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International Elections and Leaders: July 2019 Update

Election Update - Political Forecasting

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.

This update provides a quick overview of electoral and leadership changes for the previous month. For an in-depth examination of election events occurring between May and August, check out our bimonthly analysis providing political context for all election events taking place around the globe.

International Elections

Four elections to determine the new chief executive took place in June.

Europe

Denmark held a general election on June 5th. As expected, the left leaning “red-bloc” won enough seats to form a government. The Social Democrats led by Mette Frederiksen won 48 seats, the most for any single party. The Social Democrats ran on a hybrid platform of policies. They promised to strengthen and invest in the existing social safety net infrastructure while also moving to the right on immigration policy. The strategy appears to have worked with the voters, but it has created tension within the red-bloc coalition.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mauritania held its presidential election on June 22nd. Incumbent president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was not eligible to run, but his chosen successor won the election with a comfortable 52 percent of the vote. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a former general, will likely continue to govern similarly to his predecessor and will take office on August 2nd.

While the election is a peaceful transfer of power, opposition parties have alleged that the election was unfair. It is unlikely that Ghazouani will carry out significant reforms, leaving Mauritanians with a stable albeit flawed democratic system for the foreseeable future.

Americas

Guatemala held a first-round presidential election on June 16th. Perennial challenger Sandra Torres came out on top with 25 percent of the vote, but was unable to avoid a runoff round against second-place finisher Alejandro Giammattei.

The election has been marred by allegations of corruption and numerous candidate disqualifications in the lead-up to the election. Torres was formerly the first lady of Guatemala and became a polarizing political figure when she attempted a presidential run in 2011. She successfully ran in 2015 but narrowly lost to now incumbent president Jimmy Morales.

Stay tuned to Guatemalan politics as a runoff round will take place on August 11th.

Asia

Kazakhstan held its first ever competitive presidential election on June 9th. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the chosen successor of Nazarbayev, won with 70 percent of the vote. While the result is not surprising, this did not stop the opposition from protesting the result.

While many were surprised by Nazarbayev’s resignation, it is suggested that his decision is set to pave the way for his daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva to take over the reins of leadership following Tokayev’s tenure. As a result, the political opposition has accused the ruling elites of using the elections to strengthen the entrenched single-party rule that Kazakhstan has experienced in its post-Soviet existence.

New Leaders

Three new leaders took power in the month of June.

Europe

Mette Frederiksen took over as prime minister of Denmark on June 27th after her red-bloc coalition successfully formed a minority government following coalition talks. Frederiksen is the youngest ever to serve as prime minister and is the second female to do so since the office began in 1848. Frederiksen will seek to reverse austerity measures associated with the previous government’s attempt to reform Denmark’s social safety net. However, Frederiksen will need a deft political hand due to simmering tensions between her more conservative stance on immigration compared to her coalition partners.

Antti Rinne became prime minister of Finland on June 6th after his Social Democratic Party successfully formed a center-left majority government. Rinne formed a broad coalition, so there are unlikely to be major political changes during his tenure. However, it is expected that there will be a push to strengthen Finland’s social safety net while remaining steady on issues of foreign policy.

Americas

President Nayib Bukele assumed office in El Salvador on June 1st. Bukele, a young political star, has deftly used social media to gain support and has called for sweeping governmental reforms to root out corruption.

Bukele is also the first president in three decades to not come from either the right-wing ARENA party or the left-wing FMLN party. Many Salvadorans see Bukele as a chance to move beyond the legacy of the country’s brutal civil war while also tackling difficult economic and political issues.

Keep an eye on El Salvador as this process won’t be easy. However, many are optimistic that the Central American country now can make meaningful gains over the next several years.

Elections to Watch in July

Only one election for the chief executive will take place in the month of July. Greece held an early snap election on July 7th. Early results point to a center-right victory with the New Democracy party gaining nearly 40 percent of the vote. This change would represent a shift from left-wing populism to mainstream politics for the Mediterranean democracy.

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