In a year that will be characterised by elections in some of the most populous and economically strongest countries, Pakistan will lead the way. The political situation in the country has been very tense since his dismissal and the legal proceedings against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Added to this are countrywide economic problems and ethnic tensions, particularly in south-western Balochistan, as well as the increased activity of Islamist groups in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan. These conditions lead to a high potential for escalation around the elections.
From 15 to 17 March, the world’s largest country will hold presidential elections. To win the election, a candidate needs more than 50% of the votes, otherwise a second round will be held on 7 April. After President Putin announced his candidacy in December, international observers assume that he will win the election. Constitutional amendments were only passed in 2020, allowing Putin to run again.
Parliamentary elections are expected to be held in the world’s largest democracy in April or May this year. The election outcome between the country’s two largest multi-party coalitions, the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP, which current Prime Minister Modi heads, and the opposition India National Development Inclusive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress, which was founded primarily to prevent Modi from serving another term in office, is currently forecast to be very close. The allocation of almost all of the country’s major parties to one of the two blocs has led to an increased polarisation of the political landscape. It will depend on how much this polarisation intensifies in the run-up to the elections if the elections are to be peaceful. The last time there was unrest was around the 2023 local elections in West Bengal.
On 15 May 2023, war broke out in Sudan when the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces attacked military bases and the airport in Khartoum. The background to the fighting is a power struggle between the two armed groups following the joint coup in 2021. The turbulent start to the war in the centre of the capital resulted in some chaotic evacuations of foreign nationals. In the last quarter of 2023, after a prolonged stalemate, the RSF made increasing territorial gains, most recently capturing Wad Madani and other towns in the state of Gezira, which borders Khartoum. An end to the fighting through diplomatic means or a military victory for one of the two factions is not in sight any time soon.
The member states of the European Union hold elections to the European Parliament between 6 and 9 June. While the elections in Germany are held exclusively on 9 June, other member states are free to choose an election date within this four-day window.
18 years after the 2006 World Cup, Germany will be hosting the European Football Championship for the third time in total. Matches will take place in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, and Stuttgart. On match days, massive traffic restrictions and increased security measures will be in place for short periods in the selected venues, and similar disruptions are possible in many of the cities where the 24 participating teams will be based throughout the month of the tournament.
The overthrow of the elected government under Mohamed Bazoum in a coup by the presidential guard in 2023 is seen as the provisional end of the last stable democracy in the Sahel region. The military government, which moved closer to Russia in the following months and cooperated closely with Burkina Faso and Mali, which had come under military rule the previous year, only cancelled further military cooperation agreements with the European Union in November. The military government has not yet published a timetable for the further development of the country and it is therefore unclear whether a handover to a civilian government would be possible in the coming months.
The Olympic Games in Paris are the biggest sporting event of the year and, due to the heightened security situation in Europe since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on 7 October 2023, discussions are already taking place in the run-up to the event about details of the schedule and the extent of the security measures. In parts of the centre of Paris, security zones will be set up at various times during the Games. These may only be entered by residents, participants and visitors to the Games. In addition to the increased security measures, massive traffic restrictions are also to be expected in Paris during this period. Individual competitions will also be held in other cities in France and the surfing competition will take place in Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean.
Following the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games will also take place in Paris between 28 August and 8 September.
On 30 August 2023, military groups led by General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema captured and deposed the reconfirmed President Ali Bongo Ondimba shortly after the election results were announced. The Bongo family had previously ruled the country for 56 years and both opposition groups and international election observers published their doubts regarding the legitimacy of the elections. However, interim president Oligui is also a distant relative of the Bongo dynasty. In the weeks following the coup, which was largely peaceful, the military government stated that it wanted to “restore” the country’s democracy, although the next elections are not due to take place until August 2025. Members of various political groups are involved in the transitional government, but no politicians from the largest opposition coalition Alternance 2023.
The most highly anticipated international election in 2024 is undoubtedly the presidential election in the USA. In all likelihood, the election will take place between incumbent President Biden and former President Trump. Following the unrest surrounding the confirmation of the election results on 6 January 2021 and due to the general bipolar division of the political system in the United States, the security situation during the 2024 elections is also considered tense. No predictions can yet be made about the possible outcome of the election and a close race is expected.
You will find a more comprehensive presentation of the events and background surrounding the US elections by our analyst Spencer Alexander in our 2024 Travel Risk Outlook from 3 January.
According to all current reports, the UK government is expected to call a general election in 2024, although the latest possible legal election date is 28 January 2025. Nevertheless, these elections will also be briefly addressed here.
Election dates discussed in non-official sources are usually 2 May, 10 October or 12 December and, in theory, elections can be called at short notice at any time within 25 working days. The last phase of the Conservative Party’s government was characterised by the turmoil within the party following the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May in connection with the EU exit negotiations, Boris Johnson’s subsequent election victory and his withdrawal after accusations of having violated his own measures to combat the pandemic and Liz Truss’ term of office of only roughly six weeks. While the number of intra-party scandals declined following the appointment of Rishi Sunak as the new Prime Minister, the party’s poll ratings recovered only slightly and, according to recent pre-election polls, the Conservative Party has consistently had fewer supporters than the opposition Labour Party since December 2021. In the second half of 2023, the gap was mostly between 15 and 20 % of the vote.