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International Elections and Leaders: August 2017 Update

Road work is undertaken next to a campaign poster for Kenya's National Super Alliance (NASA) candidate Raila Odinga. Elections are August 8. Photo: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

The REIGN Dataset (Rulers, Elections, and Irregular Governance) covers political conditions in every country each and every month. We update the dataset monthly to reflect the most recent political events, such as coups, world elections, and changes in political leadership. We provide monthly election coverage and track leadership changes in a series of updates called “International Elections and Leaders.”

July had a near-empty election calendar, with major executive or general elections taking place only in Mongolia and Papua New Guinea. In Mongolia, an unprecedented second round of presidential voting brought an opposition leader to power. In Papua New Guinea, a parliamentary election ended on July 8 after a two week-long voting period. Official results have not yet been announced.

Worldwide, elections will accelerate in the next couple of months. Rwanda, Kenya, and Angola go to the polls in August to elect presidents. The election in Rwanda is hardly competitive, as longtime President Paul Kagame has stifled opposition during his run for a third term. The election in Angola will be more interesting because after 37 years in power, incumbent President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos decided not to seek another term. A contentious vote will take place in Kenya on August 8. Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta is running against opposition candidate Raila Odinga, amid fears of electoral fraud and violence.

International Elections

For the first time in the country’s history, Mongolia’s presidential election went to a second round of voting. After an inconclusive result on June 26, a second round was held on July 7. The election brought victory to Khaltmaagiin Battulga, a candidate from the nationalist center-right Democratic Party. He defeated Enkhbold Miyeegombo of the incumbent Mongolian People’s Party with more than 50% of the vote.

The new president will have to execute on an IMF loan provided to the government amid an economic crisis. The country received a $5.5 billion aid package in May after mineral resource prices plummeted last year. The commodities bust depleted the government’s budget and stalled double-digit GDP growth not seen since 2011. Revitalizing the mining sector and redefining relations with China—the primary importer of Mongolian goods—are at the top of the new president’s agenda.

Events to Watch in August

A two week-long voting process came to a close in Papua New Guinea on July 8.  Results of the election have been announced in some provinces, but a national announcement has been delayed to accommodate recounts in parts of the country. The election has been mired by corruption, unrest, and accusations of sorcery, especially in remote parts of the nation. The ruling People’s National Congress party is expected to win the vote, with Peter O’Neill likely being reelected as prime minister. With the election results delayed, an official confirmation is expected in August.

Coalition-building continues in Kosovo after a snap election on June 11. A nationalist Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK)-led coalition won 34% of the votes. Another nationalist party, Vetëvendosje, won 27%. The PDK has been leading coalition talks, but with no success so far. President Hashim Thaci called for parliament to hold its first session on August 3however, a coalition is unlikely to be formed by that time.

A presidential election will take place in Rwanda on August 4. Incumbent President Paul Kagame was allowed to run for a third term by a constitutional referendum passed in 2015. He is expected to win the vote, with the opposition having little chance at garnering meaningful support.

A presidential election will also take place in Angola on August 23. The incumbent President Eduardo Jose Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, announced to the surprise of many late last year that he will not be competing in the election. His party, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), designated Joao Lourenco, the minister of defense and a party veteran, as its presidential candidate. He is favored to win the election. The MPLA won more than 70% of the vote in 2012.

A third presidential election in August will take place in Kenya. In a contentious vote already divided along ethnic lines, opposition candidate Raila Odinga is running against incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta. International observers are concerned about the possibility of violence erupting around election day. A decade ago, more than 1,000 people died in election-related riots and protests. Current polls predict a tight race.

Interested in more election coverage? Visit the REIGN Dataset page, or read the most recent update on international elections and leaders.