Election Year

As 2024 sees the biggest year for democracy in history, York Vision's new column will take a look at elections from around the globe as we creep closer to the US and UK's next big test of democracy

(Image: Pexel)

Welcome to Election Year, a new series covering all things world elections, democracy and the future of global politics.

Why now? Why this year? Well, 2024 is predicted to be the biggest year for democracy in history, with more than half the world’s population heading to the polls.
Some of the globe’s biggest populations will vote for governmental change (or lack thereof) including India’s 1.4 billion, Russia’s 144 million, Brazil’s 218 million and Mexico’s 129 million. And it all leads up to the November election that may determine everything, as predicted nominees Donald Trump and Joe Biden return to the United States election ballot for the rematch of the century. A rematch that may define the next century of global politics as well.
A little closer to home we’re watching the lead up to the United Kingdom’s next general election-if we ever get an election date that is!
But for now it’s been a busy few months of elections globally, as we creep towards the end of 2023 and into the start of the biggest election year ever seen.

NEW ZEALAND – October the 8th 2023

New Zealand isn’t a country typically known for dramatic elections or controversial politics. A small island nation of 4 million, New Zealand has made a name for itself through the leadership of Jacinda Ardern – the nation’s second female prime minister who managed to sweep a historic majority win for her Labour party in the 2020 election. After Ardern’s impromptu resignation in January 2023 – unwilling to fight an election campaign she couldn’t or didn’t want to win – in stepped Chris Hipkins. His friendly character and affectionate nickname Chippy won him comradery during Covid-19, however, burdened by Labour’s long reign and waning policies, and up against a fresh, new National party opponent Christopher Luxon, this impromptu incumbent struggled to gain momentum. Under the mixed-member proportional system the Labour and National parties were also up against a range of smaller parties, with everyone stretching for enough seats to avoid messy coalitions (a commonality in NZ). With crime, housing, cost of living and foreign policy all on the agenda, it was Chris Luxon’s strong reform plan and promise of change that managed to separate the two largely centralised parties. As the indigenous focused Te Pāti Māori won a historic 6 seats, in the end a governing coalition was formed between the right-wing Nationals, ACT and NZ First parties, as Luxon earned 43% of the vote share and New Zealand headed right for the first time in 6 years.

AUSTRALIA – October the 8th 2023

As New Zealand headed to the polls to elect their new Prime Minister, across the Tasman Sea Australians were also gathering to watch democracy in action. Polling day was scheduled for a Referendum, asking Aussies whether they’d be willing to change the constitution and allow an official and permanent First Nations (Aboriginal) representative body in Parliament. The Voice was first suggested by First Nations elders in the 2017 Urulu Statement of the Heart, and when Anthony Albanese’s Labour party returned to government in 2022, this referendum was first on his agenda. However, the campaign and subsequent outcome weren’t as straightforward as he, nor most of Australia, perceived. With voters asked to answer simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the establishment of the Voice, Australia was greatly divided as misinformation, misdirection from the opposing Liberal National party, accusations of racism or wokeness, and a vague and ill-prepared ‘Yes’ campaign filled the political and internet landscape with noise. In the end the ‘No’ campaign’s simple “If you don’t know, vote no” message rang strongest, and Australia watched all six states and over 60% of voters deny the representation change. An early loss for Labour and a surprising win for an increasingly conservative Australia, the important takeaway is that regions with predominantly Indigenous populations seemed to have overwhelmingly voted yes.

THE NETHERLANDS – November the 22nd 2023

In mid-November in the Netherlands Geert Wilders’ PVV(the freedom party) – a right wing populist party – won 37 seats (out of a total 150), well ahead of the nearest party, a left-wing grouping. Policies he’d like to bring in include, banning the Koran, leaving the EU and removing all foreign aid. The electoral system is a party-list system meaning that each person votes for a political party and the seats in the Parliament are proportional to the number of votes cast across the country. As a result of this, the post-election coalition building is an important stage of the electoral process. Despite justified alarm about some of the party’s policies, the extent to which they can be carried out is not set in stone. A recent appointee, brought in to scout for potential coalition, quitting due to an alleged fraud, which may make Wilders’ difficult job of building a working coalition even harder.

ARGENTINA – October the 22nd 2023

The recent presidential election was won by the right-wing chainsaw-wielding Javier Milei. It is not overall surprising that his opponent Massa, a former finance minister and member of the formerly leading Peronist movement lost this election against a backdrop of incredibly high inflation and an illegal ‘blue market’ where people can exchange dollars at a much better rate than via normal exchanges, as a way of bringing dollars into the country, due to them being less volatile than the Argentine Peso. It does not mean that the situation will improve under Milei but it is hard to argue against a change candidate when times are tough.

POLAND- October the 15th 2023

In Poland, the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party lost their majority and 8.2% of the vote. The Civic Coalition, Third Way and The Left pledged to form a coalition government with 248 seats, just over the 231 seats needed to form a government. PiS has been under fire in the past for their anti-abortion views, politicisation of the jury. In its place, the pro-EU coalition are looking to ‘repair democracy’ in Poland – and to legalise abortion, a long contested issue.

SLOVAKIA – September the 30th 2023

The 30th of September saw Slovakia face an election, with pro-Russian, left-wing Smer coming out on top. Key election issues were the Ukrainian war, reproductive rights and the rule of law, and Smer pledged to stop military support to Ukraine. Smer is joined in coalition with the Social democrats Hlas, formed by dissidents of Smer in 2020, and former Conservative Populist government SNS.
Second place went to Progressive Slovakia, a pro-EU party wanting to create an open and tolerant Slovakia.


With just under a year left, the US election is already looking like one to watch. As republican long shots battle it out in debates over abortion, cancel culture and who is best able to balance Trump populism with Republican sense, polling results show that Trump is almost guaranteed the Republican nomination at this point.… that is if he isn’t in jail. As criminal and civil cases follow Trump across NY, Georgia, Florida and Washington DC, it seems his biggest issue isn’t whether he will campaign but how much time he’ll have to do so. And let’s not forget, there is no constitutional rule against a President governing from prison.
On the Democrat side the nominee is clear, if not particularly confidence filling. Incumbent Joe Biden seems eager to return to the campaign trail, where he shines chatting to voters and kissing babies. However, polls show many democrats fear for his health as he hits 81 years of age. Younger voters are equally frustrated by his lack of action during the Israel-Gaza conflict. However, unless the Democrats can decide on a powerful-enough understudy to go up against a near guaranteed Trump campaign, the old dog – with a notably strong trick of reelection – is all they’ve got.

DAYS UNTIL TO UK ELECTION: Who knows at this point?

Will Rishi ever choose a date? Or will he just wade through indecision and in denial until it’s too late…He has until January the 28th 2025 to call the election, and gosh is that clock ticking.
Labour have been flying high in the polls and largely focused on remaining the party of good sense for the time being. Keir Starmer’s speech (and quick recovery from protestor glitter) were hits of the Labour National Conference earlier this year. However, recent party conflict over whether to support a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict led to a small but not unnoticed rebellion from select frontbenchers and party members.
The Tories are facing even more chaos. Suella Braverman’s insensitive and riot-inducing comments as Home Secretary led her to be forcefully removed from said office in November, just days before the Supreme Court ruled against the government’s Rwanda refugee transportation plan, placing the government at war with the international legal system apparently? At least Jeremy Hunt’s financially uncontroversial Autumn Statement seems to be reigniting some semblance of a plan – and maybe a hint of election dates? May election anyone?
And well, David Cameron is back… and that’s only good news for David.