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  • AutorenbildMako Muzenda

Elections and the economy

Record number of elections across the globe this year. Elections in the US, UK, South Korea, India, South Africa, the UN Security Council and the EU Parliament are just some of the elections that are set to define global geopolitical, social and economic agendas for years to come. The latter is especially important during election cycles. The state of the economy often influences voters’ decisions at the polls, and election outcomes can significantly impact economic policies and stability on a national, regional and global level. 

There is a long history in democratic systems of voters judging incumbent heads of state and ruling parties based on economic performance, choosing either to reward or punish candidates. When the economy thrives, incumbents receive credit. When it falters, they face potential backlash. Economic anxieties, unemployment and a cost-of-living crisis are already key issues for voters in America, the UK and South Africa. Perhaps weary that a change in political leadership likely equals a change in approach to the economy, businesses and investors may delay long-term investments until election outcomes and government policies become clear. This hesitation can lead to economic consequences as decision-makers await stability. With almost half of the world’s GDP headed to the polls this year, a collective ‘wait and see’ attitude to investments, economic ventures and planning could have a negative impact.  

Additionally, economic concerns in voting also have geopolitical and social implications. In America for example, relations between China have slowly thawed. However, there is still an ongoing trade war which began in 2018. The economic relationship between the two countries has geopolitical implications and vice versa, with fears that a deterioration of diplomatic relations could hurt America’s economy. Voters in America and beyond will have to decide which presidential candidate is best equipped to navigate the increasingly tense and complex geopolitical waters to protect national economic interests and equally pursue economic partnerships with other countries. The EU’s parliament elections in June will be the first since Brexit, and the emergence of far-right parties has led to speculation that they will tap into economic concerns to secure victory. Analysts speculate that a shift to the right for the EU Parliament could lead to austerity measures and delays in integration in the blog. Considering that the EU is a key global development partner, any cuts to foreign aid in the name of austerity will impact the Global South.  

As the year progresses, the effect of political contest will be felt across the world. It is up to the voting public, public and private stakeholders to ensure that they do not have an adverse effect on citizens.

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