POFA’s Election Watch is a new series that aims to bring you the latest news on up-coming foreign elections and the issues at the forefront of them, as well as helping decipher the latest polling information and predictions.
France: Can flailing Macron keep his hold on power?
At the core of the 2022 Presidential Election in France is the rematch of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, who battled it out for the nation’s highest office in the 2017 election. This year, however, Eric Zemmour’s candidacy adds an interesting twist; could the hardline, conspiracy theorist journalist pull off an upset, defeating the liberal Macron and the far-right Le Pen? As Macron’s approval ratings plummet, it appears that some in France are seeking alternatives to centrism and looking towards either the right — Zemmour and Le Pen — or left — Mélechon — sides of the political spectrum.
Issues at hand: immigration, France’s status as a member of the European Union, LGBTQ+ rights, religious freedom, economic policy
Philippines: Duterte’s retirement gives space to new players
After President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent retirement announcement, the presidential race has taken a new turn in the Philippines. Currently, Representative Pantaleon Alvarez and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, are leading in opinion polls. Voters will have to decide whether they wish to continue Duterte’s policies on LGBT+ rights, anti-drug policy, China-Philippine relations, amongst others. During his term, Duterte has commandeered out a war on drugs that has killed thousands of people, criticised as a war on the poor by some of his critics, fluctuated between the American and the Chinese sphere of influence, allowing the Chinese government to explore areas in the South China Sea that are legally recognised as part of the Philippines, before seemingly drawing closer to the American sphere of influence in the past year.
Issues at hand: Human rights, anti-drug policy, China-Philippines territorial disputes, economic recession, LGBTQ+ rights, hunger
Brazil: Bolsonaro moves towards authoritarianism, as Lula bids on a return to the presidency
A storm is brewing as ultra-conservative Bolsonaro and former President Lula da Silva of the Workers Party are preparing to square off in a highly divisive election. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil saw disastrous handling of the pandemic, economic recession, rising inflation, and increasing deforestation. These issues have many Brazilians claiming for a return of the Workers Party to the presidency or for a third-party alternative, which has yet to materialize. As Lula climbs in the polls, Bolsonaro’s chances of a second term are threatened, leading to concerning movements towards authoritarianism from Brazil’s president.
Issues at hand: future of the Amazon, democracy in Brazil, climate change, poverty, corruption, crime
South Korea: Resolve for unification weakens amid the People Power Party’s fight to reclaim the presidency
The People Power Party (PPP) is vying to retake the presidency from the Democratic Power , as popular opinion shifts away from the long-held consensus that unification with North Korea was crucial to the future of the Korean Peninsula. The Democratic Party has lost the mayorships of Seoul and Busan to the conservative PPP in 2021, showing a marked swing towards conservatism especially among younger generations. The primary elections are ongoing for both parties with Yoon-Seok Youl and Lee Jae-Myung in the lead for the PPP and the Democratic Party, respectively.
Issues at hand: Korean Unification, North Korean relations, Nuclear Proliferation, East Asian Balance of Power, Social Policy
Hong Kong: The first “Patriots Only” election kicks off in Hong Kong
This year marks the introduction of a new political system in Hong Kong, where close to 5,000 citizens, mostly pro-Beijing businessmen and other interest groups, will elect a new election committee, which will in turn elect a new Legislative Assembly and Chief Executive. The consensus among experts is that this system will allow for the election of a pro-establishment candidate, who will continue to strengthen Beijing’s influence over Hong Kong and continue the crackdown on pro-democracy protests. There are no clear successors to current Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but Norman Chan, Regina Ip, and Paul Chan have been floated as potential contenders.
Issues at hand: Democracy, China-Hong Kong relations, Hong Kong independence, human right to protest, freedom, self-determination
Julia Queiroz is a freshman majoring in International Studies and Economics at Johns Hopkins University. She is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is part of the editorial team of the Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Affairs.