May 3, 2022 - World

4 big elections coming up in May

An election rally for Leni Robredo outside Manila. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

It's a busy month for global elections, starting with the May 9 race to replace Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is term-limited.

The big picture: Lebanon (May 15), Australia (May 21) and Colombia (May 29) will also go to the polls this month.

Zoom in: In the Philippines, a new Pulse Asia poll puts Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos at 56%, far ahead of Vice President Leni Robredo (23%) and boxer Manny Pacquiao (7%).

  • Marcos is the son and namesake of the dictator who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 and was ousted amid allegations of human rights abuses and industrial-scale corruption.
  • More than half of registered voters were born after Marcos Sr. left power, and the family and its political allies have managed to rehabilitate their image and even paint the Marcos era as a lost golden age.
  • His running mate is Sara Duterte, the president's daughter, underscoring the dominance of dynasties in Philippine politics. President and vice president are elected separately, but Duterte also has a big lead.

The other side: Robredo, the current vice president, protested Marcos Sr. as a student in the 1980s and has more recently clashed with President Duterte, including over his bloody drug war.

  • She's drawing massive crowds with promises of reform, but struggling to narrow the gap in the polls. Robredo narrowly beat Marcos Jr. to take win the vice presidency in 2016. It would take a massive upset to repeat that on Monday.

Lebanon's legislative elections are harder to predict.

The backstory: Amid a devastating economic collapse and after the deadly 2020 Beirut port explosion, one might expect the political elite — infamous for self-dealing and self-preservation — to be swept from power.

  • But the opposition is fragmented and poorly funded, and many voters are feeling "a mix of apathy and cynicism," according to the Atlantic Council's Nick Blanford.
  • Hezbollah is likely to emerge once again as the most powerful political faction, Blanford writes, but it could take months of political horse-trading to form a government.

What to watch: The political reforms required by the IMF to access a $3 billion rescue package might have to wait until then.

In Australia, polls are neck and neck between Prime Minister Scott Morrison's center-right Liberals and the opposition Labor Party.

By the numbers: Morrison's approval rating was sky-high for much of the pandemic as his strict border policies helped keep cases low, but it's down to 41%, according to Morning Consult's tracker.

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese has seized on the recent security agreement between the Solomon Islands and China as a sign Australia has lost regional influence under Morrison. The prime minister, for his part, has accused Beijing of election interference.

Latin America's leftward turn could continue in Colombia, where polls suggest a left-wing candidate could be elected president for the first time.

  • Former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro has led consistently in the polls ahead of the first round, but he could face a tight runoff against conservative Federico Gutiérrez on June 19. Ivan Duque, the unpopular incumbent, is ineligible for re-election.
  • Petro was an M-19 guerrilla before entering politics and being elected to Congress in 1991. He has promised to fight inequality and climate change, including by taxing the rich and ending oil exploration. Gutiérrez compared Petro to Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro in a recent debate.

What's next: Expect Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take a similar line of attack against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose big lead has diminished somewhat ahead of their heavyweight presidential showdown on Oct. 2.

  • If Petro and Lula win, Latin America's six largest economies would all be led by left-wingers.
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