Elections in 2024: A global summary

Author: Karoli Ssemogerere. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Russia’s strategy combines immigration, annexation and projection of military power that has the world’s most conflict prone continent Europe on its toes.

In 2024, the world’s biggest democracies have or are going to the polls. At the top of the list is India, the world’s most populous country having overtaken China in 2022. India has 1.4 billion people. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking an unprecedented third term. 

The right wing pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party has eclipsed its center left India Congress Party; the party of the Gandhi’s who dominated India’s rise into a modern nation in India’s juggernaut politics. In the lower house Lok Sabha, BJP holds more than 290 seats while Congress Party holds just 47 seats. 

In Pakistan, supporters of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in jail after falling out with the military, became the largest party in the National Assembly, winning 97 seats ahead of pro-military former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Pakistan Muslim League. Mr Sharif will lead a minority government in coalition with his former rivals, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the party of the Prime Ministers Zulfiker and Benazir Bhutto. 

At the beginning of the year in Bangladesh the third successor country of the former Indian Empire also held elections returning Sheikh Hasina Wazed to power. Sheikh Hasina is a daughter of Bangladesh’s founding Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

The Indian peninsula has everyone’s eyes rolling, it is home to 2 nuclear powers. The world’s highest mountain, the Himalaya range, biggest river, the Ganges are all here. Most importantly it is next door to China whose dominant story of the second half of the 20th century has been muted somewhat by deteriorating demographics, internal discord and the aftermath of Covid-19.  Greater India is home to all extremes; weather, ideology, wealth and skills. 

Further north, in Russia. Vladimir Putin is expected to coast to a fresh 5 year- term in elections in March. Mr. Putin is on a charm offensive to boost Russia’s flagging population. The world’s largest country in terms of territory remains resource rich, and lightly populated. Russia’s strategy combines immigration, annexation and projection of military power that has the world’s most conflict prone continent Europe on its toes. 

In the last decade, Mr. Putin has invaded Ukraine twice, annexed Chechnya, and sponsored many proxy wars in its area of influence. In the last 10 years, Mr Putin has made further plays inside the United States that have shaken the US political system. The Americans too are going to the polls.

One wishes they borrowed our age limit provision in the constitution which we threw away without resale value in 2018. A damaging report into mishandling of classified information by Special Counsel Robert Hur described President Joe Biden, 81 as an elderly well meaning gentleman who had significant memory lapses. 

Mr Biden makes Ronald Reagan who ascended the presidency at age 68 in 1980 an image of eternal youth. His rival Donald Trump, 77 facing 91 indicted on 91 counts in different courts is testing both the political and judicial system at the same time. He is promising more authoritarianism and less democracy if re-elected.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must call a general election by December 2024. The Prime Minister has flourished at the dispatch box, but struggled to overcome the image his opponents have painted him as “too rich”. He and his wife are worth an eye-popping estimated GBP 529 million, not far from Mr. Trump. 

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa may see the ruling African National Congress fall below a two thirds majority in the National Assembly. His predecessor Jacob Zuma has been suspended from the party and promised to run on a new rump ticket. 

Ghana, a speck of stability in West Africa, will also hold elections in December 2024.Ghana has respected the two-term presidential limit introduced at the return of multiparty elections and has operated with a hung parliament. Battered by an unstable economy and approaching a fiscal cliff, Ghanaians may choose the alternative option at the ballot box. 

Nearer home, Rwanda will hold its elections in July, starting a new five-year presidential term system replacing the seven-year system. No change until 2034. Elections still remain very popular, even though the outcomes themselves mean less democracy.

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]