Millions of people around the world voted in 2022. South Koreans narrowly elected conservative candidate Yoon Suk-Yoel as president. Viktor Orbán remained Hungary’s prime minister as his far-right Fidesz Party dominated a heavily rigged election. Emmanuel Macron won re-election in France, making him the first French president in two decades to win re-election. Philippine voters elected Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., the son of the dictator ousted from power in 1986, as president. Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party won Australia’s parliamentary election, ending nine years of party control Liberal. Colombians elected their first president from the left, Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola remained in power in the closest elections in Angola’s history. William Ruto won the Kenyan presidential race by less than two percentage points. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro lost a hotly contested runoff to former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Israelis went to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years, giving former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the chance to form a new government. In the US congressional midterm elections, Democrats retained control of the Senate, while Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives.
Next year will see its share of consistent choices. Some of them can surprise when governments fall, be it through routine parliamentary maneuvering, street protests or coups. But many elections are already on the calendar, even if the specific dates have not yet been determined. Here are five picks to watch in 2023.
2022 in review
Politic and government
elections and voting
Nigerian general election, February 25. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and, in many ways, the most influential. So whoever wins the Nigerian presidential election matters not only to Nigerians but to all of Africa and beyond. Term limits prevent incumbent President Muhammahu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) from seeking re-election. Therefore, the APC nominated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos, the country’s most populous state, as its candidate. The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, nominated former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Buhari in the 2019 election. Sixteen other parties will have candidates on the ballot. One candidate who can outperform both Tinubu and Abubakar is Peter Obi, the Labor Party candidate. Obi is a businessman—he attended Harvard Business School—and a former governor of Anambra State. A late September 2022 poll showed him leading comfortably among Nigerians who have already decided on a candidate. If no candidate wins a majority in the February vote, Nigeria would have the first runoff in its history. The February elections will be held under the new Electoral Law, which seeks to make voting more transparent and secure. The issues of greatest concern to the approximately 95 million Nigerians heading to the polls to elect a president, vice president and members of the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives include security, corruption, employment and education.
Turkish general election, June 18. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s two-decade dominance in Turkish politics will face its toughest test in Turkey’s 2023 general election, in which a new president and members of the Grand National Assembly will be elected. Erdoğan served as Turkey’s prime minister from 2003 to 2014. In 2014, he ran for president, a largely ceremonial position in Turkey’s parliamentary system. In 2017, he engineered the country’s shift to a presidential system. He was re-elected to the suddenly much more powerful presidency in 2018. In recent years, Erdogan has lost his political wizardry even as he has made it difficult for opponents to challenge his rule. In addition to eroding Turkey’s democracy, he has mismanaged the economy. Annual inflation is now over 80 percent, well above the world inflation rate of 12 percent, and unemployment is over 10 percent. But can Erdogan’s opponents topple him? The Millet Alliance (Nation), a coalition of parties, is the main opposition group. He has yet to decide on a presidential candidate. Another opposition group is the Freedom and Labor Alliance, which is led by the People’s Democratic Party, the main political party of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. The great risk is that the opposition coalitions divide the vote. If no candidate wins a majority in the June elections, the two leading candidates will meet two weeks later in a runoff. Erdoğan can manipulate alleged foreign policy threats, especially from Greece, to garner support for his re-election.
Pakistani general election, no later than October 12, 2023. Pakistan is in crisis. In April 2022, Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former cricket star, lost a vote of no confidence in parliament, continuing a streak in which no Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term. Khan, however, did not go quietly. Instead, he led his supporters in a series of protest marches in the capital Islamabad seeking to oust his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. In November, Khan was wounded in a failed assassination attempt. He blamed Sharif and senior military officials for the attack. Meanwhile, Pakistan is facing numerous economic crises. It is mired in debt, struggling to generate enough electricity to run its economy and reeling from epic floods that submerged a third of the country. Against that backdrop, Pakistani voters are set to go to the polls no later than mid-October next year to elect a new parliament, though Khan is demanding that Sharif call early elections. The main contending political parties are: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement), which is led by Khan; the Pakistan Muslim League, led by Sharif and his brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; and the social democratic Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), headed by Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Khan performed well in the October by-election, giving him momentum going into 2023. Violence and vote rigging have marred past Pakistani elections and could threaten the 2023 election. Whichever party wins, he will be very busy trying to tackle Pakistan’s many problems.
Argentine General Elections, October 29. Argentina is one of two dozen democracies that make voting compulsory. Next October, Argentines will vote for president, members of both chambers of their National Congress and governors of most provinces. Three coalitions currently dominate Argentine politics: the center-left Frente de Todos (“Frente de Todos”); Together for Change, center-right; and the populist-libertarian La Libertad Avanza (“Freedom Move Forward”). Current Argentine President Alberto Fernández of the Frente de Todos says he will seek re-election. But he may face challenges within his own coalition. Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was president from 2007 to 2015, has hinted that she will run. But just this month she was convicted on corruption charges, sentenced to six years in jail and disqualified from holding public office. Sergio Massa, the current Minister of Economy, can also throw his hat into the ring. Several senior members of Together for Change are competing for their coalition’s nomination. Libertad Avanza will likely nominate Javier Milei, an economist-turned-politician who raffles his legislative salary every month to protest what he calls government theft. Milei’s attacks on the Argentine ruling class have led to comparisons with Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro. Milei has vowed, if he is elected, to steer clear of left-wing ideas and develop closer ties with the United States. Argentina requires its winning presidential candidate to get 45 percent of the vote, or 40 percent with a 10 percent lead over the next closest candidate. Otherwise, the top two vote winners will go to a runoff. Sky-high inflation will be a major campaign issue.
Bangladeshi general election, December 2023. Bangladesh’s democracy has an unusual feature. In their general elections, voters elect three hundred members to their unicameral national parliament. Those three hundred members in turn vote exclusively for women to fill the remaining fifty seats in parliament. This two-step process is intended to ensure that women are represented. The entire parliament then elects a prime minister, who rules the country, and a president, who serves primarily as a ceremonial figure. Bangladesh effectively functions as a two-party system. On one side is the ruling Grand Alliance, which is a coalition of left-leaning political parties led by the Awami League. On the other side is the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which as its name suggests, espouses a nationalist agenda. The recent elections in Bangladesh have been marred by corruption and violence. The 2023 elections may offer more of the same. Just this month, police arrested hundreds of BNP supporters who demonstrated in the capital city of Dhaka to demand that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed resign due to rising inflation and what they see as the politically motivated conviction of the BNP leader Khaleda Zia on corruption charges. Hasina has been prime minister since 2009 and has used heavy-handed tactics to suppress her opponents. So far, she has rejected calls to hand over power to an interim government to monitor new elections, which are due to be held no later than December 31, 2023. Bangladesh has a new Election Commission tasked with administering free and fair elections. It could play a critical role in determining whether democracy will flourish or erode in Bangladesh.
2022 in review
Politic and government
elections and voting
Sinet Adous, Elia Ching, John David Cobb and Margaret Gach contributed to the preparation of this publication.
Other posts in this series:
Ten elections to follow in 2022
Ten elections to follow in 2021
Ten choices to watch in 2020
Ten choices to watch in 2019
Ten choices to watch in 2018
Ten choices to watch in 2017
Ten elections to watch in 2016
Ten elections to watch in 2015
Ten elections to watch in 2014