The year 2014 will see at least 50 significant national, local and institutional elections around the world, strengthening the momentum for a global shift towards democratic political transformations.
Among the most important are the elections in India, Indonesia, Iraq, Syria, the European Parliament, Brazil and Afghanistan.
While some of these countries and institutions will tend towards more open societies, others are expected to increase the representation of xenophobic trends. For instance the European Parliament. A significant number of extreme right wing, anti-immigrant parties in many members of the EU states are predicted to make gains, which could have the perverse outcome of shrinking the efficacy and mandate of the European Parliament itself.
There are three broad trends being witnessed: exclusionary, consolidative, and transitional. Existing western democracies considered advanced, are narrowing their horizons and becoming more exclusionary and anti-immigrant. On the other hand, elections in Asian countries are consolidating democracy, while countries such as Iraq and Syria that are transitioning are bound to experience periods of progression and regression.
Demographically, the world is moving into opposing directions. The countries with youthful populations fall into the latter two categories of consolidation and transition, while the ageing populations in the advanced democracies are turning more and more inwards.
Across this cross-section is one commonality, especially among the young: a desperate search for employment and equal opportunities.
Gateway House has compiled a list of the important countries and institutions that are going to the polls this year and has identified the most important issues in those elections: corruption, unemployment and economic stagnation.
These global developments with their wide ranging and lasting impact for the next decade must concern us all.
*Youth population has been denoted as a percentage of the total population to show their size as a voter base.
|CountryDate||Total Population Youth component (15-24 yrs)||Key Issues|
|Bangladesh5 January||152 million20.3%||*Prosecution of 1971 war criminals*Keeping religion-based parties out of politics|
|Hungary6 April||9.9 million12.5%||*Increasing right wing sentiment reflected in irredentism, anti-EU and anti-Roma positions|
|India7 April-12 May||1.25 billion19%||*Dynastic politics and crony capitalism*Unemployment and stagnant economy*Deepening divisive religious identification|
|Algeria17 April||36.4 million20.8%||*Apprehensions over impact of Arab uprisings*Youth unemployment and economic stagnation|
|Lebanon23 April||4.4 million20.0%||*Sectarian fallout of Syrian conflict*Burden of 1.2 million Syrian refugees|
|Iraq30 April||33.7 million19.8%||*Sharing of oil wealth*Shia Sunni contention*Renewed violence by Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups|
|South Africa7 May||50.7 million19.9%||*Ruling ANC party linked to corruption*Lack of basic amenities – housing, electricity and water*Unemployment and stagnating economy|
|European Union22 May||28 countries||*Handling of Eurozone crisis*Rising right wing, anti EU and anti-immigrant sentiment|
|Ukraine25 May||4.49 million14.3%||*Country divided along lines of pro-EU and pro-Russian sentiment|
|Colombia25 May||47.5 million18.3%||*Ongoing peace negotiations with FARC rebels*Fallout of drug trafficking|
|Egypt26 May||83.9 million19.7%||*Persecution of former Muslim Brotherhood leaders*Educated urban vs. rural poor|
|AfghanistanRun off 7 June||33 million19.4%||*Stability after drawdown of western troops and a resurgent Taliban*Continued international financial support*Minimising Pakistani meddling|
|Indonesia9 July||244 million16.8%||*Corruption-linked income inequalities*Revived religious radicalism|
|Thailand20 July||69.8 million14.3%||*Renewed confrontation between urban rich and rural poor|
|Turkey10 August||74.5 million17.5%||*Corrupt and autocratic leadership of PM Erdogan*Religious orientations vs. urban secular politics|
|Sweden14 September||9.4 million13.4%||*Terms of EU membership*Unemployment and privatisation of welfare services|
|Fiji17 September||0.8 million18.4%||*First election including citizens of Indian origin after decades of military rule|
|ScotlandReferendum18 September||5.3 millionNA||*Secession from the United Kingdom|
|Brazil5 October||198 million17.2%||*Anger over high public funding of World Cup*High unemployment and high inflation*Scandal at oil giant Petrobras involving close aides of President Rousseff|
|Mozambique15 October||24.47 million19.3%||*Continuing fallout of civil war, unemployment and economic mismanagement|
|Romania2 November||21.3 million13.7%||*Security fallout post Ukraine confrontation*Unemployment and corruption|
|CataloniaReferendum9 November||7 millionNA||*Secession from Spain|
|TunisiaTo be announced||10.7 million18.8%||*Unemployment and economic stagnation*Uncertain constitutional and political stability|
Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division and International Foundation for Electoral Systems
This chart was compiled by Marisha Dolly Singh, Website Team, Gateway House
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