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International Elections 2024: What You Need to Know

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Billions of people — roughly half the world’s population — will cast ballots in local, regional, legislative and presidential elections in the coming year. Some of the races offer a chance for nascent democracies to take hold, while others will merely strengthen entrenched regimes. But in an era of political upheaval, any one of them could add to heightened geopolitical tensions.

From Mexico to India, Russia to South Africa, Venezuela to Sudan, more than 80 countries are gearing up for elections or have already begun holding them. The outcomes may hold outsize significance for economic stability, human rights and global relations.

But already it is clear that threats to democracy abound, and not just in countries with checkered election histories.

This year, even robust democracies are on the ropes, grappling with voter apathy, efforts to suppress opposition groups, and the spread of sophisticated disinformation campaigns.

Below are some of the most important races to keep an eye on.

March 24, with second round likely

Senegal

The country was thrown into chaos when the president tried to postpone the vote — then reversed course. He also released the main opposition party candidate from jail, setting up a fast, suspenseful contest.

An important presidential vote since the current president and prime minister represent opposing political camps.

Parliamentary elections that are widely seen as a midterm referendum on the current president.

A national election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third term. It’s considered the biggest peacetime logistical exercise anywhere.

The Panama Canal, a copper mine at the center of national protests and environmental issues are likely to be key issues in this election.

This will be the first presidential election since Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno seized power after the death of his father on the battlefield in 2021.

The first round of what is likely to be a two-round presidential election in which the incumbent is expected to win a second term.

May 19

Dominican Republic

President Luis Abinader suspended visas to Haitians and temporarily closed the border. Should he win, he will likely maintain his stance on Haiti while that country is terrorized by gang violence.

The ruling African National Congress party could lose its parliamentary majority in this election, for the first time since the fall of apartheid 30 years ago.

An election that is shaping up to be the country’s largest, and likely the most violent, in Mexico’s modern history. Mexicans will also elect a woman president for the first time.

An election generally considered an important gauge of political trends across Europe, it is held over four days in 27 countries for the 720-seat European Parliament.

President Paul Kagame led Rwanda out of the genocide, but has since dominated the country like a colossus. He is running for a fourth term after winning three elections with more than 90 percent of the vote.

The elections follow negotiations with the United States to put the country back on a democratic path, but with the top opposition candidate banned from running, it is doubtful the race will be free and fair.

Elections for the lower house of parliament, which will be closely watched as a test of the strength of the far-right Freedom Party.

The dominant party in the current coalition government, the Lithuanian Christian Democrats, a center-right group, has been faring poorly in opinion polls and could lose out to the social democrats.

A rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump that adds another layer of uncertainty to the global political landscape.

Likely November

Sri Lanka

The first presidential election since a popular uprising toppled the government in 2022.

Expected late 2024

United Kingdom

Polls suggest that the Conservative Party, which has held power for 14 years, may be on course for a significant loss against the left-wing Labour Party.

There was little doubt that Vladimir V. Putin would be declared the winner. But the presidential election carried added significance as the first since the invasion of Ukraine. And when the stage-managed vote was over, Mr. Putin had secured his fifth term.

Iranian officials urged people to turn out for the first general vote since an uprising swept across the country in 2022. It didn’t happen. In what was viewed as an act of protest, many stayed away from the polls, with the turnout in Tehran estimated to be as low as 11 percent.

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