What are the five most important votes taking place this year?
If your answers included “South Carolina,” “Florida,” or “a special election for mayor of New York after Bloomberg jumps in as an independent,” you might need to take a step back. Foreign Policy wants to remind you of a place you may have forgotten while glued to the televised presidential horse race—a little place called the rest of the world.
Foreign Policy’s most recent edition of its online feature “The List” tallies five particularly important elections in the vast elsewhere. Taiwanese nationalists squared off against a tough opposition challenge in last week’s parliamentary election and will do so again in an upcoming presidential vote. Pakistan’s parliamentary elections were postponed following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and ensuing riots but will be held next month—and few trust President Pervez Musharraf’s promise for “free and fair” elections. In March, Russian president Vladimir Putin plans to pass the presidency on to First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who has promised to make Putin the prime minister. It’s anybody’s guess how smooth this transition will be, not to mention the power-sharing arrangement itself.
In Zimbabwe, the economy is a complete mess, and President Robert Mugabe—who has been in power for almost 30 years—faces a serious electoral challenge. And upcoming legislative elections in Iran are viewed widely as a referendum on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic policies and aggressive demeanor.
While each of these countries’ elections are undoubtedly fraught with nuance, ours, to the best of my knowledge, is the only nation that spent the better part of last week fretting over what it “means” that a candidate got slightly emotional while talking to voters on national television.