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  • UCL Diplomacy Society

We The People – November’s Other Elections by Sam Fowler

The recent US presidential election has naturally garnered global headlines and attention. The US’ great power and influence has ensured that every element of campaigning, polling, voting and counting has been followed in great detail abroad. But the US was not the only country to go to the polls in past weeks, and several more elections are still to come in November. By the end of the month, there will have been 12 elections across seven continents, affecting over 400 million people. All this doesn’t include the US. These votes will receive nothing close to the same attention as the American election. However, complaints of voter fraud and partiality echo in many of these countries just as they do from President Trump.

Tanzania’s CCM party swept presidential and parliamentary elections again. Their candidate, incumbent president John Magufuli, was deemed by the National Electoral Commission to have won 84% of the vote – gaining 10 million more votes than the leading opposition candidate. This marks the beginning of Magufuli’s second term, but his CCM party and its predecessor have held power since independence in 1961. The opposition has raised concerns of widespread electoral fraud, especially regarding tampering with ballot boxes and the exclusion of opposition poll observers. Several high profile arrests have been made of opposition members calling for the vote to be rerun. Fears are also rising that Magufuli could use his supermajority in the Tanzanian Parliament to reform the constitution, perhaps even returning the country to a period where the CCM was the only legal party.

Results continue to trickle in from Myanmar’s general election, but consensus suggests that Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling NLD party is likely to expand its governing majority. 2020 marks only the second set of democratic elections in Myanmar (the other being in 2015) since the military, which governed the country in a dictatorship for decades, began to withdraw from a civilian government in 2011. The military still appoints around a quarter of the parliament’s seats and is understood to want to maintain at least some influence in the civilian sphere. Suu Kyi has acted as the country’s leader since her NLD party’s landslide victory in 2015, and the UK and EU have praised this second election as an essential step forward towards full democracy in the south Asian country. An enlarged majority could even provide the NLD with the parliamentary supermajority needed further to reduce the military’s constitutional and political control. The likely landslide is seen as domestic recognition of Aung San Suu Kyi as Myanmar’s legitimate leader. Still, the disenfranchisement of Rohingya Muslims on citizenship grounds prevented them from voting, drawing continued international criticism.

Finally, Egyptians have just gone to the polls in the second round of voting for seats in the lower house, with a majority of legislators almost certain to be loyal to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Allegations are rife both internationally and within Egypt that only approved el-Sisi supporters are being allowed to run for positions. El-Sisi has dominated Egypt since he took power in a military coup in 2013 and became president in 2014. The broad suppression of the opposition has created a new political class loyal to the regime. Despite this, low turnout threatens to undermine any credibility el-Sisi tries to claim; the first round of voting at the end of October saw only 28% of eligible voters cast their ballots. Regardless, there is little doubt over what the ultimate results will be once final run-off votes have concluded in December.


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