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“Super election year 2024”: five elections to keep an eye on

Photo: Mohamed Hassan/ PxHere

2024 has been called the ‘election year’ by political analysts. People in more than 70 countries will be casting their votes which amounts to 3.7 billion people, almost half of the world’s population. Just because elections are organized, this does not automatically mean they are democratic. In some elections, the winner is predetermined, such as the presidential election in Russia. In other countries, however, the elections will be important indicators of democracy, such as in Georgia, where crucial parliamentary elections will be held in October. In any case, the EFDS will closely follow the following elections:

  1. European elections (June 6 – 9).

Elections for a new European Parliament will take place throughout the European Union in early June. The parliament consists of more than 700 seats, these are distributed on the basis of degressive proportionality. This means that countries with more inhabitants elect a larger number of members, but the seats of a smaller country represent a smaller number of people.

Several polling firms expect mainly far-right parties to do well. They poll the far-right group in the European Parliament called “Identity and Democracy” (ID) third with about 13 percent of the vote. In recent years it became clear that also in national elections these parties attracted many votes, this was the case for example in the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia. It seems likely that this trend will also continue on the European level.

All European parties that are pro-European integration are currently at a loss in the polls. If this continues in the results it could have major consequences for the workability of the EU. The EU must evolve in order to efficiently implement its policies. A larger bloc of euroskeptic parties in the European Parliament could result in reforms to be blocked.

  1. Presidential and parliamentary elections in North Macedonia (April 24/May 8).

Presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in North Macedonia in late April and early May. The first round of presidential elections will take place on April 24, followed by the second round and parliamentary elections on May 8. The opposition has been calling for elections for two years, accusing the current government of corruption.

The elections will be important for North Macedonia’s prospects of joining the European Union. North Macedonia has been an EU candidate since 2005 and is currently on hold to begin negotiations with the EU. This is partly because Bulgaria has so far blocked the start of accession negotiations. To resolve the conflict, a compromise has been negotiated. This compromise involves amending the Macedonian constitution. First of all, North Macedonia will add in the preamble of the constitution that there are “people living within the borders of the state who are part of another nations, for example, Bulgarian”. In addition, the proposal talks about “protecting the rights of all minorities and communities by countering hate speech and discrimination”. The problem, however, is that a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in parliament. Until now, there has never been a two-thirds majority for a constitutional amendment, but the elections may provide new opportunities for this.

The rise of some parties that are not uniformly pro-EU may also jeopardize Macedonian EU accession. Parties like Levica and VMRO-DPMNE did not do very well last elections, but are currently popular, partly because of the unpopularity of the current government. This is partly because, despite the name change, there has been no progress on EU accession. Consequently, support among Macedonians for EU accession has declined in recent years. Nevertheless, 60 percent of residents still support EU accession. The percentage of opponents of EU accession has been stable around 12 percent for several years.

  1. Local elections in Turkey (March 31)

On March 31, voters in Turkey will go to the polls for municipal elections. Throughout Turkey, new mayors and senior officials will be elected. The elections are another test for the opposition. They lost the last year’s presidential elections by a wide margin, despite a severe earthquake that struck Turkey that year, causing much unrest in Turkish society. Despite the opposition parties uniting, they failed to defeat Erdogan and his AKP.

At the municipal level, however, the opposition previously succeeded in defeating Erdogan’s AKP. Major cities like Istanbul and Ankara are currently governed by a mayor from the CHP, a center-left secular party. Therefore, the upcoming elections are going to be an important gauge of political sentiments in Turkey. Erdogan will make every effort to ensure that these cities are once again governed by his allies.

In addition, the elections will also be a test for the democracy in Turkey. Although there is still real opposition, there are serious concerns about media freedom. More than 90 percent of the national media are now controlled by the government, and media organizations that do not represent the AKP voice are being shut down or taken over by Erdogan’s allies. Opponents of the regime are indicted to make it difficult for them to voice opposition.

  1. Parliamentary and presidential elections in Georgia (Oct. 26/Dec. 26)

On Oct. 26, Georgia holds elections for the Georgian parliament. These elections are interesting because Georgia became an EU candidate last December. In recent years, the Georgian Dream party (GD) has been in power. Under the GD administration, democracy has weakened. They are also viewed with suspicion given Georgia’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. This is a very sensitive matter in Georgia since Russia annexed two provinces of Georgia during a brief war in 2008. GD, however, says they are pro-EU. Instead, they accuse other parties of unnecessarily provoking Russia.

An important development heading into the elections this fall is the return of Bidzina Ivanishvili to Georgian politics (we wrote this article about him). He is the founder of GD and also Georgia’s richest man.  From October 2012 to November 2013, he was already prime minister of Georgia. After that he disappeared into the background, but it is widely believed that he still plays an important role in Georgian politics behind the scenes. However, he says he does not want to become prime minister, presumably he will run in the presidential election, which will also take place in 2024.

Both elections will be important for possible Georgian EU accession. Georgia will have to start negotiating terms for accession. Good result for GD will presumably stand in the way of this, given the serious weakening of the democratic rule of law that has taken place under their leadership.

  1. Parliamentary elections in India (April/May).

In April and May there will be parliamentary elections in India, the world’s largest democracy. More than 600 million voters are likely to cast their ballots over a 5-week period. Incumbent Prime Minister Modi is very likely to win these elections with his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Economic growth, over seven percent, has propelled Modi’s popularity to great heights. Major infrastructure projects have ensured rapidly advancing development. Elections in three northern Hindi-speaking states where support for the BJP has always been strong were won convincingly by the BJP.

Yet there are also concerns about Modi’s regime. Modi wants to turn India into a Hindu state, where minorities are second-class citizens. Modi owes his political career to his membership in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu-extremist organization founded in 1925 and modeled after Italian fascist groups. The goal of the RSS is to make India a Hindu state with a Hindu identity. In this state, there is no room for other views or believes. The BJP supports this way of thinking. Several human rights organizations have reported violence, especially against the Muslim minority in India in recent years. In addition, several human rights organizations working to combat genocide have warned that signs of a possible genocide are already visible in Indian society.

Written by Ype Verhagen