International Elections and Leaders: June 2017 Update

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani was reelected President of Iran in May. Photo credit: Meghdad Madadi

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.”

For many, this month in world elections has restored belief in liberalism and democracy. In May, elections happened in France, South Korea, Iran, and the Bahamas. Three of these countries chose progressive liberal leaders. Macron defeated right-wing Marine Le Pen in France. Liberal Moon Jae-in was elected in South Korea after a decade of conservative rule. Moderate reformer Rouhani ran against a hardliner and was reelected in Iran.

June will decide even more leadership transitions: seven elections are scheduled to occur over the next month around the world. Parliamentary elections will take place in the UK, Albania, Kosovo, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea. Presidential elections will happen in Lebanon and Mongolia.

International Elections

Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the presidential election in France on May 7, defeating right-wing Marine Le Pen. Macron was an investment banker and a minister in the President Hollande’s center-left administration.  In the run up to the election, he distanced himself from Hollande by establishing his own party and designating himself as a centrist. Observers are hopeful that he will be able to strengthen the EU and bring France together after a divisive election, which saw over 30% of the country vote for a right-wing candidate.

Voters elected liberal Moon Jae-in as president in South Korea on May 9, ending years of conservative leadership in the country. The early election ended months of political turmoil following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. Throughout his campaign, Moon Jae-in advocated for a softer approach towards North Korea, and relative improvement of relations between two countries. Critics argue that this policy might clash with the current tough stance on North Korea by the USA. However, the approach could also put South Korea back to the center of decision-making around global policy towards North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.

Incumbent Hassan Rouhani was reelected as president of Iran on May 19. Rouhani, a moderate reformist, defeated hardline Ebrahim Raisi. The election gives the president a renewed mandate to continue his agenda of opening up Iran to global investors and reviving the economy. But, Raisi is likely to remain an important figure in Iran’s leadership as a possible successor to Ali Khamemei as the supreme leader.

Hubert Munnis became the fourth prime minister of the Bahamas after a vote on May 10. The incumbent Progressive Liberal Party was decisively defeated by the opposition Free National Movement, which secured 35 out of 39 seats in parliament. Corruption, unemployment, and stalling economy were the main concerns of the voters.

New Leaders

A long-running political stalemate ended in Macedonia, where the parliament voted to confirm Zoran Zaev as prime minister and his cabinet on May 31. The country did not have permanent political leadership since December due to conflict surrounding an early election. The winning party failed to form a coalition, after which the mandate was given to the opposition Social Democratic Party headed by Zaev.  Zaev formed a coalition with ethnic Albanian parties, which was rejected by the president on the ground of undermining Macedonian integrity. After months of talks and protests, the stalemate has been resolved.

Boyko Borisov became a prime minister of Bulgaria for a third time on May 4 with a renewed mandate from the public. Borisov resigned in late 2016 when a candidate form an opposition party, Rumen Radev, won the presidency. An early election in March, however, resulted in the victory of Borisov’s GERB party, putting him back in the PM seat.

Aleksandar Vučić stepped down as the prime minister of Serbia to assume the presidency after he won a presidential election on April 2nd. Ivica Dačić became an acting prime minister and will remain in the role until a legislative election, which has yet to be announced.

Events to Watch in June

June will be a full month for world elections, with three snap elections happening in the UK, Kosovo, and Lesotho, and four planned elections taking place in Albania, Papua New Guinea, Lebanon, and Mongolia. We will also be watching how events unfold in Nepal over the next month.

In Nepal, prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned from his post on May 24. He is likely to be replaced by Sher Bahadur Deuba in accordance to a power sharing agreement between the Nepali Congress Party and Dehal’s Communist Party of Nepal. But, the transition could take time, leaving Nepal in a leadership vacuum amid local elections.

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