Election-watching for 2006 kicks off this weekend, with the first
elections taking place on Sunday. In Chile, there’s the run-off
presidential election; socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet, who led
in the first round on 11 December, is narrowly favoured to beat the right’s Sebastian Pinera.
Also on Sunday is the first round of the Finnish presidential election.
Incumbent social democrat Tarja Halonen is an unbackable favourite;
polls say she could well win more than 50% of the vote and therefore
avoid going to a second round.
Much more interesting is the Canadian election on January 23. The
opposition conservatives, having forced an early election, are riding
high in the polls, although it is still doubtful whether they can win a
parliamentary majority. For an Australian audience, Canada is an
intriguing mixture of the familiar and the exotic, and this one will be
well worth watching.
Two days later, on the 25th, it’s the turn of the Palestinian
Authority, with controversial elections in which the oligarchs of the
ruling Fatah movement are being challenged both by younger militants
within and by the Islamic movement Hamas.
February looks like being quieter, but March and April will be a busy
time for elections. Highlights include the South Australian election on 18 March (Antony Green’s preview is already available here); an early presidential election in Belarus,
Europe’s last dictatorship, on 19 March; a hotly-contested
parliamentary election in Ukraine a week later; the Israeli election of
28 March; Italian elections on 9 April; plus elections in Haiti,
Hungary, El Salvador, and a possible early election in Tasmania.