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2014 World News: Election Wrapup

A look at the significant elections held around the world in 2014


Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

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Significant elections were held in all corners of the globe in 2014. Some tested democratic gains made in the Arab Spring protests, others challenged the status quo. Some were free and fair, others were tainted by allegations of irregularities and corruption. A few countries threw out leaders who failed to live up to promises or lift their countries out of economic malaise, while others extended the rule of longtime leaders. Here's a look at the most significant elections of the year.

Unity Government Formed in Afghanistan After Protracted Negotiations

Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, a former minister of finance and World Bank official, dominated the first round of voting in April's presidential election. They squared off in a second round, held on June 14. There were widespread allegations of fraud. Abdullah claimed the race was rigged, saying the election commission and Karzai conspired against him. Ghani and Abdullah agreed in September to form a unity government with Ghani as president and Abdullah in the newly formed position of chief executive, a role similar to that of prime minister. Read more.

Rousseff Narrowly Wins Re-election

In the second round of voting, President Dilma Rousseff narrowly prevailed over Aecio Neves, who was a surprise second-place finisher in the first round. Read more.

Turnout Unexpectedly Low in Egypt's Presidential Election

Low turnout in the presidential election prompted election officials to add a day of voting. Abdul-Fattah Sisi, the influential general who led the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, won the election in a landslide, taking 95% of the vote, but the turnout, about 47%, suggested that Sisi did not have the overwhelming support he had claimed and was widely reported. Read more.

Opposition Dominates Election in India

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party trounced the governing Indian National Congress Party, taking about 60% of the seats in parliament. The decisive victory gave the party an outright majority in parliament. Narendra Modi became prime minister. Read more.

2014 Parliamentary Elections in Iraq Unexpectedly Peaceful Despite Rise of ISIS

Parliamentary elections were held in May amid the insurgency in Anbar Province led by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which threatened to disrupt the election and warned Iraqis not to vote. With voter turnout at around 60%, citizens seemed to have ignored the threats. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition prevailed, taking 92 seats out of 328 seats in Parliament. Maliki faced withering criticism for his lack of leadership and for stoking secular tension between Shiites and Sunnis, and there were calls from both inside Iraq and by foreign leaders for Maliki to step down to make way for the formation of a unity government. He refused, and headed a caretaker government while Parliament struggled to elect a speaker, a necessary first step to form a government. Read More

ANC Prevails in 2014 Elections in South Africa

The African National Congress took 62.2% of the vote in May 2014 elections, handing Jacob Zuma a second term as president. The opposition Democratic Alliance placed second, 22.2%. Despite its landslide victory, the ANC has seen its popularity diminish in recent years due to allegations of corruption, growing income inequality, and disenchantment with Zuma. Read more.

President Assad Re-elected in a Disputed Election

In presidential elections held on June 3, 2014, Assad was re-elected to a third 7-year term, taking about 89% of the vote. However, votes were cast only in areas under government control as the opposition boycotted the election. President Obama and many other western leaders denounced the election as illegitimate. Read more.

Elections Held in Thailand Despite Anti-Government Protests

Protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra broke out in late 2013 and continued into 2014. The demonstrators demanded the resignation of Shinawatra, who they said is a puppet of her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Despite ongoing protests, elections were held on Feb. 2, 2014. The opposition, which boycotted the vote, disrupted the election by preventing the delivery of ballot boxes to about 11% of the precincts and by preventing some people from registering as candidates. The country's Constitutional Court ruled in March that the election was invalid. Thailand's Constitutional Court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign in May 2014 after ruling that she abused power in 2011 when she removed a civil servant from his post and replaced him with a relative. It was considered a blatantly political ruling. On May 20, 2014, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, declared martial law throughout the country. Two days later, Gen. Prayuth announced that he had indeed seized power from the interim government in a coup. In August 2014, Gen. Prayuth was elected prime minster by the military-dominated National Legislative Assembly whose members had been handpicked by Gen. Prayuth. Read more.

Islamists Ousted from Power in Tunisia

In October 2014 elections, the secularist coalition Nidaa Tounes (Tunisian Call) won 85 out of 217 seats in parliament, defeating Ennahda, the governing Islamist party, which took 69 seats. Ennahda came under fire for failing to lift the lackluster economy and for being unable to stem the spread of jihadism in the country. Nidaa Tounes is headed by Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old former government minister who headed the interim government in 2011. The election was considered fair and free of irregularities.

November’s presidential elections were closer than expected. Essebsi prevailed over Moncef Marzouki, 39.5% to 33.4%, and a runoff is necessary. Marzouki, a former dissident, has served as interim president since 2011. He has vowed to preserve the democratic reforms that resulted from the revolution and warned that the country would revert back to authoritarianism if Nidaa Tounes held both the presidency and premiership. Read more.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Elected President

Erdogan won August 2014's presidential election, the first decided by popular vote. He took 52% of the vote. The presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but in his acceptance speech Erdogan said he plans to amend the constitution to give the president executive powers. He had served as prime minister since 2003. Ahmet Davutoglu took over as prime minister. Read more.

Pro-Western Parties Dominate Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine

Parliamentary elections were held in late October. As expected, the pro-Western parties of President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk dominated, but neither won an outright majority. In an upset, Yatsenyuk's Peoples Front party defeated Bloc Petro Poroshenko by a slim margin: 22.2% to 21.8%. They will likely form a coalition government. Crimea did not participate in the election, nor the rebel-held areas, which said they would hold their own elections. Elections were in fact held in Luhansk and Donetsk, separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, in early November, in violation of the cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk in September. The the Ukrainian government, U.S., and EU said they would not recognize the results of the election. Russia declared the results as binding. Read more.

—Beth Rowen
Did you know?
For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity.
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