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Elections all over the show

  Cii News | 29 April 2014/28 Jumadal Ukhra 1435

Elections are underway in India where polls take place in nine phases and over a five-week period to cater for the more than half a billion voters in almost a million polling stations spanning this densely-populated country. India’s 2014 general elections, which commenced on April 7, are scheduled to conclude on May 12.

Pundits call this year’s election a two-horse race between the incumbent Congress party, now led by Rahul Gandhi – great-grandson to Mahatma Gandhi, modern India’s founding father – and Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party. However, neither of these is expected to walk away with a simple majority. This could then mean that a coalition government is on the cards with possibly whoever gets the largest slice and several other parties.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesians are to elect a new head of state in July. Having already served two five-year terms, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is making way for a newcomer this year.

South Africa holds its fifth democratic elections on May 7. Here, the ruling ANC is arguably facing its toughest test since it assumed power in 1994 under the anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela. Officially, ANC leaders predict to a two-thirds majority – or thereabout – in line with the party’s track record. However, this is barely likely given the current state of affairs with some veterans openly urging the electorate to desert their movement on May 7.

While the Democratic Alliance could retain its status as the official opposition, many emerging new voices threaten to trim its and the ANC’s share. The Julius Malema-led Economic Freedom Fighters is the most promising new outfit and could just grab some of the votes from the country’s two largest parties. AgangSA, the Workers and Socialist Party, Equal Rights Party, Patriotic Alliance are some of the new kids on the block while old parties include African Muslim Party, Al Jama’ah, Azanian People’s Organisation, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party and Pan Africanist Movement.

On May 20, Malawians will get their turn of what’s termed tripartite polls – which will enable them to elect ward councilors, MPs and the State President. While the incumbent President Joyce Banda is likely to retain her job, Peter Mutharika (whose late brother Bingu wa Mutharika was succeeded by Banda) is also seen as a serious contender alongside the United Democratic Front’s Atupele Muluzi.

The Egyptians, in the throes of a coup d’etat regime for the past 10 months, are also expected to go to the polls at the end of next month but many activists dismiss the vote as a sham crafted to give credibility to an illegitimate rule by army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – one of the contenders in the imminent elections.

Further afield, while the Hungarians concluded their 2014 parliamentary elections just last week, the Belgium are to hold federal polls in May while Romanians will in November elect a new president when incumbent Traian Băsescu steps down after spending 10 years at the helm. With presidential elections done and dusted in the Slovak Republic and Serbia, the neighbouring Ukraine is set for its turn on May 25.

In South America, Brazilians and Uruguayans will hold their respective general elections towards the end of 2014. Meanwhile in the Pacific, Fiji, which suffered a coup in 2006, will hold democratic elections in September. In the nearby island nations New Zealand and Tonga, voters will also get to exercise their universal franchise right this year.

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