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  • Election Watch

(March–June 2019)

Benin: In April 28 elections to the National Assembly, two parties aligned with President Patrice Talon won all 83 seats—47 for the Progressive Union and 36 for the Republican Bloc. In the lead-up to the election, all genuine opposition parties were barred from participating. In response, opposition leaders called on their supporters to boycott and to protest the election. The government cracked down on the protests, arresting activists and shutting down the internet ahead of the vote. In spite of the government's efforts to counter the boycott, only 23 percent of voters turned out, a sharp decline from 65 percent in the previous election.

Comoros: In the March 24 presidential election, President Azali Assoumani of the Convention for the Renewal of Comoros won 61 percent, avoiding a runoff. Mahamoud Ahamada of the Juwa party won 15 percent, Mouigni Baraka Saïd Soilihi won 6 percent, and Mohamed Soilihi won 4 percent. Several other opposition candidates were not permitted to run. Observers from the European Union, the African Union, and other international groups criticized the election as marred by irregularities and a lack of transparency. Opposition groups rejected the results. Mohamed Soilihi, who declared himself head of a transitional authority to replace Assoumani, was arrested, leading to widespread protests in which four people were killed. Assoumani was sworn in as president on May 26.

Estonia: In March 3 elections for the 101-seat Riigikogu, Kaja Kallas's Estonian Reform Party (RE) won 34 seats, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas's Estonian Center Party (EK) won 26, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) won 19, the Pro Patria party won 12, and the Social Democratic Party won 10. Despite winning the most seats, the center-right RE and its allies, the Social Democrats, fell short of the 51 seats necessary to form [End Page 179] a government. In April, the EK formed a coalition government with Pro Patria and the far-right EKRE, with Ratas as prime minister.

India: In elections that began on April 11 and ended on May 19 for the 543-seat Lok Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi won 303 seats, and the BJP-led alliance won 354 seats in total. The Indian National Congress (INC) led by Rahul Gandhi won 52 seats, and the INC-led coalition won 91 seats in total. The remaining seats were won by smaller parties.

Indonesia: In the April 17 presidential election, President Joko Widodo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was reelected with 56 percent of the vote, defeating Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra party, who won 45 percent. Prabowo rejected the results, alleging widespread fraud, but international observers praised the election as free and fair. On May 21, after the official results were released, six people were killed, two-hundred injured, and 62 arrested in clashes between pro-Prabowo protesters and police in Jakarta. In concurrent elections for the 575-seat People's Representative Council, the PDI-P won 128 seats; Golkar won 85; Gerindra won 78; the Nasdem Party won 59; the National Awakening Party won 58; the Democrat Party won 54; the Prosperous Justice Party won 50; the National Mandate Party won 44; and the United Development Party won 19.

Kazakhstan: In the June 9 presidential election, incumbent president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the long-ruling Nur Otan party won 71 percent of the vote, defeating moderate opposition leader Amirzhan Kosanov of the Ult Tagdyry movement, who won 16 percent. The election was called in April after Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had been president since 1990, stepped down and appointed Tokayev interim president. Observers from the OSCE criticized the election as "tarnished by clear violations of fundamental freedoms." There were large protests in the capital and other large cities on election day, and more than five-hundred protesters were detained by the police. More than a hundred protesters were also arrested at protests during Tokayev's inauguration.

Lithuania: In the May 26 presidential runoff, economist Gitanas Nausÿeda, who ran as an independent, won 66 percent of the vote, defeating Ingrida Simonytÿe, also an independent. In the first round on...