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Feb 5, 2024, 5:03am EST

Global Election Hot List: AMLO, Khan, Maduro

Al Lucca
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The News

2024 will be defined by elections. With so many votes around the world, it can be hard to keep track of them at all. This week: AMLO’s party crushes the competition in Mexico, the former prime minister of Pakistan is given prison time, and Quebec nationalists stage a comeback.

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1. Mexico

Incumbent party dominance

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Presidential election on June 2, 2024

Al Lucca

The candidate from the Mexican president’s party is dominating opinion polling ahead of June’s presidential election. Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a progressive, holds a lead of more than 30 points over center-right candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, according to the latest Enkoll poll for El País. The situation is reflective of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s high approval ratings, rare among leaders of major Latin American countries. If either of the top two candidates win, Mexico will see its first woman president take office this year.

2. Pakistan

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Imran Khan imprisoned

Legislative elections on Feb. 8, 2024

Al Lucca

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was sentenced to prison with a general election just days away. 10-, 14- and 7-year sentences were meted out in separate cases, along with a 10-year ban on contesting elections. His wife was likewise given 21 years in prison after being convicted in two of the cases – including one that accused their marriage of being unlawful. Khan slammed the charges as “politically motivated,” a sentiment echoed by his supporters who believe the prosecution is part of an ongoing attempt to suppress his still-popular movement.

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3. Venezuela

Opposition candidate barred

Presidential election in 2024

Al Lucca

Venezuela’s top opposition candidate was barred from running for president, prompting observers to condemn Nicolás Maduro’s government. Despite some signs of an electoral opening, the move has spurred the U.S. to reintroduce sanctions on the country. Further penalties are expected if Maduro does not respond to pressure. María Corina Machado led polling for the election despite a political environment the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index has categorized as “authoritarian.”

4. South Africa

Zuma suspension

Legislative elections in October 2024

Al Lucca

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma was suspended from the ruling African National Congress after he threw his backing behind a new political party. The movement, “Spear of the Nation,” deliberately takes its name from the ANC’s historic paramilitary wing, leading to strong criticism from ANC officials. ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula said Zuma was “actively impugning the integrity” of the governing party, with tensions particularly high against a backdrop of eroding support that could culminate in the ANC losing its majority in legislative elections this year.

5. India

Regional leader swaps alliances

Legislative elections in April and May 2024

Al Lucca

A prominent regional leader has shifted his allegiance away from India’s opposition and towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, boosting the government ahead of upcoming elections. Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar state, has flipped between political factions before in India, but the latest move was still described as a “shock.” Problems appear to be mounting for the opposition coalition, with Modi — already the favorite to remain in office — appearing increasingly dominant.

6. Canada

Nationalist resurgence

Provincial elections in 2026

Al Lucca

Quebec nationalism could experience a resurgence, as the Parti Québécois has soared in polling since the 2022 election. After nearly a decade in the political wilderness, the Parti Québécois is back on top, with a recent Pallas Data poll giving it 32% of the vote. Given the electoral system, that would likely translate into a majority of seats for a party that called for a referendum on Quebec’s sovereignty in the last election.

7. Côte d’Ivoire

Swiss banker challenge

Presidential election in 2025

Al Lucca

With presidential elections scheduled for 2025, Côte d’Ivoire’s banker-turned-opposition leader is preparing for a fight. Tidjane Thiam, who served as CEO of both Prudential and Credit Suisse, is aiming to return his PDCI party to the presidency for the first time since being ousted in a 1999 coup. Part of his plan: “Strengthen internal democracy” within his movement, and barnstorm all corners of the country to reach voters. Though the opposition boycotted the previous election, the 2025 vote has been described as potentially open.

8. Austria

Communist surge

Legislative and state elections in 2024

Communists are picking up traction in two Austrian states ahead of votes this year. In Styria, which goes to the polls for its state election in the latter half of the year, the Communist Party of Austria appears at 14% in the latest poll, while in Salzburg the party showed up with 15%. The communists here have seen landmark results in recent years, scoring their best state election result since at least World War II in Salzburg’s election last year. Austria will likewise go to the polls for a general election this year, and the communists have a chance to enter parliament according to recent polling.

9. Philippines

TV anchor polls second

Presidential election in 2028

Al Lucca

A “vigilante journalist” appears in second place in a new poll for the 2028 presidential election in the Philippines. Last week, the Hot List noted the polling prominence of vice president Sara Duterte. Behind her with 26% of the vote is Senator Raffy Tulfo, host of over a dozen different TV programs over the years, along with a long-running radio show. Tulfo positions himself as a problem-solver for the working-class Filipino — and has been so successful that “I will have you on Tulfo” has become a common threat. Tulfo’s extreme brand of vigilantism has been labeled as “quack justice” by critics, who accuse him of “bullying” behavior.

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Notable

  • Despite the former leader of the Thai political party Move Forward winning his court challenge last week, a Thai court demanded that Move Forward abandon its opposition to lèse-majesté laws — which could throw the party’s future into question.
  • The GOP presidential contest heads to Nevada on Thursday, where Donald Trump and Nikki Haley will appear on separate ballots for both a caucus and a primary.
  • El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele won re-election by a landslide, despite his run being criticized as unconstitutional.
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