While 2022 will undoubtedly be a significant year in American politics, with Congressional mid-terms and state legislative elections occurring in November, it is also shaping up to be a banner year for elections across the globe. Partially due to delays caused by COVID, and partially just a coincidence of the many election calendars at play, 2022 will see over a billion people go to the polls worldwide to elect presidents, members of parliament, representatives and senators, as well as numerous regional, state and local legislators. We have highlighted a short selection of some of the more notable electoral contests of 2022 below.
South Korea (March) - Presidential
South Korea’s restrictive presidential term limits (one five-year term) mean that incumbent Moon Jae-in will be stepping aside in May, with South Koreans heading to the polls in early March to choose his successor. Unfortunately, South Korean politics has not been spared the divisive rhetoric and jarring personal attacks that have become increasingly common in Western politics in recent years. The the two leading candidates Lee Jae-myung (Democratic Party) and Yoon Seok-youl (People Power Party) are engaged in a bitter fight marred by accusations of scandal and corruption. It is likely that Lee would continue Moon’s preference for a friendly but muted relationship with the U.S., while Yoon has been considerably more outspoken about strengthening the south’s ties with the U.S. and other western partners. As of this writing, polls have the two contenders virtually neck and neck.
France (April 10) - Presidential
April will see the first round of voting in France’s presidential election. Incumbent Emmanuel Macron will be facing a handful of challengers, most notably his rival from the 2017 election, Marine Le Pen, president of the right-wing National Rally party and Valérie Pécresse, president of the Île-de-France regional council and member of the center-right The Republicans party. Macron, although possessing a comfortable lead in recent polls, is unlikely to achieve a majority victory in the first round, meaning that a second round on April 24 will be required to determine the winner of the contest.
Australia (May) - Legislative
Australians will head to the polls in May to elect all 151 seats of the House of Representatives and over half of the Senate seats. Despite Australia’s legislative branch largely mirroring the U.S. Congress in both structure and function, its executive branch mimics the Westminster model with the leader of the governing party in parliament also fulfilling the role of the executive. Incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be looking to win a fourth term in office and maintain the governing coalition of the Liberal and National parties. Labor, the primary opposition party led by Anthony Albanese will be looking to recoup majority status for the first time in a decade.
Kenya (Aug. 9) – Executive, Legislative and Regional
With elections taking place at every level of Kenya’s still relatively young democracy this August, Kenyans will be hopeful that this year’s voting is not accompanied by the scourge of violence that has marred nearly every electoral cycle since 1992. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is ineligible to run for another term, surprised many by backing longtime rival Raila Odinga for the presidency over his own Deputy President, William Ruto. At the regional level, seats in all 47 county assemblies will be up for election, as Kenya continues its devolutionary efforts as laid out in the 2010 constitution.
Brazil (Oct. 2) - Executive, Legislative and Regional
A little over a month before Americans head to the polls, citizens of the second largest democracy in the Americas will do the same. Despite elections taking place at every level of Brazilian government, including all of the country’s nearly 1,100 state legislative seats and all 27 state governors, the focus both within Brazil and around the world will be on the outcome of the presidential race. Incumbent Jair Bolsanaro, who has garnered international attention due to his ardent right-wing nationalism, is most notably challenged by former president Lula da Silva. As of writing, Lula has a lead of more than 20 points in the polls over Bolsanaro. Considering Brazil's influence in South America, both politically and economically, the outcome of this race will may lasting implications for the health of democracy in the continent for years to come.