Nepal Elections: Why Can’t the Mayor Be a Woman?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

Fourteen thousand women won political office in Nepal’s first local elections in 2017. With the 2022 elections now just days away, our guest asks why so few women ran at the top of the ticket.

Nepal’s Federalism Milestone: Five Opportunities and a Second Round of Elections

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

After months of uncertainty, Nepal has announced the second round of local elections under its historic 2015 constitution. In the face of Covid lockdowns and political paralysis, local governments have been a bright spot on the nation’s rocky road to federalism.

2020 General Election: State and Region Hluttaws

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Following this year’s General Election and the UEC’s release of the official results, The Asia Foundation has produced the attached short brief detailing the new composition of Myanmar’s state and region hluttaws(parliaments). Beyond the strong performance of the NLD, the brief notes improved women’s representation in the state/region hluttaws, the noteworthy composition of the Shan and Rakhine state hluttaws, and the important impact military-appointed representatives will have on the balance of power in some states/regions.

Virtual Event – The 2020 Elections in Myanmar: A Conversation with Ambassador Mark McDowell

Monday, November 9th, 2020

9:00 am – 10:00 am ET (Washington DC) 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm MMT (Myanmar) Voters in Myanmar cast their ballots in a national parliamentary election on November 8. This election was seen as a referendum on Aung San Sun Kyi and her ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party achievements amid an economic crisis caused by Covid-19 and an exercise in campaigning during a global pandemic. But a “first-past-the-post” electoral system and a concentration of seats in the central part of the country means ethnic minority representation will remain limited. Over the past five years, the NLD has struggled to deliver on its pledges to end violence and enact land and social welfare reforms in minority areas. Armed conflicts in Rakhine State and elsewhere in Myanmar have led to poll cancellations in all or parts of 56 townships disenfranchising more than 1.5 million people. What does this all portend for Myanmar’s democratic future? Featuring Ambassador Mark McDowell, Country Representative, Myanmar, The Asia Foundation Moderator John Brandon, Senior Director, International Relations, The Asia Foundation Register for this event.

2020 in Asia: A 20/20 Look

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of InAsia for 2020. To herald the new decade, our country representatives this week survey the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for a dynamic and rapidly changing Asia. Here, to kick off the new year, are perspectives from The Asia Foundation’s 18 country offices. 

Watching and Waiting: Indonesia’s Upcoming Elections

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

On April 17, Indonesia will hold its sixth democratic election since the Reformasi protests brought down the authoritarian government of President Suharto. On streets thick with election posters, a mix of hope and trepidation fills the air. Development has begun to move faster in this complex archipelago of over 260 million people, particularly in the urban centers, and the standard of living is starting to improve after two decades of fits and starts. With clear vernal skies, a new underground rail system, and the macet—the capital’s infamously jammed traffic—moving smoothly as never before, Jakarta has a distinct spring in its step. Yet, as elections approach, the complex tensions beneath Indonesia’s sometimes fragile equilibrium—religious and ethnic differences, identity politics, and the massive gap between a wealthy and powerful elite and a poor and vulnerable population—are on vivid display to the world. On the surface, the 2019 elections are an echo of 2014. The rags-to-riches incumbent, President Jokowi, now sporting a less secular demeanor and with debate raging over his first-term achievements, again faces former general Prabowo Subianto, with his less-than-resplendent record on human rights. A multitude of new parties, the nouveaux riches of Indonesian politics, have been active this election season. As Indonesia’s government has decentralized, new centers of money and influence have arisen in many of its 514 newly empowered districts, and next week’s elections will turn as much on local as on national issues—that is, when they turn on the issues at all. Recent additions to Indonesia’s complicated political landscape rely on these powerful elites in local communities to fund their operations. These parties are money driven, personality centered, and powered by social media in a country saturated with mobile phones. While the Solidarity Partai stands out as having no direct link to the powerful Suharto or Sukarno dynasties, two new parties are connected to the Suharto name: Garuda, founded by a Suharto daughter, and Berkarya, founded by a son. Large swaths of the country’s vast and vibrant civil society, previously vocal supporters of Jokowi, are taking a back seat in this election. There is a sense of ambivalence towards… Read more

New Faces, New Chapter in Thai Politics

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Thailand’s March 24 parliamentary election is still playing out, and uncertainty about the results is likely to continue for weeks. At the time of this post, the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) has announced a preliminary tally giving the Pheu Thai Party 135 seats, or 38.6 percent, and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) 98 seats, or 28 percent (see election map here). In a major surprise, the PPRP won nearly half a million more votes than Pheu Thai, the first time in 20 years that Pheu Thai or its predecessor parties have not won the popular vote. The ECT has 60 days to confirm the final results, and members of the upper house—who will be selected, not elected, according to the current constitution—will not be determined until next month, meaning the vote for prime minister may not occur until mid-May. We will be waiting awhile longer. The media and election-monitoring groups have raised several legitimate concerns that have undermined the credibility of the outcome in the eyes of many Thai citizens and emboldened opponents of the current government. While the vote itself was relatively smooth, counting and reporting has been surprisingly chaotic. The announcement of results has been postponed several times, leading many to raise suspicions of vote-count manipulation. While there is no direct evidence to corroborate these accusations, the delays certainly give the impression of poor management and communication by the ECT. According to the Asian Network for Free Elections, the only major international election-monitoring group to field observers, the election had several serious technical and management problems, though these are unlikely to affect the end result. Several parties are raising concerns about irregularities, but these issues will take weeks to investigate. A massive petition is in the works to remove the ECT commissioners. It seems that many Thais are frustrated with the conduct of this election. A critical stage of the process is now beginning, as the two largest parties pursue rival efforts to form a governing coalition. So, what is new about this election? Have Thai politics changed? Memories of political chaos cast a long a shadow… Read more

Reuters Features Quote from Country Representative Thomas Parks

Monday, March 25th, 2019

March 25, 2019 — Reuters quotes the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Thailand, Thomas Parks, in an article analyzing Thailand’s upcoming general elections. The article was also featured in The New York Times and Channel NewsAsia.  Addressing inequality should be high on the agenda of the next government, said Thomas Parks, country representative of the Asia Foundation, a non-profit group focusing on development.   “Inequality and regional disparities are one of Thailand’s most fundamental challenges,” he said.   “We expect that any government, regardless of the election outcome, will make this a serious priority.”

An Analysis of Campaign Finance and CSO Operations in the 2017 Elections

Monday, November 19th, 2018

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) deployed a study team of international election observers to undertake an independent assessment of key components of the electoral process during Nepal’s 2017 House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly Elections. The mission’s aims were to contribute to the strengthening of Nepal’s electoral process and overall promotion of democracy, to enhance the cooperation of international and domestic observation groups by exploring possible areas for collaboration and future engagements, and to provide recommendations based on the most significant issues affecting the overall credibility and integrity of the electoral process. The study also focused on assessing two electoral components, campaign finance and the role of election monitoring groups.

Fully Abled Nation – Making Elections More Inclusive

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

This story traces the efforts of Fully Abled Nation (FAN), a multi-sectoral coalition, towards making Philippine elections more inclusive.