Watch out for five crucial elections in 2022 which can affect global politics
Global politics will be affected by several crucial elections in different parts of the world this year. Abhijit Shanker takes a look at some of them
2021 was a vital year for global politics with elections held in Peru, Zambia, Germany and Israel being some that would cast long shadows. Who could have imagined the end of the road for Benjamin Netanyahu, and that he would be replaced by a ragtag coalition, led by his protégé? Real life can indeed be sometimes stranger than fiction. As the tumultuous year draws to a close, there are elections due in the new year, some which would again have a long-lasting impact on global politics.
Many of the global leaders, particularly the strongmen, seem to set themselves up for a lifelong rule – those at the apex of their careers, people like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Many others would want to emulate their path, some more openly than others. This was the year in which democracies slid several points down, a slide denied by the governments in question.
Well, even I did not like the way my grade school teachers scored me, but that’s not how it works. As the head of a state, you must review the gaps and work towards taking your country ahead, not a thousand years back in time. With that in mind, let’s look at what’s ahead.
France (April 10 & 24): President Emmanuel Macron faces an unusual situation for someone in his position. His approval ratings are at a peak so late in the term. He faces opposition from Marine Le Pen of the farright Reassemblement National, whom Macron had defeated in 2017 by a large margin. The other candidate in the fray remains Éric Zemmour, who has been compared to the former US President Donald Trump.
Zemmour too comes from a reality TV background and is a far-right politician. This election’s outcome will be crucial for their participation in the European Union. With Angela Merkel making an exit, Macron’s continuance as France’s President is crucial for EU. If Zemmour or Le Pen win, it will be the first victory for the far right in several years, something that many in the region hope would not happen.
Hungary (April): Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, has ruled the country since 2010. He was in news earlier this month for being the only European head of state who was not invited to President Joe Biden’s democracy summit. He has been criticized internationally for his far-right views and clamping down on LGBTQ and speaking against the refugees.
Perhaps anticipating a tough contest, Orban has been accusing the EU and the US of meddling in the upcoming elections. He faces a coalition of six opposition parties, led by Peter Marki-Zay, a center-right politician of the Movement for a Hungary of Everyone (MMM) party. Orban, even if he loses, will not go away easily. He has enough support in the country to make accusations about an election that was stolen from him. His claims will perhaps stick, though he is behind Marki-Zay by four percentage points in the polls right now.
Philippines (May 9): The Philippines constitution bars the current strongman President, Rodrigo Duterte, from seeking a reelection. After several attempts at bending the law to his advantage, and amidst rumours that he would let his daughter, Sara Duterte, stand for Presidential election, and opt for Vice Presidency himself, it now looks like the stage has got even messier. Ferdinand Marcos’ son, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., has joined hands with Sara Duterte, to run for Vice Presidency. Marcos Sr. remains one of the most infamous dictators the world has ever seen, who fled the country in ignominy in 1986, leaving behind the trove of loot, including 3000 pairs of shoes belonging to his wife, Imelda Marcos, who is now molding herself in the role of a matriarch for the country. Strange bedfellows these, the children of two dictators – but then, ain’t politics the art of the possible?
Brazil (Oct 2): With Lula having made his intention of fighting the impending Presidential elections clear, this will be one of the most interesting and keenly watched contests of 2022. Jair Bolsonaro, the current President, has been trying his best to conjure support for postponing the elections, his pleas have been falling flat at the doors of Brazilian courts. If Lula manages to score a victory, it will go down in political history as one of the best comebacks ever, and a return to socialism in Brazil. Under his rule earlier this century, the country had reached astounding heights, only to squander the advantages and resorting to populist politics. It will not be an easy victory for Lula if it comes and he has said he will accept any of the three scenarios: arrest, assassination, or reelection.
(Bonus) US Midterm Elections: President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are at an all-time low, and his deputy, Kamala Harris’ ratings even lower. It remains to be seen whether the duo can maintain their majority in the Senate and win back enough seats to push their agendas through. Questions like whether Biden will choose to run again, and whether his replacement from the Democrats will be Harris, are already being asked. Lists of hopefuls are being drawn to take on the Republican challenger in 2024. Those names include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg. Whether or not Biden will fight again or become a oneterm President like his predecessor, will depend on the outcome of these mid-term elections.
(The author is a former Chief of Communications with the UN in New York, where he worked for more than a decade. Views are personal)
This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.