Jan 6, 2019

One-fourth of the planet goes to the polls

Dave Lawler, author of World

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios 

The leadership of roughly a quarter of the world will be decided as three of the seven largest countries by population — Nigeria, Indonesia and India — will hold general elections in the next four months. They follow Bangladesh, the eighth largest, which went to the polls last Sunday.

Why it matters: It's a big moment for global democracy.

Catch up quick:

  • Nigeria (February): Four years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari swept into power on a surge of optimism, pledging to restore security and stamp out corruption. Since then, his record has been mixed, his popularity has dwindled and his health is poor (he recently had to deny rumors he’d been replaced by a body double). The old guard is clawing at the door.
  • Indonesia (April): President Joko Widodo is a charismatic reformer, but he’s in a bitter fight fueled in part by misinformation about his faith. He has picked an influential Muslim cleric as his running mate in an attempt to undercut his strongman rival. If he loses, observers fear a rollback of democracy.
  • India (April/May): Recent setbacks in state elections were a shot across the bow for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party may struggle to win enough seats to form the next government. It's a stunning fall for a leader who, until fairly recently, looked untouchable.

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