Canvassing the Globe

Posted by Patrick James

There are more than 50 presidential and parliamentary elections taking place around the world this year. Here are six to watch.

1 Israel, Parliamentary February  With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigning amid a sea of corruption, parliamentary power will end up in the hands of either Tzipi Livni or Benjamin Netanyahu. Until the transition happens, it will be nigh impossible to resolve issues of Palestinian statehood and refugee status, security and peace in the West Bank, and the status of Jerusalem.2 Afghanistan, Presidential April  The U.S.-backed president, Hamid Karzai, is up against some tough odds: a resurgent Taliban, a number of conservatives with disdain for new social freedoms, violent opposition to the election itself-the list goes on. He does have one thing in his favor, though: So far, no one is running against him.3 India, Parliamentary May 4 Iran, Presidential June  Seeing as he enjoys the support of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is expected to be elected to a second term this summer-even though he hasn't delivered on promises to turn oil profits into national solvency. Whoever wins won't change much regarding the country's controversial nuclear program-Khamenei makes those calls-but a reformist victory could jump-start some détente with the West.5 Sudan, Presidential and Parliamentary July… maybe In the past five years, 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes. The country's first free election in 23 years is slated to take place in July, but could be delayed by six months because of continued violence in Darfur, an impotent press, an ill-defined north-south border, and registration problems.6 Chile, Presidential December  Incumbent socialist president Michelle Bachelet is constitutionally barred from a second consecutive term. With only moderate economic successes and no clear successor for the moderate left, the nation could see a right-wing resurgence courtesy of the charismatic candidate Sebastián Piñera. NOW WHAT  These aren't the only elections next year. To find out what's happening in your region (or any region), visit electionguide.org.