as results from this year's elections may signal things to come in 2020.
Read on to find out which elections around the world you should keep an eye on in 2019.
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Ukrainian presidential election, March 31 and April 21
The 2019 presidential election for Ukraine comes down to two main candidates: incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, running on a nationalist slogan of “Army! Language! Faith! We are Ukraine!” and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Former defense minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko is a long-shot candidate who is hoping to unite several smaller political parties. Russia's influence looms large over this election, with military interference in November leading to Ukraine establishing a body to prevent Russian meddling with the election results.
RESULT: The March 31 election resulted in no clear majority winner. A second round of voting is slated for April 21, 2019.
RESULT: The second round of elections on April 21 saw incumbent President Poroshenko face off against Volodymyr Zelensky: Zelensky gained 73.22% of the vote, winning the election.
North Macedonia presidential election, April 21 and May 5
Two-term President Gjorge Ivanov's successor will be chosen in this election that comes after the 2018 referendum to change the name of this former Yugoslav republic. Many are hopeful that political and ethnic strife will be put to rest by talks of Macedonia's accession into the European Union.
UPDATE: Macedonia's presidential election has been confirmed for April 21.
RESULT: Voter turnout in the first round was about 40%, the lowest since 1991 (when the country became independent). Stevo Pendarovski won 42.85% of the vote; Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova won 42.24% of the vote; and Blerim Reka won 11%. Round two of voting is set for May 5.
RESULT: Stevo Pendarovski won the North Macedonian presidency in the second round, beating Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova.
Israel legislative election, April 9
It should come as no surprise to anyone following American and Israeli politics that the U.S. is intervening in the Israeli election. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has close ties to Donald Trump, who moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year. Netanyahu himself is a polarizing figure, even in an era when Israel's politics are moving further right. The government is delicately balanced at this time, with Netanyahu's right-wing party, Likud, holding just 30 of 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel's governing body. The country also narrowly avoided having to go to an early election.
RESULT: The Likud and Kahol Lavan (led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid) parties each nabbed 35 seats in the legislative election while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term. United Torah Judaism secured eight seats, while the rest of Israel's parties kept the same number of seats: Shas (eight), Hadash-Ta'al (six), Labor (six), Yisrael Beiteinu (five), Union of Right-Wing Parties (five), Meretz (four), Balad-United Arab List (four), and Kulanu (four).
Finland general election, April 14
Some major issues in the upcoming Finnish election include the government's unfinished reforms to health and social care (“sote”), climate change, and immigration, including a series of sexual abuse cases in which suspects were asylum-seekers or immigrants. The government is currently controlled by the Centre Party, along with the National Coalition Party and the Blue Reform Party, with Juha Sipila as prime minister. However, this is a small majority at 104 seats of 200, as the minimum seats needed to control the government is 101. The Social Democrats are currently leading the polls and hope to emerge victoriously; they would likely form a coalition with the Green Party and the Left Alliance.
RESULT: The Social Democratic Party winning with 17.7% of the votes in a neck-and-neck race: The right-wing Finns Party secured 17.5% of the vote, the National Coalition Party took 17%, and the Center Party held 13.8% of the vote, according to CNN affiliate Italehti.
India general election, April or May
Starting April 11, the most important Indian election in decades will take place; this includes and primarily features Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Like a certain populist American leader, Modi promised five years ago to create more jobs for Indians and to “make India great again,” but his record is shaky at best. He faces opposition from Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party—and multiple others: In fact, 2014's election saw more than 460 political parties. In 2014 over 550 million of the more than 830 million people who were eligible voted; this year 900 million Indians will be eligible to vote. This seven-stage election is spread out over several weeks, with the world watching as its largest democracy makes its decision.
UPDATE: The 2019 Indian general election is underway and slated to end May 19, resulting in the 17th Lok Sabha. Results will be announced May 23—the same day votes are counted. The election has already stirred multiple counts of violence, including the murder of a poll official in Orissa (one of 13 states or union territories voting for a new parliament) just hours before the second phase of voting began April 18.
RESULT: On May 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared his victory to a second term.
Indonesia presidential election, April 17
Incumbent Indonesian President Joko Widodo is pitted against former Lt. General Prabowo Subianto, whom he previously defeated in the 2014 vote. This election is significant as it takes place in one of the world's youngest—and third-largest—democracies. It will be interesting to see how Widodo's running mate, a conservative Muslim cleric accused of promoting intolerance of minority groups, plays out against Subianto's bonds with Islamist groups that hold sway over public opinion.
RESULT: Indonesia's sitting President Joko Widodo announced April 18 that he won re-election with a majority 54% of votes, according to preliminary results. Indonesia's General Elections Commission is legally bound to release official election results by May 22.
South Africa general election, May 8
Record-high unemployment and allegations of corruption are two of the major issues at play in the South African election in 2019, set for May 8. The African National Congress (ANC), which currently holds power (and has since 1994) and the party of Nelson Mandela, recently suffered a loss when former President Jacob Zuma resigned in February 2018. Recent polls suggest the ANC could garner 60% of votes, but they face opposition from parties who made strides in 2016 local elections.
RESULT: Though full results are expected to be announced on May 11, as of May 10, there were more than 90% of district results reported, with 57% of the ballot going to the ANC, 21% going to the Democratic Alliance, and 10% going to the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Lithuania presidential election, May 12
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis will run for president in the May election; current President Dalia Grybauskaite will not be eligible to run as she has served the two-term maximum allowable by the country's constitution. Skvernelis will probably be backed by the center-left Farmers and Green Union, and will face opposition from an independent candidate, Gitanas Nauseda, and Ingrida Simonyte, representing the Homeland Union-Conservative Christian Democrats.
UPDATE: After Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis failed to qualify for round two of the presidential election, he announced he will resign on July 12. "The failure to get into the second round is an assessment of me as a politician," he told reporters.
Philippines general election, May 13
The general election in the Philippines is significant because of its large, growing population. It is the 12th most populated country in the world, with nearly 105 million people. Of those, there are more than 61 million eligible and registered to vote. This election, which will allow Filipinos to choose half of the country's Senate (12 seats), along with 300 seats in the House of Representatives, and thousands more local posts, has been a contentious one with President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly anti-drug campaign being the focus.
RESULT: The unofficial result as of May 14 (with more than 95% of the vote counted) is that President Duterte's allies have won the 12 Senate seats that were up for grabs. Voter intimidation and violence—including a shooting at one voting area—was reported by police. In the weeks leading up to voting day, police also reported 20 killed and 24 injured in election-related attacks, according to The New York Times.
Australia federal elections, May
Incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party is up against Bill Shorten of the Labor Party as Shorten attempts to become the seventh Australian PM so far this century. Immigration, indigenous issues, and climate change are big points of contention for the two candidates, especially as the Liberals opted out of the recent UN migration pact.
RESULT: Despite the fact that Bill Shorten was forecasted by bookmakers to win, Scott Morrison's Liberal Party-led coalition shocked the country by being re-elected.2018 All rights reserved.