11 elections to watch after France's presidential race

Supporters of French presidential-elect Emmanuel Macron celebrating his win.
Supporters of French presidential-elect Emmanuel Macron celebrating his win.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) - The French presidential election is over. But political risk has not gone away. Here is a look at the other major elections coming up over the next 18 months.

1. MAY 9: SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 


(From left) Mr Moon Jae In, Mr Ahn Cheol Soo and Mr Hong Joon Pyo. PHOTO: REUTERS, PHOTOS: EPA

Who is competing?

Former opposition leader Moon Jae in faces software tycoon Ahn Cheol Soo in the race to succeed conservative Park Geun Hye. Park was ousted amid a corruption scandal entangling some of South Korea's most powerful conglomerates. Mr Hong Joon Pyo, who's backed by the latest iteration of Park's party, is also running. 

What do the polls show?

Restrictions are now in place on the reporting of polling specifics. The most prominent candidates are Mr Moon and Mr Ahn.

What's at stake?

The result could shape the international response to North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. Mr Moon has signaled a softer touch to relations with Mr Kim Jong Un, while Mr Ahn has backed the installation of a controversial US missile shield. Both have endorsed measures to reduce the influence of South Korea's family-owned "chaebol" conglomerates.

2. MAY 14: GERMAN REGIONAL ELECTIONS IN NORTH-RHINE WESTPHALIA


German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the Business 20 dialogue event in Berlin, Germany, on  May 3, 2017.  PHOTO: REUTERS

Who is competing?

The incumbent Social Democrat-led coalition will face off against Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. The SPD is in coalition with the Green Party. The Free Democrats, a traditional CDU ally, are also a force to be reckoned with.

What do the polls show?

The rust belt state is traditionally an SPD stronghold but polls suggest the CDU is closing the gap. With the Greens polling poorly and the Free Democrats on around 12 per cent, there is a chance Dr Merkel's party could enter the coalition government or even take the state.

What's at stake?

The outcome will give a clear sense of voters' mood four months out from September's federal election. With nearly 18 million people, North-Rhine Westphalia accounts for more than a fifth of Germany's population.

3. MAY 19: IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


Iranian presidential candidates (from left to right) Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Eshaq Jahangiriattend a live debate on state TV in Tehran on April 28, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Who is competing?

The incumbent moderate president Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term. Conservative Teheran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi are his leading challengers in the six-man race. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is thought to favour Raisi.

What do the polls show?

There are no reliable polls in Iran. A survey published this week by state-affiliate Iranian Students Polling Agency showed Mr Rouhani leading Mr Raisi by 53 per cent to 32 per cent in a head-to-head race. Against Mr Qalibaf, Mr Rouhani was ahead by 49 per cent to 38 per cent.

The remainder of those questioned wouldn't back either candidate or refused to respond.

What's at stake?

The election is a referendum on Mr Rouhani, who struck a deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. His main opponents say they would respect the deal, but the election of a hardline president still raises the risks of a showdown with US President Donald Trump, who described it as a "disaster".

A conservative could also be more hostile to foreign investors.

4. JUNE 8: BRITISH GENERAL ELECTION

Who is competing?

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to win a larger majority for her governing Conservative Party. She faces an array of parties who want to thwart her, the largest of which is the Labour Party, followed by the pro-independence Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats.

What do the polls show?

Surveys, and the results of local elections last week, suggest May could be on course for a majority as big as those enjoyed by Mrs Margaret Thatcher and Mr Tony Blair in their heydays. The latest polls show her winning about 47 per cent of the vote, 19 points ahead of Labour.

What's at stake?

May says she needs a large majority to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, which are due to start after the election. The vote will also give clues on the strength of support for Scottish independence, whether Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn can survive in his job and how much influence anti-Brexit lawmakers will have during talks.
 

5. JUNE 11 AND 18: FRENCH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Who is competing?

President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche!, which was formed a year ago and currently has no seats in the parliament, will run for the first time. The Socialists and The Republicans, France’s two establishment parties, will be seeking to bounce back after their failures in the presidential elections, as will Marine Le Pen’s National Front. And Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Unbowed will present a full slate for the first time.

What do the polls show?

There’s been very little polling because France first had to get its presidential election out of the way. OpinionWay said May 3 that En Marche! and the Republicans would win the largest blocs, but both short of a majority. The Socialists, the National Front and the far left would take few seats, but enough to be potential kingmakers.

What's at stake?

Macron’s presidency. The constitution gives the president many powers, but only if he or she has a majority in parliament, which has the power to choose the cabinet and pass laws. Being a new party with no grassroots, En Marche! will struggle to win a majority, meaning Macron will have to seek alliances on his left or his right, with major repercussions to his policies.

6. SEPT 24: GERMAN FEDERAL ELECTION


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and former European Parliament president Martin Schulz. PHOTOS: AFP

Who is competing?

Chancellor Merkel, in office for 12 years, is seeking a fourth term. Her main challenger is Social Democrat Martin Schulz, a former European Parliament president. A record four other parties - the Left, Greens, Free Democratic Party and the Alternative for Germany - also are poised to win parliamentary seats.

What do the polls show?

Dr Merkel's bloc of Christian Democrats and Bavaria's ruling CSU party lead the Social Democrats in all polls, though Mr Schulz's campaign hasn't hit full gear yet. 

Possible coalitions could include an SPD-Green-Left alliance and a CDU/CSU-FDP-Green combination. Polls say the biggest share of voters prefers a rerun of Dr Merkel's "grand coalition" with the SPD.

What's at stake?

Dr Merkel is the most powerful European leader of modern times and sets the tone on everything from fiscal policy to the EU's stance on Russia. Mr Schulz is a pillar of the political establishment, so a victory for him would see more continuity than change. But a defeat for Dr Merkel would see Germany - and Europe - lose her clout and experience on global affairs.

7. POSSIBLY THIS YEAR: MALAYSIA GENERAL ELECTION


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at a forum on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila on April 28, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Who is competing?

Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional coalition is seeking to extend 60 years of uninterrupted rule. It is up against a group of opposition parties that have been fractured by infighting and have competed against each other in some smaller elections.

The opposition has no central leader, and the main Islamic opposition party has shown interest in backing Mr Najib on some policies.

What do the polls show?

Nationwide polls have not been published. While an opposition research outfit says support has fallen among ethnic Malays for Mr Najib's United Malays National Organisation, many analysts see his coalition retaining power - possibly with an increased majority.

What's at stake?

Mr Najib is seeking to put behind him a political funding scandal that has tainted much of his second term as leader. A stronger mandate will help him push reforms to move Malaysia closer to becoming a developed nation and improve its finances. Renewed political instability could deter foreign funds from investing and keep companies from increasing capital expenditure.

8. BY LATE MAY 2018: ITALIAN GENERAL ELECTION


(From left) Ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi,  Mr Luigi Di Maio and Mr Matteo Salvini. PHOTO: EPA, REUTERS, AFP

Who is competing?

Ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is likely to run for the Democratic Party of current premier Paolo Gentiloni. He would probably face Mr Luigi Di Maio, vice-president of the lower house, from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

Other candidates are expected to include Mr Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant Northern League.

What do the polls show?

Surveys show the Five Star Movement is neck and neck with the Democratic Party. An Ixe poll on May 5 showed both tied at 28 per cent. The Northern League was on 13 per cent, and the Forza Italia party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi had 12 per cent.

Who will win, and the make-up of any coalition, depends in part on electoral reform due in coming months.

What's at stake?

Mr Di Maio's Five Star has called for a referendum on Italy's euro membership, but has no clear plan on how to replace the single currency. It will also decide the political fate of Mr Renzi, a politician who wants to clean up the banking system, boost investment and speed up the judiciary to help revive an economy that has barely grown since the launch of the euro.

9. JULY 2018: MEXICO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


(From left) Mr Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Ms Margarita Zavala and Mr Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. PHOTOS: AFP, ST FILE

Who is competing?

Two-time presidential candidate and radical populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will likely face Margarita Zavala of the National Action Party, wife of former President Felipe Calderon. 

Mr Miguel Angel Osorio Chong is the candidate for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. The candidacies have yet to become official and the field may change.

What do the polls show?

Ms Lopez Obrador, who is from the Morena party, is the leading contender in most opinion polls, followed closely by Ms  Zavala. Mr Osorio Chong is a distant third.

What's at stake?

Mexico's energy sector and Nafta overhaul. Mr Lopez Obrador has said he would seek to legally overturn the country's landmark energy reform if he's elected, and his combative style may make Nafta re-negotiations with the Trump administration far more divisive, increasing risks of a breakdown in talks.

10. OCTOBER 2018: BRAZIL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


(From left) Mr Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Ms Marina Silva and Mr Jair Bolsonaro. PHOTO: REUTERS, FACEBOOK/MARINA SILVA, FACEBOOK/JAIR MESSIAS BOLSONARO

Who is competing?

The field is wide open. President Michel Temer says he will not run and traditional party loyalties have collapsed, meaning a myriad of candidates could compete. Nobody has officially launched a candidacy yet, but former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he may stage a comeback.

What do the polls show?

Mr Lula leads current opinion polls, with around 30 per cent of voter intention, followed by Ms Marina Silva, an environmental activist turned politician, and Mr Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right legislator known for homophobic and sexist remarks.

Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria, an entrepreneur and reality TV star, has been one of the politicians who gained most traction in some of the country's largest cities.

What's at stake?

The political stability of Latin America's largest economy and the durability of its economic recovery. Widespread disillusionment after a severe recession could bring to power an outsider or populist unable to build consensus in Congress and unwilling to adhere to fiscal discipline. The uncertainty over the election is already dampening investor and consumer confidence.

11. NOV 6, 2018: US CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS


(From left) Mr Dean Heller, Ms Heidi Heitkamp and Mr Joe Manchin. PHOTOS: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Who is competing?

Every one of the 435 House seats will be up for election, along with a third of the 100 senators. On the Senate side, that includes a few vulnerable Republicans like Dean Heller of Nevada, as well a number of Democrats running in states that President Donald Trump won, including Ms Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mr Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

What do the polls show?

It's early. Mr Trump's low poll ratings are giving Democrats hopes of picking up seats in both chambers, but the electoral map is challenging for them.

What's at stake?

Democrats would love to win control of at least one chamber of Congress to have better leverage to counter Mr Trump's agenda and gain leverage over future Supreme Court nominations.

On the Senate side, more Democratic-held seats are up for re-election, making it a challenge for them to pick up the three seats needed to take over the chamber. Republicans have a firmer lock on the House, but are almost certain to lose some seats.