2022 looks set to be a turbulent year in electoral politics, with a variety of influential countries going to the polls. A number of important world leaders including Jair Bolsonaro, Emmanuel Macron, Rodrigo Duterte and Scott Morrison will face their electorates this year whilst important regional elections will take place in Canada, Germany and the UK amongst others.
Kenya (General, August 9)
With the 7th largest population in Africa and 6th highest GDP, Kenya is highly influential in this volatile area of East Africa. With violence a regular occurrence in the wake of previous elections, observers are again concerned that traditional ethno-political tensions will resurface in the race to replace President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is term-limited. Both the USA and China have geopolitical interests in the country; Kenya is often at the forefront of economic progress in Africa. The frontrunner is current vice president William Ruto of the right-wing Jubilee Party (also the party of Kenyatta). His party also hold power in both the National Assembly and Senate. Former prime minister Raila Odinga of the liberal ODM will be the main challenger as he was in 2017.
Other elections: Libya (parliamentary), Gambia (parliamentary) Angola (legislative)
Brazil (General, October 2)
Possibly the biggest and most consequential election this year could be the Brazilian presidential election. President Jair Bolsonaro has been one of the most controversial world leaders since his election in 2017. His popularity has taken a massive dive due to poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic;Brazil has seen over 600 000 people die. Former President Lula of the Workers Party was released from prison in 2019 and is surging ahead. The broad left has the momentum in Latin America right now with leftist candidates knocking off conservative presidents in Chile, Peru and Honduras last year. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has already begun to lay the groundwork for Trump-style accusations of fraud in the event that he loses.
Canada (Regional; Ontario, June 2)
Home to 38% of the Canadian population and the country’s economic center, Ontario is one of Canada’s most influential provinces. The Progressive Conservatives currently hold the majority in the Legislative Assembly, having decimated the Liberals last time around. Current polling suggests a tight race for first place in votes, with the Liberals leapfrogging the NDP. With first past the post in action, PC may have the edge with the more centrist/left-wing voters split. However, with all three parties in contention, momentum will go a long way to deciding the winner.
Colombia (Parliamentary, March 13 – Presidential, May 29)
Colombia has long been a bastion of conservatism in South America – no left-of-center president has been elected since 1994. However, polling at the presidential level suggests that this may be about to change. The incumbent president Iván Duque Márquez of the Democratic Center is ineligible for re-election and has faced serious unrest recently. Gustavo Petro of the progressive Humane Colombia party is leading first round and runoff polling over various centrist and right-wing candidates. Similar to Brazil, Petro can benefit from the general momentum of the left in the region. Polling, however, is sparse. Additionally, results of the parliamentary election may have an impact on the presidential election two months later.
United States (Midterms, November 8)
After a quiet first half of 2021, Joe Biden has had a tumultuous finish to the year as he struggled to pass his agenda in Congress and battles dropping approval ratings. There’s still a long way to go, but the environment looks highly favorable for Republicans to take the House of the Representatives. The Senate remains up in the air with races in most of the closest states in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia are likely to be the biggest battlegrounds. Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and possibly more are also on the map.
36 governorships are up for election too. Two blue-state Republican governors in Maryland and Massachusetts are stepping aside, opening up easy pick-ups for the Democrats. Conversely Democrat Laura Kelly will find it tough to hold on in Kansas. Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Maine (five of which are held by Democrats) are all likely to be on the map this year.
Other elections: Costa Rica (general) and Quebec (regional)
State legislative assemblies – Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir (throughout the year), Delhi municipal corporation (April)
In last year’s Delhi Legislative Assembly elections, the center-left AAP swept to power, taking 62/70 seats and knocking the right-wing BJP (the party of prime minister Narendra Modi) off the top spot. This year they will be trying to put a dent in both right-wing BJP aligned parties and the center-left INC which has been plagued by corruption. Delhi’s three municipal corporations will be top of their target list as well as taking the majority in Punjab from the INC. They will also be hopeful of winning seats in Uttarakhand where the INC is in a tight race to knock the BJP out of power.
The INC will also be hoping to gain control from the BJP in Manipur. The BJP look set to stay in power in Goa and Uttar Pradesh, whilst the deeply unstable state of Jammu and Kashmir is also due to have elections this year, having been under “president’s rule” since 2018.
The Philippines (Presidential/legislative, May 9)
The highly controversial President Rodrigo Duterte of the left-wing PDP-Laban is ineligible for re-election and has ruled himself out of the vice presidency. Polling puts former senator Bongbong Marcos of the center-right PFP as the clear frontrunner. The mayor of Manila Isko Moreno of the center-left Aksyon, former heavyweight boxing world champion across four weight divisions and current senator Manny Pacquiao of PDP-Laban and current vice president and leader of the Liberal Party (although she is standing as an independent) Leni Robredo are the only other candidates capable of polling in double figures. Sara Duterte, daughter of the President and running mate of Bongbong Marcos is the clear favourite for the vice presidency, with both polling at around 50%.
Other elections: Lebanon (general), Nepal (general) South Korea (presidential)
Regional – Saarland, Schleswig and Holstein, North Rhine Westphalia, Lower Saxony (throughout the year)
Riding high on the back of successful federal elections, the SPD is looking to overtake the CDU as the largest party in Saarland, Schleswig and Holstein and North-Rhine Westphalia. The polls have swung in their direction since their election victory in November. They now lead narrowly in all three as well as Lower Saxony where they are already the largest party. The Greens and to a lesser extent the FDP are also up notably in the polls meaning a replication of the national coalition in Schleswig and Holstein, North-Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony looks more likely. The left-wing Linke look set to suffer further losses whilst the far-right AFD are polling at similar levels to 2017. Neither party are major players in these states and are unlikely to find themselves in a coalition post-election.
Hungary (Parliamentary; April 3)
Prime Minister Viktor Orban will lead his right-wing Fidesz-KNDP alliance into its toughest election since it gained power in 2010. His authoritarian tendencies have driven a sporadic group of parties under a single umbrella called the United for Hungary alliance. This an attempt to counter the electoral system which has enabled Fidesz-KNDP to win two-thirds of the seats with just 49% of the votes. The alliance consists of six parties – the conservative (and formerly far-right) Jobbik, social democratic MSZP, green Dialogue, green/liberal LMP, center-left DK, and centrist Momentum.
Primaries have been held to select candidates in each constituency. Additionally, the independent center-right mayor of the town of Hódmezővásárhely Péter Márki-Zay won the primary to be the Prime Ministerial candidate. Through this method, the alliance previously managed to take control of the General Assembly of Budapest from Fidesz in 2019. Recent polling gives Fidesz-KNDP a narrow lead but it is clear both alliances are sitting at about 45% each. It is likely that United for Hungary will need to win by a comfortable margin in order to counterbalance the inbuilt electoral advantages that Fidesz-KDNP holds.
France (Presidential, April 10; Legislative, June)
Emmanuel Macron will stand for re-election in a turbulent French political scene this year. Having swept to power in 2017, knocking off the traditional big two (center-left PS and center-right LR), he is facing numerous challengers from across the political spectrum. Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally is back for round two having been battered in the 2017 runoff. Le Pen herself is facing a challenge from her right from self-proclaimed “Gaullo-Bonapartist” pundit Eric Zemmour. Valerie Pecresse was recently selected to be the candidate for LR. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan again flys the flag for national-conservative DLF.
Meanwhile, the left is hopelessly divided. Jean-Luc Melenchon of the socialist LFI is also returning to the fray, having been the top left-wing candidate in 2017. Yannick Jadot won the Green Party primary, and the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo will represent PS. Former justice minister Christiane Taubira recently joined the contest as leader of the center-left French Guinean Walwari party. Fabien Roussel is the candidate for the Communist Party, Nathalie Arthaud is running for the Trotskyist LO and Philippe Poutou holds the banner of the New Anticapitalist Party. Plans are afoot for a left-wing primary, although the three biggest left-wing candidates (Melenchon, Jadot and Hidalgo) have ruled out taking part. It is expected that Taubira would win that primary.
In total, 40 candidates are running, although most of them won’t break 1% assuming they don’t drop out before the election. Macron is narrowly leading first-round polling and runoff scenarios. Pecresse, Le Pen and Zemmour appear to be in a three-way race to reach the runoff. Melenchon is best placed to scrape together the votes for a chance of a left-wing candidate in the runoff.
Northern Ireland Assembly (May 5,) local councils (May 6)
The strife of the British unionist DUP has opened up an opportunity for the Irish republican Sinn Fein to become the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time. The DUP faces challenges from the more extreme unionist TUV, more moderate unionist UUP, and non-sectarian Alliance Party, all of whom smell blood following the churn three leaders in 2021 and constant issues surrounding Brexit. Sinn Fein merely needs to hold their nerve and their existing seats. Alliance and the UUP will be doing battle for moderate unionist voters, with one or the other likely to have very strong results. The moderate Irish nationalists the SDLP are waiting for a Sinn Fein slip up whilst also trying to stop votes flowing from them to Alliance.
Local councils across Scotland, Wales and many parts of England (including London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and Southampton) will be electing new councillors. In Scotland, the SNP will be trying to secure majorities on a number of councils where they are the largest party but are being kept out by unionist coalitions consisting of some or all of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and independents. The Greens, too, will hope to grab on the SNP’s coattails whilst Labour will be hoping to unify the unionist vote due to the strife of the conservatives at a national level.
Meanwhile, in Wales Labour will hope to build on an encouraging Assembly election last year and a popular government. In England, the Liberal Democrats and Greens will be coming for a lot of conservative seats on more rural councils. Labour will be looking to decimate the conservatives in the North (where recent strife of Boris Johnson has gone down particularly poorly) and in London.
Other elections Latvia (parliamentary), Malta (parliamentary), Northern Cyprus (parliamentary), Portugal (legislative), Castilla Leon (Spain, regional), Bosnia and Herzegovina (general), Serbia (general), Sweden (general), Slovenia (parliamentary, presidential) Austria (presidential)
Australia (Federal, May 21)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will attempt to lead his Liberal-National coalition to a fourth term in government. However, it has been a tough third term for Morrison. His particularly draconian COVID-19 restrictions, multiple devastating wildfire seasons, and sexual misconduct allegations against members of his party have made for a bumpy three years. The Labour Party (led by Anthony Albanese) appears to be taking advantage. They have opened up an increasingly comfortable polling lead in the two-party preferred vote in recent months. The Greens have also seen a small jump since 2019.
Other elections: South Australia (Australia, regional), Victoria (Australia, regional), Fiji (general)