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2024: The year of elections

2024: The year of elections
Annie Gugliotta

Buckle up for the most intense year of democracy the world has ever seen.

With at least 65 countries holding elections, 4.2 billion people – about half of the world's adult population – will have the chance to vote in 2024. Saying the world could shift on its axis this year is an understatement.

We break down the most consequential elections in 2024 below:

Bangladesh / Finland / Ghana / India / Indonesia / Iran / Jordan / Lithuania / Mexico / Mozambique / Namibia / Pakistan / Panama / Romania / Russia / Rwanda / Senegal / Solomon Islands / Somaliland / South Africa / South Korea / South Sudan / Taiwan / Tunisia / United Kingdom / United States / Uruguay / Venezuela / European Union Parliament

Plus, couple big "maybes": Israel and Ukraine


The small South Asian nation’s young democracy isn’t looking its healthiest ahead of Sunday’s vote, which the main opposition party is boycotting. Incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been accused of exercising increasingly autocratic power since she returned to office in 2008, including jailing her primary rival Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.

The candidates: Hasina is by far the front-runner thanks to her electoral shenanigans and the opposition boycott, meaning she is all but certain to retain her position and majority in the legislature. Ghulam Muhammed Quader, a center-right candidate from outside both of the main two coalitions doesn’t look like much of a threat: During the last election in 2018, his party took just 5% of the vote to Hasina’s 75%.

Where things stand: Hasina will likely stay in power, so the key metric to gauge her mandate is turnout. Bangladesh historically has high poll attendance, near 75% for all elections since 1996, except for 2014, when, under similarly controversial circumstances, fewer than 40% of eligible voters cast a ballot.


Voters in Finland will choose their new president on Sunday. The president controls military and security policy – a significant position since Finland joined NATO last year in response to its neighbor Russia invading Ukraine.

The candidates: The front-runner is center-right candidate Alexander Stubb. Stubb, who is viewed as a pro-European globalist, previously served as prime minister and foreign minister and as a member of the European Parliament. He is running against center-left Pekka Haavisto, a Green League member and former United Nations diplomat, who would be the country’s first openly gay president if elected.

During their campaigns, both candidates veered toward the political middle and were vocal supporters of Ukraine and of closing the border with Russia after Finland observed an influx of migrants entering through its eastern border without visas in 2023.

Where things stand: Stubb narrowly won the first round of voting in January and is leading Haavisto by at least 6 points in the polls. The results are expected to come in shortly after polls close on Sunday.


Long hailed as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, Ghana will hold elections in December to elect a successor to President Nana Akufo-Addo, who steps down due to term limits. Ghanaians will go to the polls as their country continues to grind through a deep economic crisis marked by high inflation (20%) and crushing debt. Among other things, a $3 billion IMF bailout hangs in the balance.

Representing the ruling New Patriotic Party is current vice president Mahamadu Bawumia, a former economist who has pledged to streamline the government, simplify the tax regime, and boost gold production.

The opposition National Democratic Congress is going with former President John Mahama, who has lost his last two runs for the presidency but is looking to capitalize on frustration with the current government. He has proposed a “24-hour economy” in which the country’s businesses and labor force are divided into shifts to facilitate non-stop output.

The mystery (un)masked man: there is also businessman Nana Kwame Bediako, a scrap metal and nightclub tycoon who caused a stir with a billboard campaign featuring a masked man. Bediako, famous among other things for a run-in with the authorities over his move to import pet tigers, has crafted a maverick anti-establishment message that may resonate, but probably not enough to carry him to the presidency.


In the world’s largest Democracy, all signs are that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, will secure a clear majority in general elections this summer, a win that will ensure a comfortable third term for Modi.

Despite a Supreme Court ruling limiting anonymous campaign donations – a ruling that will affect future campaigns – Modi’s BJP party is leading in fundraising and the polls. Modi’s popularity remains strong due to his strong-man image and commitment to India rising in global prominence.

But he is not without enemies. Around 10,000 farmers have been protesting Modi’s policies, and they form a powerful voting bloc that the BJP will have to appease before polls open.

Last year, more than two dozen regional parties came together in an attempt to take down the BJP, but ideological differences and personality clashes are causing the opposition coalition to crack during these crucial months ahead of the election.


Iran is set to hold elections on March 1, during which voters in the Islamic Republic will cast their ballots for members of the country’s parliament as well as the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body that will select the next supreme leader when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 84, dies.

There are 290 seats up for grabs with 15,200 candidates competing. Each must be approved by the 12-member Guardian Council to run, and only a few dozen reformists have reportedly gotten permission thanks to the hardline government. This year’s elections will be the first to occur in Iran since monthslong mass protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in 2022. Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory headscarf law. The demonstrations over Amini’s death led to a brutal government crackdown, prompting global condemnation.


The world’s third largest democracy will organize the largest single-day polls in 2024 on Valentine’s Day as candidates jostle over the legacy of outgoing President Joko Widodo (aka Jokowi), relations with China, and how the largest Muslim country in the world approaches the war in Gaza.

The candidates: The immensely popular Jokowi is term-limited, but his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is running for vice president alongside current defense minister Prabowo Subianto.

They are running about 20 percentage points ahead of their main rivals with about 46.7% of voters supporting them pre-election. Ganjar Pranowo, governor of densely populated Central Java, is in second place with about 24% of the vote, and independent candidate Anies Baswedan is close behind at 21%.

Where things stand: There isn’t much daylight between the candidates on policy, as each attempts to outdo the others in their promises to continue Jokowi’s successful economic policies, continue balancing friendly relations with both Beijing and Washington and support Palestinians amid the conflict in Gaza.

Should no candidate attain an outright majority of the votes next month, a second round will be held in June.


The kingdom of Jordan is due to hold quadrennial elections late this year to the lower house, the only elected body in what is otherwise a nearly autocratic monarchy.

These elections, however, are not considered particularly free or fair, with consistent repression of free speech and assembly, high hurdles for parties to register, and a social context in which tribal affiliations or business connections matter more than political programs in determining who gets votes. Less than 10% of seats in the 2020 election went to organized parties, the rest went to independents. Turnout, meanwhile, has historically been weak, hovering around 30-35% at best.

Part of the issue is that while King Abdullah is keen to present the image of a modernizing country that cautiously embraces democratic institutions as a way to bolster the legitimacy of the government, he is also scared of creating space for radical forces — in particular Islamist groups which are popular in society — to exploit elections to destabilize the kingdom.

One of the biggest questions is, in fact, whether the election will be held at all. The increased social volatility stemming from the Gaza war — Jordan is home to the world's largest Palestinian diaspora — has led to some calls to postpone the vote for security reasons.


In May, the largest of the three Baltic states will hold a presidential election in May. The clear frontrunner is incumbent Nauseda Giranas, a former economist elected in 2019.

The president controls Lithuania’s foreign policy, which under Gitanas has shown strong support for Ukraine as well as for dissidents fleeing the autocracy of Alexander Lukashenko in neighboring Belarus.

But Gitanas 30% support wouldn’t be enough to win in the first round, meaning he’ll likely face a runoff challenge from one of the two other main candidates: right-wing lawyer Christian Vegele who is polling at 16% on a populist and socially conservative platform targeting LGBTQ rights in particular, and the center-right Ingrida Šimonytė, currently Prime Minister, who polls just behind him.

A light roast: Gitanas is expected to win in either scenario, but he did get dinged by the electoral authorities recently for offering a coffee date on social media as a way to boost signatures for his candidacy.

In October, Lithuania will hold parliamentary elections. There, the opposition Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP) is looking to build on its success in municipal elections last year to take down the current center-right coalition government, a three party coalition led by the Homeland Union/Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD). The race promises to be very tight: the Social Democrats are currently polling first with 23% support, with the TS-LKD in second at 14%. But the TS-LKD’s coalition partners are at a combined 12%.


Rather than watching a rerun of two geriatric white men in the US, focus on Mexico, where the victor is expected to be a woman for the first time in Mexican history.

The candidates: Claudia Sheinbaum, the progressive mayor of Mexico City, has been positioned by current President Andrés Manuel López “AMLO” Obrador to carry on the torch for the Morena Party. On the other side, former senator Xóchitl Gálvez, is energizing the opposition with her rags-to-riches story.

The two will duke it out to show voters they can jumpstart the economy, provide more social services, and take on the gangs and cartels that control nearly half of the country.

Where things stand: Right now, Sheinbaum is the decisive front-runner. But following in the incumbent president’s footsteps could be treacherous. AMLO is passing on a strong base of support to Sheinbaum, but also criticism for his administration militarizing the police and eroding democratic institutions. Sheinbaum’s major challenge will be articulating where she stands on AMLO’s legacy before the election on June 2.


Can trust be restored in Mozambique’s government? That’s the big question looming over the country as it heads into its general election on Oct. 9, 2024.

Who’s running? Expect another faceoff between the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front, aka Frelimo, and the opposition Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo. President Filipe Nyusi is facing term-limit restrictions, and Frelimo has yet to choose a candidate to succeed him.

What to watch: Observers fear a violent election after municipal elections last October saw security services clash with Renamo supporters and journalists, internet shutdowns, and allegations of vote-tampering in what was declared a near-total victory for Frelimo.


Namibian politics faced some upheaval in early February with the death of President Hage Geingob, the country’s third president since it gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Nangolo Mbumba was named interim president following Geingob’s death and is expected to stay in power through November, when the southwest African nation holds a general election. Mbumba has said he will not run.

Women will feature strongly. Three of the six presidential contenders expected to do the best in the November matchup are women.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who has stepped up to fill Mbumba’s empty seat as vice president, will be the presidential nominee for the South West Africa People's Organisation party. SWAPO has never lost an election, but its support has been declining.

If that trend continues, the leading candidate is likely to be Panduleni Itula, from the Independent Patriots for Change party, who won 30% in the last election in 2019. That’s the best the opposition has ever done.

Whoever wins, Namibia’s vote is expected to reflect the country’s healthy multiparty democracy, and its press and assembly freedoms.


Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: In Pakistan, it’s still the military that calls the shots. That said, Pakistan’s election (now set for Feb. 8) promises plenty of drama – and potential unrest.

Voters will fill all 342 seats in the lower House of Parliament, most of which are in single-member constituencies. The remaining seats are awarded through a proportional, party-based allocation system. Critics charge that the military has done a bit of gerrymandering to shape the results.

The candidates: The country’s most popular politician, former Prime Minister Imran Khan, has pushed back against attempts to keep him and his PTI party off the ballot. But on Dec. 30, Pakistan’s election body ruled that Khan remains banned from politics and can’t run. Like many of his predecessors, Khan has spent time in power and then in jail, but he remains popular enough to galvanize support against military manipulation of the outcome.

Also in the running is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also once imprisoned for corruption, who has returned to the country after four years of exile in the UK. Sharif has also been banned from politics, but he now appears to have the backing of the same military that ousted him from power in 1999.

Finally, there is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, representative of yet another political dynasty with more than its share of triumph, turmoil, and tragedy.

Where things stand: If the military allows this vote to take place, Sharif and his party are likely to win. The next question is how Khan and his supporters respond, perhaps in the streets.


Panama will elect a president and all 71 legislature seats on May 5. The former president and money laundering convict, Ricardo Marinelli, is leading a crowded field of candidates.

Martinelli is appealing against his 11-year prison sentence. Should he lose, he will be barred from running for office, which would pit Martín Torrijos, another former president, against Ricardo Lombana, who leads a new centrist political movement focused on austerity and anti-corruption.

The race is also being shaped by protests over a contract signed between a Canadian mining company and the government, that could take away 5% of Panama’s GDP.

Protesters are fighting for the mining money to stay in Panama. The Supreme Court has ruled the contract unconstitutional, but the government worries renigging on the deal could hurt foreign investment in the future.

Panama’s next president must address protesters’ myriad demands, starting with improving the quality of public services and government transparency. The leading candidates have all supported the Supreme Court’s ruling and will try to ride widespread anger against the contract and the government to win in May.


Will the far right make it into power? That’s the big question as Romania heads into parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2024.

On the parliamentary side of things, the current odd-bedfellow coalition of Social Democrats and the center-right Liberals is facing a challenge from the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians, a formerly little-known far-right party that has surged recently on a platform combining anti-establishment and anti-corruption messages – popular in a country rife with graft – as well as anti-vaccine, and socially conservative values planks. The Social Democrats are currently polling at 30%, with the AUR and the Liberals at 19% apiece, making it likely that the current coalition will continue – but the possibility of AUR making it into government for the first time, in coalition with either the Social Democrats or the Liberals, can’t be written off entirely.

The presidential race is likely to be more of a nail-biter. NATO Deputy General Secretary Mircea Geoană, a seasoned Romanian politician and diplomat who once headed the Social Democrat party, is leading the polls with roughly 25% support.

But current PSD leader, and Prime Minister, Marcel Ciolacu is close behind, clocking just below 20% support. In third place is the far-right lawyer Diana Șoșoacă of the Romanian ultra-nationalist SOS party.


Russia is holding a presidential election on March 17 that will be neither free nor fair.

Vladimir Putin, who has already been in power for over two decades, will be "reelected." Opposition candidates critical of Russia’s war in Ukraine have been barred from running.

While Russia will not see a change in leadership this year, what makes this election different is the fact that voting will be extended to four Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Moscow in 2022 — though Russian forces do not fully occupy these regions. Voting will also occur in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. Ukraine says any Russian presidential election voting in occupied regions will be “null and void.”


Rwanda is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on July 15. President Paul Kagame, who has already been in power for decades, is running for reelection. Rwandans voted to extend presidential term limits in 2015, opening the door for Kagame to stay in power until 2034.

Kagame has effectively ruled over Rwanda since the mid-1990s after his rebel force entered Kigali and ended a genocide. Though Kagame has largely amicable relations with Western governments, he’s also faced allegations of rampant human rights abuses – including cracking down on the free press and suppressing opposition.

Rwanda is also accused of supporting the M23 rebels in an ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.


If there was any hope for a free and fair election in the Sahel this year, Senegal was it. Voters were supposed to head to the polls on Feb. 25, but President Macky Sall called off the election in early February without naming a new date.

What happened? Karim Wade, son of Sall’s predecessor and a political rival, was running for president, but a constitutional court blocked his candidacy, alleging he held dual French and Senegalese citizenship. Wade claims he had renounced his French citizenship, and his party recently launched an investigation into two of the court’s justices. Then, in a masterstroke of political judo, Sall backed the investigation – and used it as an excuse to call off the election.

This comes just a year after Ousmane Sonko, another would-be contender, was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for "corrupting youth" by encouraging the debauchery of an underage massage parlor employee – whom he was simultaneously acquitted of raping and issuing death threats against.

The approved candidate list is short, including Sall’s hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall, and former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck. But because Sonic and Wade are excluded, there’s no clear front-runner.

Protests have broken in response to the postponement, and African leaders and the Economic Community of West African States are pushing Sall to set a new date.

The rub: President Sall stays put extralegally, thrusting the former rock of West African stability into crisis.

Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is expected to call national elections in April, with tensions over the Pacific Island’s ties to China in the spotlight.

History: Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China soon after coming to power in 2019. Later, the strategically located island nation forged a security pact with Beijing that alarmed Washington.

The election is a referendum on China. Sogavare is leading but the opposition figure, United Party's Peter Kenilorea, is campaigning on changing tact. He wants to review the security pact and re-establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan. He has criticized the government for trading control for money from China. China provided a $2.49 million fund to be spent at Sogavare's discretion, with payments made to 39 out of 50 lawmakers.


Somaliland, a self-governing breakaway region of Somalia, is set to hold a delayed presidential election on Nov. 13 at a crucial moment in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea region. Muse Bihi Abdi, the incumbent president who controversially remained in power after his term was set to expire in November 2022, could potentially seek reelection. Some opposition politicians have since said they no longer recognize him as president. It’s unclear who else might run this year.

Though Somaliland faces limitations on the global stage, given its lack of international recognition as an independent state, it’s still been able to foster investment deals with foreign powers like Ethiopia and the UAE. This has raised tensions with Mogadishu and increased the prospect of war between Somalia and Ethiopia — particularly in the wake of a recent deal for Somaliland to offer Addis Ababa port access in exchange for recognizing its independence.

South Sudan

The world’s newest country —South Sudan was founded in 2011 — is set to hold long-delayed general elections in December. But the country’s myriad problems, ranging from political dysfunction and violence to rampant poverty and corruption, have raised serious doubts as to whether a vote will occur.

Nicholas Haysom, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, recently warned that the country is not ready for free and fair elections. President Salva Kiir has indicated he will run for reelection, and is expected to face off against his top rival — First Vice President Riek Machar.

South Africa

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that his country will hold a general election on May 29. Ramaphosa’s party, the African National Congress, is at risk of losing its parliamentary majority after ruling since post-Apartheid elections began in 1994.

The election will be a referendum on the ANC, which has been mired in controversy over record levels of crime, slow economic growth, unemployment, and rolling blackouts. Alongside the election announcement, the ANC bumped up social benefits in an attempt to raise polling numbers.

The ANC’s biggest rival, the Democratic Alliance, is trying to build a coalition of smaller parties to break the ANC's majority. The third biggest party, Economic Freedom Fighters, is not considering joining the opposition coalition and is eating into ANC’s support following its promise to double social benefits if elected.

Right now, opinion polls show ANC approval ratings below 50%. If this translates into votes, it will mean the ANC will have to form the country’s first-ever coalition government to keep Ramaphosa — a political protege of Mandela — as president for a second and final five-year term.

South Korea

The Land of Morning Calm’s midterm elections in April are looking anything but, as the president’s party attempts to narrow – or even overcome – their deficit in the unicameral legislature and get a little more done. President Yoon Seok-yul has seen more than 85% of his administration’s legislative efforts shot down in his first two years in office, given the opposition Democratic Party’s control of the legislature. What’s more, Yoon’s party has become embroiled in multiple scandals – including unusual tiffs over a Dior handbag and the ethnicity of candidate In Yo-han, who was born and raised in South Korea but is Caucasian.

That said, the Democrats’ Lee Jae-myung is hardly free of scandal. He's been on trial for alleged graft for nearly a year. Polls are showing a neck-and-neck race. If the Democrats hold the legislature, expect Yoon to continue focusing on foreign policy, where he has leeway. If the president’s party manages to win a majority, Yoon’s long-stalled domestic priorities could finally see the light of day.


Rather than hire a skywriter to remind Taiwan what’s at stake in their Jan. 13 election, China sent four balloons – spy balloons – to show that China looms large over the autonomous island’s election. Beyond cross-strait relations, kitchen table economic concerns and energy policy are key issues.

The candidates: The election has two major candidates with distinct views on China and the US.

Leading in the opinion polls is Taiwan’s current Vice President Lai Ching-te from the Democratic Progressive Party, who wants to strengthen ties to the US. Although Lai does not support Taiwanese independence, China calls him a “separatist” and has suggested his election could risk war.

China's favorite to win, Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih leads the opposition Kuomintang Party. The KMT is advocating for increasing cross-strait relations, while rejecting China’s “one country, two systems” model (as do most Taiwanese, after seeing what happened in Hong Kong). The KMT is capitalizing on China's threat of war to position itself as the safer bet, even blaming the DPP for Taylor Swift skipping Taiwan on her Eras tour.

Where things stand: Final polls show the DPP with a narrow but consistent lead, leading KMT by between 3 and 11 points. But it's still too soon to call it. Taiwan has a plurality voting system, so whichever candidate receives the most votes will become the president, whether or not they achieve a majority.


Tunisia, once the only Arab Spring success story, is now ruled by President Kais Saied with nearly unchecked authority, intensifying xenophobia, and alleged human rights abuses against migrants.

Over the summer, Tunisia inked a deal with the EU to reduce the flow of migrants through the Mediterranean Sea in exchange for a much-needed $1.1 billion in economic assistance.

The candidates: Saied has thrown the leading opposition figure, Rached Ghannouchi, in prison. The CEO of Tunisia’s national airline, Olfa Hamdi has declared he will run, but will likely join Ghannouchi in prison if he looks like a viable challenger to Saied’s power. If not, his candidacy will be an added layer of authenticity to the otherwise well-choreographed charade of an election expected sometime in the fall.

Where things stand: While Saied’s consolidation of power makes it likely he remains in power, his anti-democratic moves have provoked backlash and protests, especially from young Tunisians. In response, Saied is spurring nationalist sentiment through xenophobic “Great Replacement Theory”-esque rhetoric.

Tunisian authorities are accused of escalating violence against sub-Saharan African migrants, while the EU gives the country an economic lifeline for keeping them away from Europe’s shores.

United Kingdom

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.

United States

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the US is due for a presidential election in November. While we are still in the midst of the Republican primary race, Donald Trump is the GOP’s front-runner and is expected to face off against President Joe Biden.

The candidates: On the Republican side, two weeks ahead of the first primary, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are battling for a distant second place behind Trump. Meanwhile, Trump is lightly campaigning while facing a litany of legal troubles, including 91 felony counts, two of which – at least for the moment – bar him from primary ballots in Colorado and Maine.

On the Democrats side, incumbent President Joe Biden will seek a second term. At 81, his age, as well as high prices and the situation in the Middle East, are hurting his popularity.

Where things stand: With the election 11 months away, the number of moving parts makes prediction a fool's errand. All that’s sure is that everything from the trajectory of US foreign policy to faith in American institutions will be on the ballot in November.


In late October, Uruguay will hold a general election for president and both houses of congress. The small social democracy’s 3.5 million people enjoy Latin America’s strongest institutions, highest per capita GDP, lowest poverty rate, and greenest energy mix, but have also recently seen a major crime wave, big corruption scandals, and pressing questions about the sustainability of the famously generous social safety net.

Polls currently show that the left-wing Frente Amplio party, which held power from 2005-2020, with 34% support, while the center right Partido Nacional party of current president Luis Lacalle Pou trails with 22%.

Among the leading presidential candidates are moderate leftist Yamandú Orsi representing Frente Amplio, who serves as mayor of the region next to the capital of Montevideo and has won the endorsement of the famously ascetic leftist former president José “Pepe” Mujica; challenging him within the party is the progressive, feminist mayor of Montevideo, Carolina Cosse.

The Frente Nacional party’s continuity candidate is Álvaro Delgado, who served as right hand man to current president Luis Lacalle Pou and who has pushed for greater trade liberalization and technology investment. Also angling from the right is Laura Raffo, an economist who brings a “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” message to the field.


Socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro has ruled for a decade, and it has not been a great one. The oil-rich country has suffered severe political crises, an economic collapse, mass emigration, and “maximum pressure” sanctions from the US. But the wily Maduro has hung on, and is eyeing re-election in 2024 (date tbd).

The candidates: Maduro, of course. And his likely opponent will be former opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado, who won a unified opposition primary last fall.

Where things stand: The US has recently eased oil sanctions on Caracas in exchange for vague promises that the vote will be “free and fair,” but it’s hard to see the still-unpopular Maduro taking his finger off the scales entirely. That sets up a dicey dilemma: If he rigs the vote again, he risks a snapback of sanctions and a fresh bout of popular anger. But if he keeps it clean, he could lose power to a re-energized opposition.

European Union Parliament

It wouldn’t be the year of the election if the European Union didn’t raise the stakes and hold a supranational election across 27 member countries – the first since the UK left the bloc and Ukraine began membership discussions.

The EU Parliament has limited powers, but it can obstruct budgets, meaning this election could influence the fate of EU-wide projects like the green energy transition and Ukraine funding. The body will also approve the next European Commission president, with current leader Ursula von der Leyen of Germany set to run again.

The candidates: Between June 6 and 9, 720 representatives will be elected for five-year terms. The number of representatives per country is based on population, with Germany at the top with 96 and Cyprus at the bottom holding just 6 seats. Candidates are members of domestic political parties, which fall under broader cross-country coalitions.

The center-right European People’s Party holds the most seats, followed by the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, and then the pro-business Renew Europe camp, the Greens.Newer far-right and Eurosceptic parties like Identity and Democracy and European Conservatives and Reformists are on the rise.

Where things stand: Turnout is predicted to be higher than usual thanks to controversial issues like Ukraine funding and the migration crisis, coupled with fears of the far right’s growing influence. The EPP and S&D lost their majority in 2019 thanks to the rise of these groups, which are expected to make further gains this year.

And there are some big “maybe” elections to watch for as well.

Can Ukraine hold an election during a war?

While there’s little to say about the upcoming Russian presidential election except “Putin will win,” Ukraine is another matter. Believe it or not, it’s been five years since a comedy actor who played a TV president was elected to run the country.

The next vote is due in March, but with the war still raging, more than a fifth of the country under foreign occupation, and millions of Ukrainians now living abroad as refugees, is it even possible to hold a legitimate vote? Zelensky has suggested it’s not, and most Ukrainians seem to agree. But he’s also faced criticism from some US Republicans who have cited his reluctance to face voters as a further reason to cut funding for Kyiv.

Israel: Bye-bye Bibi?

The next parliamentary election in Israel is set for October 2026, but it’s possible that the Jewish state could see a change in leadership before then.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the country’s longest-serving leader, but he isn’t particularly popular at the moment. Bibi faces blame for security failures surrounding the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, an ongoing corruption trial, and outcry over judicial reforms. Even though the country is in the midst of a war with Hamas, most Israelis say they want Bibi to resign (this would trigger new elections).

That said, Bibi has forcefully dismissed the idea of stepping down. Another option to remove him before 2026 would be a vote of no-confidence, which would require 61 members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament). Netanyahu’s government survived no-confidence votes in March 2023. Israel’s attorney general could also deem Bibi unfit for office, but there aren’t any signs this will happen anytime soon. For now, at least, he appears to be staying put.


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