International Elections and Leaders: May 2019 Update

Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abdin, the head of the new Sudanese military council's political committee, addresses a press conference after Sudan's army ousted president Omar al-Bashir. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

The REIGN Dataset (Rulers, Elections, and Irregular Governance) covers political conditions in every country each and every month. We update the data set monthly to reflect the most recent political events, such as coups, world elections, and changes in political leadership. We also provide monthly election coverage and track leadership changes in a series of updates called International Elections and Leaders.

International Elections

Eight elections to determine a new executive occurred in April with Europe holding half of the major election events.


In Andorra, a parliamentary election was held on April 7th. The incumbent Democrats for Andorra party lost its majority status while the Social Democratic Party gained enough seats to become the second largest party. Democrats leader Xavier Espot will now need to form a coalition while facing significant popular unrest and calls for economic reform. It will be important to watch Andorra for the next couple of months as the parties navigate government formation while eyeing reform.

Finland held its parliamentary election on April 14th. The election was a defeat for incumbent prime minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party following the loss of 18 seats. The Social Democratic Party and the Green League picked up the most seats while the center-right Finns and National Coalition parties each picked up one new seat. This is the first election in which no party received more than 20 percent of the vote, and it will be up to the Social Democrats to try and form a coalition, one that will likely include at least one of the center-right factions.

Ukraine concluded a second round of voting for the presidency on April 21st. Comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelensky defeated incumbent Poroshenko by securing a resounding 73.22 percent of the vote. Zelensky will offer a new perspective on Ukrainian politics but will need to immediately contend with difficult political issues, namely, promised anti-corruption reforms and the ongoing civil conflict in Eastern Ukraine and Russian military intervention.

Spain held its general election on April 28th. Incumbent prime minister Pedro Sanchez and his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party won the most seats with 28.7 percent of the vote. While the leftist bloc fell 11 seats short of an absolute majority, the leftist contingent of parties will most likely be able to secure a new government going forward. The socialist party also won an absolute majority in the Senate thereby ending 25 years of conservative party control.

Middle East and North Africa

Israel held its parliamentary election early on April 9th. Centrist challengers Blue and White gained 24 seats in the Knesset but were unable to prevent incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party from potentially securing another right-wing government. Netanyahu will have until mid-May to form a new government and will have to do so with the shadow of the Gaza conflict and pending criminal charges lurking behind him.

Egypt held a constitutional referendum between April 19th and April 21st. The referendum passed with 88.8 percent of the vote and granted incumbent president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi an additional term that allows him to stay in power until 2030. Supporters of the referendum argued that Sisi needed more time to enact political reforms, while opponents argue that the referendum would result in further erosion of the separation of powers and further enshrine the military’s role in government. While the referendum passed with an overwhelming majority, turnout was low at just 44 percent.


Indonesia held its first ever combined executive and legislative election on April 17th. Incumbent president Joko Widodo likely secured enough of the vote for reelection, but official vote counts will not be announced until May 22nd. The election was somewhat contentious and has exposed deepening cleavages based on both ethnic and religious divisions. Additionally, opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto will likely challenge any result in favor of Widodo in the nation’s supreme court. Keep an eye on Indonesia in the run-up to the official announcement of results.

The Solomon Islands held its general election on April 3rd. Manasseh Sogavare of the Independent Party was elected as prime minister, displacing incumbent Rick Houenipwela of the Democratic Alliance. The election was thought to be free and fair, but authorities remained cautious as military intelligence suggested that some groups had plans to stoke or engage in election-related violence.

New Leaders

Four leaders transitioned to power in April.


In San Marino, the biannual changing of the Captains Regent took place as scheduled on April 1st. Nicola Selva, a former Olympic sprinter, and Michele Muratori, a career public servant, will share power until the first of October.

Middle East and North Africa

Following large-scale popular protest and a standoff with the military, longtime Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned from the presidency on April 2nd. Abdelkader Bensalah has been appointed as the acting head of state following Bouteflika’s resignation and will serve as acting leader until new presidential elections are held. Elections are scheduled for July 4th, but it will be necessary to keep an eye on Algeria in the run-up to the election. Popular protests have not dissipated, and there are rumors of the military’s discontent with the interim government.

Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sudan, a military coup ended Omar al-Bashir’s nearly 30 years of rule on April 11th. Sudan has faced large popular protests since December of last year, and rumors of al-Bashir’s increasingly tenuous grip on power remained at the forefront of Sudanese politics. Two leaders have taken power since Bashir’s exit so far. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, a Sudanese army general officer, took charge of the country for one day before stepping down for Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. Burhan is currently in charge of the transitional military council and will be tasked with coming to a compromise with civilian political leaders to form a transitional plan moving forward.

Elections to Watch in May

Six elections to choose a new executive will occur in May. Belgium will hold its federal election on May 26th. Lithuania will hold its first-round presidential election on May 12th and a second round on May 26th. Malawi will hold a general election on May 21st. South Africa will hold a general election on May 8th. India started the first phase of its general election on April 11th and will conclude voting on May 19th. Finally, Panama will hold a general election on May 5th.

Interested in more election coverage? Visit the REIGN Dataset page, or read the most recent update on international elections and leaders. 

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