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Election Watch

Calton Hill and Edinburgh city scenic view at sunset Beautiful view of Edinburgh at sunset Edinbourgh United Kingdom.

IMAGO/Offenberg

Good news for Britain’s Labour Party: Anew poll from YouGov shows that, for the first time in nearly a decade, the party leads in Scotland, a result that can bolster its already-high odds of winning the UK’s next general election, probably this fall.

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak prepares to speak to employees of a bus depot during the launch of the local election campaign in Heanor, Britain, March 22, 2024.

Darren Staples/Pool via REUTERS

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday that he will call a national election in the second half of this year. The election will be Sunak’s first, and likely last, contest as the country’s premier.

The candidates: Since Brexit, the UK has shuffled through a revolving door of Conservative leaders (Sunak came to power after Liz Truss’s reign ended a week after she replaced Boris Johnson over his 2022 “Partygate” scandal”). Sunak has tried to turn voters' attention to the migrant crisis but has failed to deliver on his promise to stop small boats of migrants arriving on the south coast of England. His main opposition is Keir Starmer of the Labour Party.

Where things stand: Weakened from Brexit, buried under high inflation, and strained by a cost of living crisis, suffice to say that morale is low among Brits. And Sunak will likely pay the cost.

Conservatives are polling terribly, trailing behind Labour 22% to 44%. From those numbers, it's no surprise that Starmer is hounding Sunak to call for elections now, but Sunak will try to hold off for as long as possible in the hopes that the political tides turn.

Supporters with a placard 'April 10 is the Yoon Suk Yeol government, Judgment Day.' attend the Democratic Party of Korea's general election campaign rally at Yongsan Station Square in Seoul, South Korea, April 9, 2024.

Matrix Images / Lee Kitae via Reuters Connect

South Koreans went to the polls today for key legislative elections amid a bitterly polarized environment and a sluggish economy, with early exit polls showing a likely landslide for the opposition Democratic Party. President Yoon Suk Yeol has been stymied by DP control of the unicameral legislature throughout the first two years of his presidency, and his People Power Party was facing daunting odds heading into today.

Cost of living is top of mind. Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung turned the humble green onions that feature in so many Korean dishes into a political weapon after Yoon made remarks on their price that were perceived as being out of touch. Meanwhile, Yoon’s wife, Kim Keon-hee, has been at the center of a luxury gift scandal, which has hardly helped with perceptions of aloofness.

That said, Lee faces graft allegations of his own and is no less of a controversial figure. In fact, he was lucky to survive an attempted assassination in January, when he was stabbed in the neck at a campaign rally. Political violence is not unheard of in South Korea, but the incident underlines the depth of the country’s political divisions.

“Because of the political polarization, South Koreans end up deciding elections based on things like whether the first lady received a $2,000 handbag and didn't report it,” says Eurasia Group senior analyst Jeremy Chan. “It speaks to the underlying dynamic in South Korea, where folks are deciding on the trivial stuff because the political parties can't deal with the big issues.”

And there are BIG issues on South Korea’s plate: The country is getting old and having very few babies, economic growth is weak and unlikely to improve, and, of course, North Korea’s nuclear weapons threaten total annihilation.

Chan expects Yoon to continue focusing on foreign policy if exit polls hold true, including “doubling down on the rapprochement with Japan, broadening relations with Europe, with ASEAN, and with the United States, while moving further away from China and North Korea, because that's where he can exert influence without the National Assembly.”

Official results are expected early Thursday.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaking at the presidential office on TV at Seoul Railroad Station in Seoul. April 1, 2024

Kim Jae-Hwan / SOPA Images via Reuters

All 300 seats in South Korea's unicameral legislature will be up for grabs in the April 10 election, offering President Yoon Suk-yeol the opportunity to kickstart his agenda if his conservative People Power Party, or PPP, can gain control of the National Assembly. The center-left Democratic Party of Korea, aka DP, currently holds a majority of the seats in the chamber and has frustrated Yoon’s efforts to advance business-friendly policies since he took office in 2022.

Nonetheless, the PPP faces long odds in flipping the chamber, according to Eurasia Group expert Jeremy Chan. We asked him to explain.

Why the poor prospects for the PPP?

The conservative party would need to gain roughly three dozen seats to recapture the National Assembly, a tall order that will be made even more challenging by Yoon’s low approval rating, which hovers below 40%. While his name will not appear on the ballot, the election is widely seen as a referendum on Yoon’s administration.

For Yoon, failing to recapture the National Assembly would effectively render him a lame duck with more than half of his term in office remaining. It would put his agenda of cuts to taxes and government spending on life support and make him the first Korean president in decades to serve an entire five-year term without ever exerting control over the legislature. Attention would promptly shift to the race to succeed Yoon in the 2027 presidential election.

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Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko listens to the presidential candidate he is backing in the March 24 election, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, as they hold a joint press conference a day after they were released from prison, in Dakar, Senegal March 15, 2024.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Newly inaugurated Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, in his first act in office, appointed his mentor Ousmane Sonko as prime minister on Wednesday. The popular, reform-oriented Sonko will be the driving force behind big changes. Case in point: Faye's manifesto proposed an audit of the oil, gas, and mining sectors, which could bring more cash from natural resource extraction into Dakar’s coffers.

Sonko was banned from running for president in the most recent elections, but Faye subbed in, even using the slogan “Diomaye is Sonko.” Sonko is now calling the shots, says Eurasia Group analyst Tochi Eni-Kalu.

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2024 Third Party Candidates

Jess Frampton

I’ll say it again and again: The 2024 presidential election will be a very close race.

Head-to-head national polling averages currently have President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump – the two major parties’ presumptive nominees – in a statistical dead heat. Some averages show Trump with a slight lead, but one that lies within most polls’ margins of error.

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FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at one of his properties after attending a hearing in his criminal court case on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Bible salesman and former US President Donald Trump on Monday posted a $175 million bond in his New York civil fraud case, wriggling himself out of a tricky financial situation — for now, at least.

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