International Elections and Leaders: January 2018 Update

Honduras Election Aftermath
Supporters of presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, Salvador Nasralla, take part in protest against reelection of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa. Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Image

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.”

The final month of 2017 brought notable political developments to nearly every region. Elections will bring new political parties to power in Chile and Nepal, three European countries will begin 2018 with new leaders, and Africa’s only scheduled election finally occurred after a seven-week delay. Here’s a summary of global elections and leader changes in December 2017.

International Elections

Honduras continues to suffer violence and repression following a disputed presidential election that kept the incumbent, President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in power for another term. In spite of widespread irregularities and some evidence of fraud, both Mexico and the United States have recognized the result and momentum seems to have shifted away from further recounts or election nullification.

Latin America’s other major election occurred in Chile, where the second round of the presidential election delivered a comfortable nine-point victory for former president Sebastian Pinera. Pinera will be inaugurated in March 2018. Chile’s last five presidential elections have placed a new political party in power. This victory means power will have alternated between just two leaders---Michelle Bachelet and Sebastian Pinera---for four consecutive terms (2006 – 2022).

After a seven-week delay in the courts, the presidential election in Liberia is back on track. The second round of voting occurred on 26 December. The contenders, soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai are vying to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This run-off was Africa’s only major election this month.

And finally, the general election in Nepal ended with a sweeping victory for a two-party communist alliance. Votes are still being counted, but it appears Nepal will see a strong leftward shift when the new government forms.

New Leaders

Three central European countries will enter 2018 with new leaders. Sebastian Kurz and Andrej Babis now lead Austria and the Czech Republic, respectively. Both men ran successful populist anti-immigration campaigns. In Switzerland, the presidency rotated to Alain Berset for the one-year term that begins 1 January 2018. When he replaces Doris Leuthard, Switzerland will be one of at least three countries to lose female leaders in the first quarter of 2018 (the others are Chile and Liberia).

Events to Watch in January

December run-offs resolved many of the open questions we had a month ago, but we’re continuing to watch several developing situations around the world. Egypt, Barbados, and Grenada have yet to set election timelines, though elections are due in the first half of 2018 in each of these countries. In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma’s continued leadership is in question with many members of his party publically calling for a premature end to this term in office. Juan Orlando Hernandez seems to be entrenched in power in Honduras, but continued political violence could force him to call new elections. And finally, we’ll continue to monitor the formation of new governments in Nepal and Zimbabwe.

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