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The Hot List

Updated Jul 22, 2024, 6:39am EDT

Semafor’s subjective, dynamic ranking of the elections you should be paying attention to right now — based on their urgency, their importance, and their connection to the great political forces shaping our world.

USA – Biden out
Presidential election on November 5th, 2024

US President Joe Biden officially dropped out of the race for president on Sunday. Despite weeks of insisting he would remain in the race, President Biden withdrew his campaign and immediately handed his endorsement to Vice President Kamala Harris, who betting markets by and large favor to become the nominee. Some of Harris's potential opponents for the nomination, like California Governor Gavin Newsom, have already pledged their support for her, but Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia may still toss his name into contention.

ArrowThe USA last appeared on the Hot List at #8, with Congressman Jamaal Bowman's primary defeat.
UK – Labour landslide
Legislative elections on July 4, 2024

UK Labour won a colossal victory in Thursday's general election. The center-left party secured 412 out of 650 total seats as of the latest count, compared to the Tories with just 121. While Labour's landslide was one of the biggest in the party's history, the overall results still saw erosion for both of the UK's major parties. Labour's popular vote victory came across as somewhat underwhelming compared to polling, as well, as the party clocked in only 10 points ahead of the Tories when many surveys had anticipated double that.

ArrowThe UK last appeared on the Hot List at #3, featuring a possible SNP loss in Scotland.
South Africa – Solidification
Legislative elections held May 29, 2024

South Africa’s new unity government will see the Democratic Alliance occupy cabinet positions for the first time. Though negotiations appeared to be rocky, a deal has been reached to grant the DA six cabinet seats in the incoming government. The coalition will mark the ANC’s deepest power-sharing arrangement since Nelson Mandela’s first government, which necessitated political representation for other parties as a provision of the interim constitution.

ArrowSouth Africa last appeared on the Hot List at #4, with unity deals at the provincial level.
Iran – Reformist win
Presidential election held July 5th, 2024

Iran’s presidential election brought about the victory of a Reformist candidate, one of the country’s only prominent political figures to have even remotely criticized the government. Masoud Pezeshkian has promised to “deliver freedoms people have yearned for” in Iran, winning in an upset after hardline candidates failed to consolidate. While Pezeshkian is still considered “loyal to Iran’s theocracy,” Pezeshkian was one of the few politicians to weigh in against the police brutality that sparked Iran’s 2022 protests. Pezeshkian later backtracked, however, and warned against “insulting” the ayatollah.

ArrowIran last appeared on the Hot List at #3, with the calling of this election.
Italy – Leftist revival
Legislative elections in 2025

Italy may see a leftist revival, as the new Greens and Left Alliance (AVS) is gaining traction in polling. Until recently, the AVS saw only negligible results in surveys, but winning seats in the European Parliament may have set them back on course. In multiple polls, the party has risen to 7% of the vote, as the 5 Star Movement has declined. One new AVS MEP, “anti-fascist activist” Ilaria Salis, was jailed for 15 months by Viktor Orban’s government in Hungary for alleged assault of neo-Nazis at a rally. Her release following her European victory drew media attention around the world.

ArrowItaly last appeared on the Hot List at #3, with the emergence of far-right general Robert Vannacci
Canada – By-election shock
Legislative elections in 2025

A recent by-election in Toronto spells political disaster for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Canada’s Conservative Party won in shocking fashion to represent a Toronto parliamentary seat previously considered a Liberal stronghold. In 2021, Trudeau’s incumbent candidate won by a margin of 24 points; this time around, the Conservatives narrowly picked it up. Conservatives have been leading national polling in Canada, and the Toronto by-election seems to confirm the party has a chance to break through even where the Liberals dominate.

ArrowCanada last appeared on the Hot List at #7, looking at Mississauga's new mayor Carolyn Parrish.
Kenya – UDA infighting
Presidential election in 2027

The governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is at the center of an internal conflict developing within the president’s party. Governor Johnson Sakaja, from the nationally incumbent UDA, is looking to take over the party’s chairmanship in Nairobi County. The contest has developed into a struggle between factions, with opponents of Sakaja launching “vicious attacks” on his credibility, accusing him of “high-level corruption.” Sakaja’s enemies may even include Rigathi Gachagua, Kenya’s deputy president.

ArrowKenya last appeared on the Hot List at #3, looking at attempts to change presidential term limits.
Joey Pfeifer
Czechia – ANO jump
EU Parliament elections held through June 9, 2024

Czechia’s ANO movement, led by billionaire Andrej Babis, is jumping to the far-right in the EU Parliament. After being expelled from Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renew group, Babis is signing on with Viktor Orban and his “Patriots for Europe,” a new group that is gathering support from a scattered slate of nationalist parties in the EU. Already, the Patriots for Europe include Austria’s Freedom Party and Spain’s Vox. While the new group adds to far-right splintering within the EU, the addition of Babis slightly bolsters numbers on that end of the political spectrum, and could end up further radicalizing Czech politics.

ArrowThis is Czechia's first appearance on the Hot List.
North Macedonia – Nationalist parliament
Legislative elections held May 8, 2024

Nationalists now hold North Macedonia’s legislature and are already stoking conflict with neighboring Greece. The right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party secured both the presidency and first place in parliamentary elections held in May, cementing their influence over the country. The new prime minister, Hristijan Mickoski, continues to refer to “North Macedonia” as just “Macedonia” in contravention of its agreement with Greece to defuse a territorial dispute, and has rolled back plans for resolving a dispute with Bulgaria — both of which could threaten North Macedonia’s accession to the EU.

ArrowNorth Macedonia last appeared on the Hot List at #7, with an initial look at nationalist victories in recent elections.
Emma Roshan
Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Austrian social democrats have a novel plank for this year’s election: free media subscriptions for young people. As Politico reports, the policy aims to “combat fake news” by offering news subscriptions for Austrian citizens between the ages of 16 and 30. Press in Austria has struggled in recent years, and the measure is intended to both support a healthy information diet for young voters and revitalize the “poor financial health” of Austrian news outlets through government funding.