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Policy report

Elections during crisis: global lessons from the Asia-Pacific

Election campaigns Elections Political models Asia-Pacific

During 2020 states the world over learned just how challenging it can be to organise full, free, and fair elections in the middle of a pandemic. This paper provides an overview of lessons from the Asia-Pacific region, which highlight innovations and emerging good practice, as well as growing issues of concern. 

Key points:

  • The pandemic has spurred electoral innovations and reform worldwide. While reforms in some states garner global attention – such as attempts at wholesale reforms in the U.S (e.g. early voting) – greater attention should be paid to the Asia-Pacific as a region.
  • A range of positive lessons can be drawn from the conduct of elections in South Korea, New Zealand, Mongolia, and Australia concerning safety measures, effective communication, use of digital technology, advance voting, and postal voting. Innovations across the Asia-Pacific region provide lessons for the world, not only on effectively running elections during a public health emergency, but also pointing to the future of election campaigns, in which early and remote voting becomes more common and online campaigning becomes more central.
  • Experiences elsewhere raise issues to watch out for in forthcoming elections in states and territories undergoing serious ‘pandemic backsliding’ in the protection of political freedoms. Analysis of Singapore and Indonesia indicates a rise in censorship under the pretext of addressing misinformation concerning COVID-19, and (in Indonesia) concerns about ‘vote-buying’ through crisis relief funds. In Hong Kong the electoral and political system has been drastically reshaped in advance of the September elections.
Publication Details
Access Rights Type:
Governing During Crises Policy Brief No.10