International Elections and Leaders: December 2018 Update

Ex-presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana will contest Madagascar’s second round of the 2018 presidential election. Ravalomanana was ousted in 2009 by military coup and replaced with Rajoelina.

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

International Elections

Two elections to determine executive authority occurred in November. Madagascar held the first round of its presidential election on November 7th. Incumbent candidate Hery Rajaonarimampianina came in third place with 8 percent of the vote, losing out in the first round. Former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana will contest the second round in December. Alongside a surprising incumbent loss, Madagascar’s 2018 election has been mired in controversy. Both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana were previously banned from seeking office due to their perceived roles in stoking the political violence and instability that resulted from the 2009 military coup against Ravalomanana. Rajoelina, who was installed as president following the 2009 coup, recently made claims that Ravalomanana has engaged in vote-buying and rigging.

Fiji held its long-anticipated general election on November 14th. The incumbent FijiFirst party led by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama received 50 percent of the vote and retained its hold over the nation’s parliament. The Social Democratic Liberal Party, the main opposition in Fiji, gained six seats, and overall female representation in Fiji’s parliament rose to 20 percent. The results suggest the ruling FijiFirst party may find that future elections will be more difficult to win as the opposition progressively makes electoral gains.

New Leaders

Three new executive leaders took office in the month of November. In Bhutan, Lotay Tshering was sworn in as prime minister on November 7th. In the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was sworn in as president on the 17th. Solih has promised to build up fragile democratic norms and to reverse course from the perceived undemocratic behaviors of his predecessor, which included the detention of opposition leaders and a crackdown on political demonstration. Finally, the chairperson of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotated to Serbian representative Milorad Dodik. Dodik, a candidate known for advocating Serbian secession, has been accused of wanting to realign Bosnian Serbs with Russia and opposes membership in the EU and NATO. Dodik’s ascension may prove a challenge to the power-sharing ideals of the Dayton Peace Accords, and he has attacked the authority of the high representative who oversees the implementation of the agreement.

Events to Watch in December

In December, several important election events are set to take place. In Africa, Madagascar will hold its second round of the presidential election on December 19th in the shadow of vote-rigging allegations. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is set to have its presidential election on December 23rd, after two years of delays. Incumbent Joseph Kabila previously agreed to step aside but has remained in a caretaker role since his second term expired in late 2016. Keep a close eye on the DRC, as the central African state has not seen a peaceful transfer of political authority since independence in 1960 and faces ongoing political violence in the form of an entrenched insurgency and electoral violence between party supporters. Togo will hold a constitutional referendum on December 16th. The referendum would reintroduce the two-term limit on the presidency and reform the electoral process for selecting the president-elect. The vote is mired in controversy, as the political opposition has chosen to boycott the referendum after accusing the incumbent Gnassingbe of attempting to influence the electoral process and not retroactively applying the potential two-term limit to his current tenure.

In South Asia, Bangladesh is set to hold its general election on December 30th. Bangladesh has a history of election-related violence, and opposition parties have been distrustful of the ruling Awami League that has been in power for over a decade. There is only unreliable data about public opinion in the lead-up to the election, and it will be important to keep an eye on the process in the following weeks.

Finally, Armenia will hold a snap election on December 9th. The early election was called by Armenia’s parliament following several failed attempts to approve a new prime minister.


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