With the U.S. election finally over, it’s entirely possible that some poll junkies are already looking for their next fix. While some may be jumping ahead to the 2014 midterms, or even the 2016 Presidential race, an easier solution would be to look at the multitude of elections coming up around the world. According to the National Democratic Institute’s 2012-2013 election calendar, there are still plenty of races to keep an eye on while the U.S. settles down.
Japan currently doesn’t have elections officially scheduled, though they must be held no later than May 2013. But in August 2011, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda promised that elections would be held “soon.” Since then, Noda has said that he is in no hurry to open the polls, fearing a “political vacuum” in the run-up to the vote and facing a fiscal cliff of its own at the end of November.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party is particularly interested in having the chance for his party to reclaim control of the Cabinet given unpopularity of the Democratic Party of Japan in opinion polls. No matter who wins the eventual election, both Abe and Noda are signaling that a more muscular foreign policy may be ahead for Japan.
The Republic of Korea’s Presidential race will conclude on Dec. 19. Leading the polls is Park Geun-hye, heading the Saenuri, or New Frontier Party. Park is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, who held power for sixteen years following a 1961 military coup and his election in 1963. Park has defended her father’s actions in the past, saying “I don’t think it’s the place of politicians to be fighting over whether [Park's rise to power was] a ‘coup d’etat’ or a ‘revolution.”
Park’s main competitors, Moon Jae-in, nominated to head the Democratic United Party following the end of current President Lee Myung-bak’s term, and independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo merged campaigns recently. Park is seeking to keep pressure on the duo though by pledging to ease Lee’s hardline stance against North Korea, even indicating that she’d be willing to meet with new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Israel will be choosing members of the 19th Knesset on Jan. 22, 2013. Israeli lawmakers voted on Oct. 16 to dissolve and move elections up from October 2013. In a surprise move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avadgor Lieberman then announced the merger of their two parties as the new Likud Beiteinu.
Many experts have said it’s nearly impossible for the center and left-wing parties in Israel win, though Netanyahu’s new party may not wield quite as much power as currently thought. However, it’s unclear what a dominant Likud Beiteninu means for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and it looks like more heated rhetoric toward Iran is on the horizon.
Iran won’t be holding its presidential election until June 2013, but it’s worth it to starting to watch now. The race to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yet to solidify into solid candidates, but speculation is already occurring. Some believe that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, an ally of Ahmadinejad, may be being groomed to take over in 2013, despite Mashaei’s run-in with conservatives. Ali Akbar Velayati, former Foreign Minister of Iran, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. Velayati has the advantage of having Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s ear and a history of work on difficult negotiations.
Whatever the result , the un-elected Khamenei holds the real power in the Islamic Republic. While Ahmadinejad has already started to feel the effect of his lame-duck status, whomever wins in June won’t wield the power that many associate with so high an office.
The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress is kicking-off and in a completely choreographed event, over two thousand delegates will come together to begin the process that ends with current Vice President Xi Jinping being named the party’s leader and thus head of state. These delegates — who are not democratically elected — will still cast votes for those who eventually will winnow down to the either seven or nine members that will form the Politburo Standing Committee, the head of the country.
The Congress will also decide who sits on the Central Military Commission and amend the Party’s Constitution. All told, the Congress will usher in a new generation of Chinese leaders, though the previous may still seek a large role in determining China’s direction.