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.”
In what was a busy month for the Caribbean, several elections took place. Cuba held parliamentary elections in which 605 candidates won membership to the National Assembly with a reported 82.9 percent turnout. In Grenada’s general election on March 13th, Keith Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP) retained leadership over the government. Finally, Antigua and Barbuda held its general election on March 21st, one year earlier than the 2019 deadline. Gaston Browne of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) performed well with the ABLP’s obtaining an additional seat and Browne’s retaining control of the government.
In Africa, two major elections took place, with varying results. Egypt voted for its president during a three-day period that started on March 26th. Analysts and pundits widely predicted a win for incumbent al-Sisi, an outcome that materialized in the form of a landslide victory as the president secured 97 percent of the vote. In Sierra Leone, a runoff election for president took place as scheduled on March 31st. As of now, official results have yet to be released by electoral authorities and will likely not be released until midweek.
Finally, Europe experienced two major elections. Russia held its contest for the presidency on March 18th. As expected, Vladimir Putin was reelected after receiving 76 percent of the vote. In contrast, Italy’s election resulted in a combined populist and center-right resurgence against the incumbent center-left government. The Eurosceptic Five Star Movement gained 119 seats while the center-right coalition gained 140 seats. The leading left of center Democratic Party lost 180 seats while the right-wing Lega Nord party gained a surprising 108 seats in a result that created the largest coalition bloc in the government.
March proved to be an interesting month for leadership changes. Worldwide, four new leaders took power, with only one of them coming to power through an election. Starting with South America, Sebastián Piñera began his second term as president of Chile after his runoff win in December 2017. Piñera’s win marks a return to conservative politics for Chile as he seeks to learn from his previous tenure as president, which was mired in political and economic controversy. In neighboring Peru, vice president and ambassador Martin Vizcarra took over the presidency after former president Pedro Kuczynski resigned amid a high-profile corruption scandal. Vizcarra faces a tough political climate, including protests in Lima because of his close relationship with Kuczynski.
In Europe, two new leaders also took power. In Slovakia, former prime minister Robert Fico resigned because of controversy surrounding the killing of a journalist who reported on alleged fraud committed by political elites, including those in Fico’s governing party. In the wake of the scandal, Peter Pellegrini has been appointed as Fico’s replacement to take over the prime minister position once a new government is formed.. Finally, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chairperson of the presidency has rotated back to Bakir Izetbegović. Bosnia and Herzegovina uses a tripartite presidential system that represents the three major ethnic groups (Bosniak, Serbian, and Croat), with the head of state rotating every eight months.
Events to Watch in April
The biggest story to keep an eye on in April concerns the results of the presidential election in Sierra Leone. Official results were expected to be released sometime around April 4th, yet the results may not be the whole story. The government of Sierra Leone shut down access to the Internet immediately following the election, and there have been reports of sporadic violence in the wake of the vote. While there is no evidence to indicate that the election results will not be published, events on the ground remain volatile.
In terms of leadership battles, Italy is experiencing heavy negotiations between the winning parties regarding who will become the next prime minister. A tenuous alliance between the Eurosceptic Five Star Movement and the center-right coalition was tested early on when choosing speakers for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. At the moment, the battle to form a new government is likely to come down to a deal between the Five Star Movement and Lega Nord. Lega Nord’s surprise election results substantially shifted the balance of power within the center-right coalition it shares with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
Finally, there are three scheduled elections for heads of state to look forward to in April. Costa Rica will conclude its presidential election with a runoff round. Additionally, Paraguay will choose a new president and vice president as incumbents Horacio Cartes and Juan Afara are not eligible for reelection. Lastly, Hungary will hold parliamentary elections this month. While it is possible for a new government to be formed as a result, incumbent prime minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party are expected to maintain their position, according to opinion polls in the run-up to the election.