More than 40 national elections are scheduled for 2024, involving more than 40% of the global population. The calendar includes January elections in Taiwan, where the Democratic Progressive Party's William Lai won earlier this week and runs to the US presidential election in November.
All polls will be held against a backdrop of global crises, tensions and wars, deepening the political divide and increasing the potential for disruption.
General elections in South Africa could potentially trigger a political earthquake in the country. The African National Congress (ANC) could lose its dominant position for the first time since Apartheid ended in 1994. Opposition parties, particularly the Democratic Alliance, are now more popular.
In the UK, a general election is likely this year, ahead of the Conservative government’s mandate running out in January 2025. Britain has seen two prime ministers assume office without a general election in just over a year, and a full vote is expected before the end of 2024.
Mexico’s presidential election is due in June. Two female candidates will be in contention for the presidency, breaking down gender barriers in the country’s politics.
In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term ends, setting up crucial elections during his country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.
Israel’s political landscape could become increasingly tumultuous — especially while it continues its war on Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to continue fighting despite growing international condemnation. He faces an uncertain electoral future while the war intensifies the demand for elections.
Pakistan and Bangladesh, known for their volatility and unpredictability, are also scheduled to hold elections this year, and Iran is set to hold parliamentary elections.
The big three
Russia: An imperial coronation
President Vladimir Putin has laid the groundwork for elections that seem certain to secure him a fifth term. It is shaping up more like an imperial coronation for the veteran leader, often dubbed the Russian Tsar. With Putin’s tenure nearing 25 years, his consistently high approval ratings are partly because many Russians have not experienced another leader.
India: New opposition coalition
In India, the world’s largest democracy, the spring elections are shaping up to be unpredictable. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, eyeing a third term, faces formidable opposition from the newly formed 28-party coalition, the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). It challenges Modi’s long-held dominance.
United States: A veteran faceoff
November’s vote will likely see two veteran politicians face off in one of the most consequential elections in US history. Should former President Donald Trump defeat President Joe Biden, the implications could be far-reaching. A Trump victory could transform the US and alter the international order permanently.