November Election Bonanza – 4 Non-American Elections You Don’t Want to Miss
Not getting enough news about the American election on November 8? Or are you perhaps tired of all the drama surrounding it? No matter your standpoint, here are four other presidential elections taking place in November that you shouldn’t miss.
First out on the election schedule is the island state of Palau. Never heard of it? Well, considering the nation’s population only amounts to roughly 20 000, it is perhaps no wonder that you’ve missed it in the news. On November 1st this small pacific island state is going to the polls to elect a president and a National Congress.
Compared to the hateful tone between Clinton and Trump, this presidential election appears to be a more familiar affair – quite literally in fact. Two of the presidential candidates share close family ties. Incumbent President Tommy Remengesau, who is seeking a fourth term, is running against his brother-in-law Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr.
For some candidates the election is also proving somewhat lonely. During a debate organized for the three vice-presidential candidates, only one showed up. It remains to be seen if this lone candidate got the edge and ends up the winner.
Next up: Nicaragua. Presidential elections will be held on November 6th in this South American country. However, it is an election that has already been steeped in controversy. Current president Daniel Ortega is almost certain to win after a crackdown on opposition and civil liberties. In June, the Supreme Court ousted Eduardo Montealegre as leader of the opposition party PLI, handing the position to Pedro Reyes Vallejos, a man with strong connections to the Ortega government. Other parties have also seen their legal status compromised by judges and electoral officials with alleged ties to the Ortega administration. International observers and the Catholic Church have both criticised these recent developments, fearing it as a dangerous step towards a single-party regime.
Election poster from 2011. (Picture: Sven Hansen; Flickr)
Protesters have taken to the streets, but without real opposition Ortega is set to win by a landslide. He and his family could remain in power for years, even decades. He has successfully eliminated presidential term limits, appointed his wife as vice president, and banned international observers from the election. It seems that Nicaragua will be taking a regrettable step towards dictatorship on November 6th.
On the same day as Nicaragua, the people of Bulgaria will also head to the polls to elect their president. But while held on the same day, the elections in these two countries could hardly be more different. For one, in Bulgaria a whopping 21 candidates are pitted against each other. It is also an election with much less at stake.
In Bulgaria the President has very limited political power. Still, the lack of influence over key government policy has not stopped the candidates from talking about it. As the Bulgarian paper The Sofia Globe points out in their election coverage: The candidate “Radev went on to talk about pensions and the lack of prospects for Bulgaria’s youth, honouring once again – as all candidates tend to do – the tradition of presidential candidates talking about matters over which the President, as a largely ceremonial head of state, has no say”.
Besides candidates talking about policy issues which they have no influence over, the election has mainly focused on voting and electoral rules such as the number of polling stations abroad. A decidedly less sexy run-up than the American election.
Were it not for hurricane Matthew, Haiti would have been next on the list. The disaster hit island has however indefinitely postponed the election,which was originally set to be held on november 20th. Instead we turn to Gambia. The election is not until December 1st, but let us make an exception for this pivotal election in West Africa.
Often described as one of the world’s most eccentric and ruthless leaders, President Yahya Jammeh is poised to stay in power yet another presidential term. Jammeh has been in power since 1994 after a bloodless coup. Perhaps in the true style of the word, this megalomaniac believes himself to have miraculous powers, claiming for instance that he can cure Aids and infertility.
Brutal pre-election crackdowns on protesters and opposition have been reported over the last few months. According to Amnesty, arrest and beatings are commonplace and journalists are regularly being silenced. In April, the national secretary of the opposition party (UDP) Solo Sandeng, died in custody, likely after being tortured.
The election has been widely criticised for being rigged and few things speak in favour of the opposition being able to oust Jammeh from power. Nevertheless, there have been steps taken by opposition parties to form an alliance and unite around one candidate. The alliance is fragile and uncertain, but if it holds, it could perhaps prove to be a path to victory.