2023 was marked by the worst of international politics. Conflict, famine and refugee flows were all at record highs. Those trends will continue into 2024. But it is notable that 2024 also offers a litmus test for gauging how populations around the world are responding to those crises: elections.
Globally, over 60 countries will hold elections this year, a record. Indeed, 2024 is being labeled “the ultimate election year.” But these elections have an added significance in light of discussions and debate over the past few years regarding the global decline of democracy. Of course, elections alone are not a sufficient indicator of a heathy democracy. The elections must be conducted freely and fairly, with the loser accepting the results. Indeed, despite the record number of elections, some worry that 2024 could be a rough year for democracy and that, depending on the outcome, the result of the coming year’s elections could tip the world toward more autocracy.
Admittedly, some of this year’s elections are performative, namely the upcoming presidential election in Russia. Somewhat more meaningful are the legislative elections scheduled to take place in Iran, though the unelected Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains the supreme leader of the country.