The Longer Read

Why the world’s biggest election year could be a bit of a damp squib

While more than 2 billion people are expected to vote in elections this year – from the US to Russia, and Taiwan to Tuvalu – the irony is that little is expected to change, writes Sean O’Grady. Indeed, Keir Starmer could be the ‘freshest’ face on the world stage

Saturday 06 January 2024 13:16 GMT
This year is expected to see more people voting in elections than ever before
This year is expected to see more people voting in elections than ever before (Canva)

Democracy is a wonderful thing, and it seems that the world can’t get enough of it. Though it is threatened, sometimes violently, by the nastiest people in the world, the concept of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” survives, and it just so happens that this year is expected to see more people voting in elections, in more countries, than ever before.

Partly that is because there are simply more nation states, supranational bodies and devolved administrations than ever, but it is also because free and fair elections (or something approaching that ideal) remain the best form of governance and the soundest long-term foundation for prosperity and peace. It is always worth remembering that wars between fully democratic countries are extremely rare. Can you think of one?

This year, people will be going to the polls everywhere, from Algeria to Tuvalu, with some 2 billion eligible voters (one in four of the world’s population). They will be voting for governments in some of the most troubled and unstable of places – Taiwan, Pakistan and Iran – as well as some reassuringly tranquil ones, such as the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra).

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