2024 – The mother of all election years

A security officer checkes ballot boxes during Liberia's presidential election in Monrovia, Liberia October 10, 2023. REUTERS/Carielle Doe/File Photo

In 2024, approximately half of the global population is poised to participate in elections across 76 countries, as reported by The Economist. Widespread discontent with living conditions and political options, security threats and emerging technology challenges from flawed electronic voting systems to AI-generated deep fakes, adds complexity to the global electoral landscape.

The Democracy Index, assessing 71 nations, foresees 43, including 27 EU members, as likely to experience genuinely free and fair elections. However, the remaining 28 fall short of meeting essential democratic conditions. Notably, eight of the world’s most populous nations—Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States—are scheduled for elections in 2024.

Despite this, half of these nations face elections lacking both freedom and fairness, with deficiencies in democratic prerequisites like freedom of speech and association. Elections in Bangladesh, Mexico, Pakistan, and Russia are unlikely to result in regime change due to their hybrid or authoritarian nature.

Elections in South Africa, boasting a population of over 60 million, are on the horizon. Despite facing a fragmented opposition and grappling with corruption scandals, the ruling African National Congress appears well-positioned for triumph. Meanwhile, in Western Europe, the upcoming European Parliament elections scheduled for June are anticipated to bring migration-related concerns to the forefront, potentially tilting the balance in favor of parties advocating more stringent immigration controls.

On the other hand, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the United States are classified as “flawed democracies” by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), indicating that while elections are free and fair, their political systems exhibit weaknesses. Key events include Indonesia’s upcoming legislative and presidential elections, India’s May elections with anti-incumbent sentiment challenging Narendra Modi’s ruling party, and Brazil’s October municipal elections shaping the political landscape between the Workers’ Party and the Liberal Party.

November will witness pivotal elections in the United States, encompassing the presidential race, the entire House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate. Despite President Joe Biden’s lowest score in political culture among the measured aspects by the EIU, he is expected to face the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

Beyond these major elections, Taiwan’s January vote will significantly impact its relations with China, particularly concerning independence aspirations.

Regionally, Europe (37 countries) and Africa (18 countries) will witness significant electoral activity in 2024. The Democracy Index highlights stark contrasts, with Western Europe scoring high (average of 8.4), while the Middle East and North Africa region ranks the lowest (3.3), and sub-Saharan Africa closely follows (4.1).

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