11 Apr

Map of the Week: Elections Around the World in 2024

By: Alexandra Kicior

Billions of people around the world will cast ballots in local, regional, legislative, and presidential elections in 2024. Elections offer a time for radical political transformations to occur, including for example, an opportunity for developing democracies to take hold. At the same time, however, they may serve as a means for well-established, powerful regimes to keep their strength. In an era of political upheaval, any of these elections – regardless of scale – could add to heightened geopolitical tensions around the world. 

More than 80 countries are gearing up for elections or have already begun holding them. Globally, more voters than ever in history will head to the polls as at least 64 countries (and the European Union) are meant to hold elections, which will prove consequential for years to come. These numbers represent 49% – nearly half – of the world’s population. The results of these elections will have profound implications for human rights, economies, international relations, and overall prospects for peace. In some countries, the balloting will be neither free nor fair. Limits on opposite candidates, weary electorate, and the potential for manipulation and disinformation have made the fate of democracy in certain countries a rather pressing issue. 

A rematch between President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump is front-and-center in the election calendar; a victorious Trump in November is perhaps the greatest global wildcard, adding yet another layer of uncertainty to the world’s political landscape. Also in North America, Mexico’s upcoming presidential election is shaping up to be the largest, and possibly most chaotic, in the country’s history. Mexicans are expected to elect a woman as president for the first time. 

In the European Union, there will be an election for the 720-seat European Parliament, which is held over four days in 27 countries. This election is generally considered an important gauge of political trends across Europe. Also within the European continent, Slovakia has just held a presidential election representing an important vote, as the current president and prime minister represent opposing political parties. In Lithuania, the Lithuanian Christian Democrats, a center-right group and the current dominant party, could lose out to the social democrats. Polls suggest that in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party, which has held power for 14 years, may be on course for a significant loss against the left-wing Labour Party. 

In India, Prime Minister Narenda Modi, a divisive political figure who has exacerbated the already sensitive religious and ethnic fault lines in an incredibly diverse country, is seeking a third term. Given the scale of the vote, which is set to take place in phases, the election has been described as the biggest peacetime logistical exercise anywhere. Sri Lanka is holding its first presidential election since a popular uprising overthrew the government in 2022.

In Panama, the Panama Canal is likely to be a key issue in the election, especially as it has been the center of national protests and environmental issues. Venezuela’s presidential elections follow negotiations with the United States to put the country back on a democratic path. However, with the top opposition candidate banned from running, it is rather unlikely that the race will be free and fair. 

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress party could lose its parliamentary majority in the election in May. This would be the party’s first loss since the fall of apartheid 30 years ago. President Paul Kagame in Rwanda is running for a fourth term after winning three elections with more than 90 percent of the vote. He led Rwanda out of genocide, but has since exercised extreme control over the country. Chad will be holding its first presidential election since Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno seized power after the death of his father in 2021.