KARACHI: 2024, dubbed as the biggest election year in world history, will witness more than 50 countries — with a combined population of around 4.2 billion — going for the national and regional polls, including Pakistan.
The first elections of the year were held in Bangladesh where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazid recorded her 4th straight win on Sunday amidst a low turn-out of voters. These controversial elections were boycotted by the main opposition the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Khaleda Zia, which accuses Hasina’s Awami League of victimizing dissenting voices and opposition leaders and activists.
Taiwan will follow closely with elections set for January 13 as it faces mounting pressure from the motherland China, which wants the breakaway island country back in its fold. So far, the pro-U.S. Lai Ching-te appears to be leading polls.
In South Asia, the next keenly watched elections are due in Pakistan on February 8, but the entire electoral process has become contentious because the main opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is accusing the military-backed caretaker government of denying it a level-playing field. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker set-up denies the allegation. A number of the top PTI leaders, including its founding chairman Imran Khan, scores of its activists are in prison on charges ranging from treason and terrorism to corruption and undermining national security. The PTI has also been denied its election symbol “bat” by the ECP, which says that its intra party elections were disputed. Under these circumstances, many analysts doubt that the Feb. 8 polls would be able to bring the much-needed political stability in this poor nuclear-armed nation which is the fifth most populous country of the world.
Another Muslim country, Indonesia, which is the world’s fourth most populous country, is also eyeing elections in February. Jakarta is looking for a new leader as President Joko Widodo is ineligible to run for a third term.
India, touted as the world’s largest democracy, will hold general elections sometime before June. In these elections the hardline Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to return to power for the third time running. The BJP is pitted against the coalition of opposition regional and national parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). A massive 945 million registered voters were counted in India at the start of 2023. Since then, Prime Minister Modi has claimed that over a billion people will be eligible to vote in 2024 when the world’s most populous nation goes to polls.
The United States is also set for presidential and House elections in November, which are likely to be a repeat of 2020 if President Joe Biden goes head-to-head against his predecessor Donald Trump.
One of Africa’s biggest economies and founding member of the BRICS alliance – South Africa — will hold elections in May, with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s African National Congress aiming to continue its uninterrupted hold on power since the end of Apartheid in 1994.
In South America, Mexico will go to polls in June. Political pundits predict a certain victory for Mexico’s first female leader as incumbent Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s protégé Claudia Sheinbaum will take on Xóchitl Gálvez, who is leading a coalition of opposition parties.
In 2024, along with nation-states, the European Union (EU) will also hold parliamentary elections in June. There are fears of a resurgence of right-wing parties in the continent, which will make an impact on Europe’s policy towards Ukraine in its war against Russia as several right-wing parties in Western Europe stand opposed to providing continued aid to Kyiv’s war effort.
Russia and Iran will also hold general elections in 2024. In both these countries, analysts expect little surprises as the incumbent set-ups are most likely to return to power.