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Incumbents may storm back to power in Asian countries where polls are due in 2024: report

Elections are due next year in nine Asian democracies with a combined population of 2.2 bn and an aggregate nominal GDP of $8.9 trillion

Incumbents may storm back to power in Asian countries where polls are due in 2024: report
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Incumbents are likely to storm back to power across nine countries in Asia, including India, where elections are due next year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in a report.

Democracies with a combined population of 2.2 billion and an aggregate nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $8.9 trillion are due to go to the polls in 2024.

EIU said that though it associates elections with a rise in political risk and uncertainty, “we anticipate that incumbents will remain in power across the majority of next year’s elections. While anti-establishment and populist sentiment is shaping election outcomes in many parts of the world, it is less apparent as a political force in Asia. The relatively bright economic prospects for the region are a contributing factor,” the report said.

The trend of incumbents winning in many of Asia’s upcoming elections also points to other issues, such as the erosion of democratic principles, the report said, adding that the opposition parties in these elections are often at a disadvantage, facing both official and unofficial restrictions on their operations.

While this may lead to short-term stability and continuity, it could undermine the long-term strength of democratic institutions, it added.

India is expected to hold elections to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) in multiple phases during April-May next year.

“We expect the incumbent coalition, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to win the election comfortably, ensuring continuity in government and policy,” the report said, adding that despite having already been in power for a decade, the BJP continues to benefit from three main factors: “a high popularity rating for the prime minister; the delivery of reforms to intended beneficiaries; and a perceived stronger global positioning of India (which will appeal to the urban electorate).”

The new opposition alliance, dubbed the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), is led by the main nationwide opposition, the Indian National Congress.

“The alliance of 28 parties is held together weakly, however, and this will limit its appeal to an electorate that is skeptical of multi-party government. While its chances of unseating the BJP are very low, we still expect INDIA to secure enough seats to reduce the BJP’s large majority modestly,” the report said.

Crystal-gazing into the future, EIU said it does not expect any “big bang” reforms under a returning BJP administration led by Modi, which will continue to focus on issues such as land acquisition, labor market initiatives and agriculture reforms.

“Existing initiatives such as boosting the manufacturing sector, diversifying and indigenizing defense equipment and strengthening infrastructure will continue. In foreign relations, India will pursue stronger relations with the US and its allies to strengthen capabilities in areas such as defense, critical technologies (including semiconductors) and funding for green transition projects like the National Green Hydrogen Mission,” the report said.

Relations with neighboring China and Pakistan will remain hostile, while India will further pursue its mission to be a leader of emerging economies through forums such as BRICS+ and the G20,” it added.

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