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2020 Year in Review Elections

Any 2020 year in review article is going to have a ton of material. This is especially true if you run a health and science website. However, this is an elections website, but there, we have plenty to discuss as well.

This Covid-tainted year surprised us, challenged us, and ultimately, stunned us. While the entire world did battle with the same invisible enemy, 2020 saw some momentous elections. Yes, that’s before mentioning what happened in the United States.

In the year that was, and with an eye towards what is a brighter future, we summon the strength to revisit 2020 in politics and elections one more time.

2020 Year In Review: January Elections

January 2020 was a relatively quiet month in world elections, seeing a single-digit number on the national level.

Taiwan chooses a leader. Perhaps the most intriguing election from an international perspective was in Taiwan, where a presidential election was held on January 11. Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected president of the island, bringing home victory for the nationalist Democratic Progressive Party. She defeated Han Kuo-yu, then the mayor of Kaohsiung and representative of the pro-China Kuomintang party.

Peru’s result very unclear. Elsewhere, Peru elected a new parliament on January 26. It was a notable result in that it produced one of the most divided legislatures you may see in the world today. Popular Action won the most seats with 25, with 66 needed for an overall majority. Thanks in part to their system of proportional representation, seven parties won at least 10 seats out of the 130 total.

Year In Review: February 2020 Elections

The race for the White House launches. A crowded field of Democratic challengers seeking to face Donald Trump officially started their march to the nomination with the February 3 Iowa Caucuses. The counting and delegate tabulations were replete with errors due to a faulty new app, leading to a very slow result. South Bend, Indiana’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, narrowly defeated Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. However, as former vice president Joe Biden sunk in the polls and lost primaries, the race turned on a dime in late February with Jim Clyburn’s endorsement in South Carolina. Biden won the South Carolina primary in a landslide on February 29, rejuvenating his campaign.

Ireland changes course. On February 8, Ireland voted for a new Dáil and sent their government packing, at least from governing alone. Fine Gael, in government since 2011, came in third in the 2020 election, falling behind Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. The latter party has never elected the Taoiseach (prime minister), but finished just one seat behind Fianna Fáil. Months later, in an effort to keep Sinn Féin out of power, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Greens formed a coalition government. Micheál Martin (FF) will be Taoiseach for two years, and then the ousted Leo Varadkar (FG) will return to the top job.

2020 Year In Review: March Elections

Joe Biden’s Super March. Fresh off of a massive win in South Carolina, Biden and the remaining Democratic US presidential candidates faced Super Tuesday on March 3. Biden built forward momentum and won 10 of the 14 states. In the following weeks, he won several more key contests, including Michigan. This effectively ended the race for the nomination, though the final opposing holdout, Sanders, would not drop out until April.

Israel takes three. In their third election in the span of a year, Israelis went to the polls again on March 2 to pick another new Knesset. The first two elections, which saw close runs between Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and the opposition Blue and White coalition of Benny Gantz, were inconclusive. Netanyahu was unable to piece his old coalition back together as Yisrael Beiteinu would not join a government with the Orthodox parties. Likud and Netanyahu won a few more seats than Blue and White in the March 2020 rerun, but this coalition would collapse by the end of 2020.

Year In Review: April 2020 Elections

South Korea boosts its government. In what was seen as the first true “Covid election” in a developed nation, South Korea went to the polls on April 15. The result was one to celebrate for the incumbent Democratic Party government. Together with aligned parties, they won 180 seats while needing only 151 for an overall majority. This is the biggest win for any National Assembly party in the South Korean Sixth Republic.

2020 Year In Review: May Elections

The world’s elections on pause. With the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world, electoral activity was largely halted by May 2020. Britain’s local elections, for example, were postponed by one year to May 2021. However, a few countries did still head to the polls. The African nation Burundi elected Évariste Ndayishimiye as its president on May 20, while South America’s Suriname voted in a parliamentary election on May 25.

Year In Review: June 2020 Elections

Slowly filling out the calendar. Not many more nations proceeded with polls in June. For example, Kiribati re-elected its president, Taneti Maamau, on June 22. Mongolia voted in a parliamentary election on June 24 which saw the governing Mongolian People’s Party win in another landslide. Finally, among other results, Serbia held a parliamentary election on June 21 after it had been postponed for two months. Ana Brnabić saw her For Our Children coalition win a massive majority government, carrying every district in the country.

2020 Year In Review: July Elections

Australians return to the booths. At least, some Australians got back into voting on July 4. The federal electoral division of Eden-Monaro voted that day, and the opposition Labor Party held the seat despite a swing against of 0.46 percent. When Australia as a nation next votes in 2022, Kristy McBain’s seat will be one of the closest targets.

Change comes to the Dominican Republic. Luis Abinader was elected the 54th President of the Dominican Republic on July 5. Abinader is the first president of the nation from his party, the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), and his win ended 16 years of rule by the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

Poland sticks with Duda. On July 12, Poland voted in the second round of its presidential election. This one got international attention as this traditionalist and Catholic country saw a liberal challenger pose a serious obstacle to President Andrzej Duda’s re-election. In the end, Duda was re-elected with just over 51 percent of the vote. Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, came in with 48.97 percent. Since the foundation of the 1989 Republic, only one other president has been re-elected.

Year In Review: August 2020 Elections

Belarus election sparks unrest. On August 9, Belarus’ iron-fisted leader, Alexander Lukashenko, officially won a sixth term in office by a landslide. However, the international community was quick to condemn the vote as a sham, with Sweden’s foreign minister calling the poll “undemocratic” and Germany’s government said that the process was “not acceptable.”1 Protests broke out across Belarus following the election, and they continued as of the end of 2020.

Labor wins on the Top End. In the first state or territorial election in Australia since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Labor won re-election in the Northern Territory on August 22. Having roared into power behind a landslide in 2016, Michael Gunner’s Labor lost seats in 2020 and were left with a much thinner majority. The Country Liberals, the Territory’s other main party, staged a comeback following their disastrous 2016 poll, increasing from two to eight seats of 25 total.

2020 Year In Review: September Elections

Jamaica sticks with the JLP. On September 3, Jamaica voted in its national election. The result was an historic landslide win for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Left with just a one-seat majority following the 2016 election, Holness and the JLP won 48 out of 63 seats. This is the most seats won by the party since the days of Edward Seaga in the 1980s.

Higgs’ gamble pays off. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Progressive Conservative (PC), had a thin minority government since the 2018 provincial election. With the PCs leading in the polls and policy negotiations stalling, Higgs rolled the dice and called an election for September 14. It worked out very well for the government, with the PCs cashing in on their handling of Covid-19. This turned into a majority government for the Progressive Conservatives, with Liberal leader and Canadian hero Kevin Vickers failing to win a seat in the legislature. This election kicked off some unexpected activity in Canadian politics, with another province’s premier taking the same gamble a month later.

Italy shrinks its legislature. On September 20, Italians voted in a constitutional referendum. The question was on reducing the Chamber of Deputies by 230 seats to 400 and the Senate by 115 to 200. This measure passed with overwhelming support, just shy of 70 percent out of 26 million votes. The “yes” vote got at least 59 percent in every region of the country, with the strongest vote in the south.

Year In Review: October 2020 Elections

A wave of Oceanian elections. October was a busy month in politics Down Under and next door in New Zealand. On the same day, October 17, New Zealand and the Australian Capital Territory voted in elections. In both cases, a party named Labor (or Labour, in the Kiwi case), won. ACT Labor lost its majority government, while New Zealand Labour became the first party to win an outright majority since the country adopted mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation. It remained good fortune for Labor in Queensland on October 31, as the Annastacia Palaszczuk was re-elected for a third term with an increased majority.

Bolivia ends its political crisis. In 2019, Bolivia voted for president, and the incumbent, left-winger Evo Morales, was declared as the winner. When claims of irregularities arose, the election was annulled and conservative Senator Jeanine Áñez became acting president. Morales fled the country, but with the re-run election being pushed back due to the pandemic, Bolivians could not close this chapter right away. Ultimately, on October 18, Bolivia elected Luis Arce of Morales’s party to the presidency. Arce was sworn in weeks later and Morales returned to Bolivia.

Canadian election doubleheader. Two more provinces headed to the polls in October 2020: Saskatchewan (expected) and British Columbia (snap election). The latter, British Columbia, saw an NDP government led by John Horgan in a minority situation, but with a lead in the polls. Horgan called an election mid-pandemic for October 24 and won a large majority. Two days later, Saskatchewan re-elected the conservative Saskatchewan Party of Scott Moe to a fourth term with no change to their massive majority.

2020 Year In Review: November Elections

The never-ending US presidential election. With the pandemic causing a sharp increase in mail voting, counting in the November 3 American general election was slow. On election night, it became clear that Democrats held the House of Representatives and the bottom would not fall out for Republicans in the Senate. However, what about the presidency, where state calls were few and far between? Network news stations held election coverage around the clock for days until Pennsylvania, and the presidency, were called for Joe Biden four days later on Saturday, November 7.2 Behind allegations of fraud, Donald Trump and his legal team would then launch dozens of lawsuits in a number of states seeking to overturn the election results. These suits continued up to and beyond the date of the Electoral College vote on December 14, which confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. It is expected that Trump allies will object to the count and certification of the electoral vote on January 6 in Congress.

Year In Review: December 2020 Elections

Political calendar quiets down again. While the American election dispute raged on into December, as the world approached a very different holiday season, elections were sparse. For example, Romania voted on December 6 and the American-educated Florin Cîțu became prime minister shortly thereafter.

Sources: Further Reading

  1. AFP, “How the World Has Reacted to Belarus Presidential Vote,” The Moscow Times, 10 August 2020, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/08/10/how-the-world-has-reacted-to-belarus-presidential-vote-a71102
  2. NBC News, “November 7 Highlights: Joe Biden Becomes the President-Elect,” NBC News, 7 November 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/blog/2020-11-07-trump-biden-election-results-n1246882

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