Around the world in a series of elections

By now, you will have doubtless multiple times come across something to do with the UK’s general election. Be it the blasting of Labour’s 1997 anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, scrolling to find your TikTok feed filled with a meme war between key parties, or having had a series of campaigners from across the spectrum show up at your front door. The first major political event that many of our generation get to actively partake in seems to have dominated the media lately, which is only fair seeing as the fallout will impact the lives of so many for the next decade and beyond. But, it may be reassuring to learn, the UK isn’t going through this process alone; 2024 is a year marked by drastic political change in much of the major powers, and this article will explore just a few of these.

Perhaps the first election we should cover is Russia, the results of which were about as unsurprising as could be. Putin swept his fifth term with 87% of the vote, securing his position in power until 2030, from which he can extend his time in power until 2036. The president first came to office in 1999, and so if he completes his term will overtake Stalin as Russia’s longest serving leader in more than 200 years. He faced little challenge from his competitors, given that many were either in exile or dead at the time of election, and is unlikely to be ousted from power anytime soon. This means we can expect a continued hostile attitude towards Ukraine, and his blatant violations of certain democratic procedures may set a precedent for Russian leaders to come to follow in his footsteps.

It is worth at least mentioning the recent Mexican election, which has seen the victory of the country’s first female leader. In early June, Claudia Sheinbaum was elected with between 58 and 60% of the vote. The former mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum ran her campaign on tackling Mexican cartels and gang violence, as well as improving relations with their neighbour of the US. Her endorsement from the former Mexican president Lopez Obrador, who is widely popular largely due to his eliminating poverty campaigns, significantly aided her victory, and we can only wait to see what reforms the former climate scientist, left-wing new president enacts during her time in power.  

Next, we come to India, in which election results are still being finalised. At the time of this article, Modi has secured another term as Prime Minister, but the BJP has lost its outright majority for the first time in a decade. The INDIA alliance (the opposition coalition) has performed much better than predicted, having achieved 232 seats, and so not falling far short of the Modi’s NDA bloc’s 292. Modi’s decade in power so far has seen him as a controversial figure: his supporters point to the incredible economic growth India has experienced under him (in 2023 7.6%, one of the highest globally.) However, he has repeatedly faced the criticism that this growth is uneven – millions are suffering in extreme poverty while the richest few percent are multiplying their luxuries. A recent World Inequality Lab Report found that India’s top 1% own 40% of the wealth in the country, all the while many of the less affluent have been facing a chronic lack of employment opportunities. One study suggests that over 90% of Indian workers are employed in the informal sector, a figure which leaves many open to more exploitative working conditions, lack of guaranteed income etc… He also faces the accusation of letting Islamophobia run rampant: in his time in power, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on Muslims, and anti-Muslim hate speech has soared.

Another ongoing election during this period of great upheaval is of the European Parliament, which is taking place over the next few days. The voting spans 27 countries, and 720 MEPs will be elected. The recent surge in far-right ideology across Europe (demonstrated by the rise in popularity of figures such as Wilders in the Netherlands, Meloni in Italy and Le Pen in France) is likely to be reflected in this election as currently only four EU states have centre left or left-wing parties in power.

Finally, this article would not have done its duty without touching on the upcoming November US election which will feature a rematch of the 2020 competition between Joe Biden and Donald trump. Astonishingly, Trump’s being found guilty under 34 counts of fraud under campaign finance laws has not determined the outcome of this election, and Trump still possesses a 2% lead. Both figures have been majorly controversial, with Biden being accused of facilitating the ongoing genocide in Palestine, and Trump being charged with an assault on democracy for his role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol which attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.


Image: Jeff on Flickr

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