Political Risks in Election Hotspots – Places to Watch Out For in 2016

We live in a new political world. As many countries continue to struggle with depressed economies, there is civil unrest during many elections. This poses a large risk to businesses from property damage or lack of revenue from protests.

Clements Worldwide encourages multinational companies to look at their protections in countries with upcoming elections, and potential civil unrest.

Recent Election Violence

The Philippines’ Election Day on May 9, 2016 saw violence at polling stations that killed at least 10 people and wounded three others. Seven people were killed in the most deadly attack in Rosario, a town near Minla known for political violence. A voter was killed inside a polling station in Guindulungan, Maguindanao, which is reported to be ruled by warlord-politicians. In Sultan Kudarat, Muslim rebels infiltrated a voting center and stole vote-counting machines.

Political violence has long been an issue in the Philippines, because of corruption and political dynasties that have their own security forces.

Republic of Congo’s re-election of Denis Sassou-Nguesso as president of the Republic of Congo in March was followed by violence when armed men attacked police stations and a mayor’s office. Violence was feared in the country when a change to the constitution was amended to remove term limits and allow Sassou-Nguesso to run for president past the age of 70. Opposition leaders claimed the election results were fraudulent. No deaths were reported as a result of the attacks.

Bangladesh’s local elections in March led to violence that killed at least 13 people. The violence was between rival parties and security forces firing on rioters. The violence wasn’t expected because while national elections have seen their share of attacks over the years, polling at the local level had been peaceful in recent years. Violence by Islamist extremist led to increased security, which resulted in such incidents as a mob taking a police office hostage and attempting to steal ballot boxes.

Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections last December elected members to municipal councils, which have limited powers involving local matters, such as trash collections. Newsworthy was the fact that for the first time women were allowed to vote and run, with about 1,000 candidates being women. However, because of Saudi laws, female candidates were allowed to address women voters only. Still, about 20 women were elected.

Myanmar held its first openly contested general election in 25 years last November, with the socialist liberal National League for Democracy winning 86 percent of the vote. While the party’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Noble Prize Winner, is ineligible to be president, she holds the titles of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of President’s Office, and is a powerful voice in President Htin Kyaw’s cabinet.

Poland’s parliamentary election last October saw opponents of the ruling Civic Platform party accusing its leaders of corruption. The opposition Law and Justice party won the election, and Beata Szydlo replaced Ewa Kopacz as prime minister.

Burundi saw dozens of people killed over protests of the controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza in July 2015. Protesters claimed Nkurunziza wasn’t eligible for a third term, but a court ruled that he was because his first election came via a parliamentary vote as opposed to a popular vote.

Mexico’s June 2015 legislative elections saw the murder of six candidates in states where drug trafficking and corruption are prominent.

2016 Upcoming Elections with Potential Civil Unrest

Clements Worldwide has been monitoring several elections in the upcoming year that have the potential to lead to political turmoil and civil unrest.

Congo is being encouraged by the European Union to update its political process to improve the chance of free, fair and inclusive polls.

Ministers from the EU asked authorities to establish a calendar and process the vote, scheduled for November, and update electoral lists. President Joseph Kabila is attempting to avoid a national election, and thus stay in office beyond the constitutionally mandated end of his term this year. Meanwhile Moise Katumbi, the top opposition candidate went to South Africa, reportedly for medical treatment, after a warrant for his arrest as issued. The charge is hiring mercenaries, but Katumbi’s supporters claim the charges are politically motivated.

Kenya has been the site of four weeks of protest over its electoral commission, with the opposition Cord alliance wanting members to resign with a presidential election scheduled for 2017. In May, three people died during protests, with police claiming two people were shot in Siaya in self-defense. Cord is accusing the governing Jubille coalition of bias and wants it replaced by a neutral organizing body.

Peru will hold a second round of its presidential election on June 2016. Keiko Fujimori, daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, won the first round. Her father’s conviction for embezzlement and bribery has haunted her, but her platform, focused on crime and job growth, has connected with poorer voters. She also has pledged to support human rights and fight corruption, but allegations of money laundering (which she denies) could lead to a complicated election.

Zambia‘s president and parliamentary elections scheduled for August have seen political opponents of President Edgar Lungu are being arrest. Eric Chanda, a member of the 4th Revolution Party, was charged with defaming Lungu after claiming the president wasted taxpayers’ money by partying and clubbing while on vacation. He could spend five years in prison.

Geoffrey Mwamba of the United Party for National Development, was accused of training a militia and threatening Lungu. The president also is dealing with a struggling economy, and power shortages that are affecting productivity.

Spain will hold elections in June 2016, with all 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies at stake, as well as 208 of the 266 Senate seats. Due to numerous scandals over the past few years, including allegations of corruption, bribery, and tax fraud, the rival political parties are fraught with tension. While Spain’s economy is growing at a robust 2.6 percent annual rate in 2015, unemployment rates are still high at 23 percent, giving rise to citizens to protest Spain’s current political conditions. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party lost its majority in 2015. He remains acting prime minister, but it’s unsure how much longer he’ll remain in power

Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in October 2016. There has been unrest regarding an overhaul of the electoral system and a dispute between the two main candidates from the 2014 presidential election. In January, the October date for elections was announced, and was followed by controversy, with reports that Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, did not consult with the government when arranging the date. The government’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, criticized the scheduling process because election reforms had not been implemented.

Meanwhile, the country’s unity government, which the U.S. brokered in 2014, is at risk because the agreement required local elections be held by October, and those elections already have been delayed.

Important Insurance to Explore

For multinational organizations, it is necessary to pay attention to current and future political elections that might lead to violence and civil unrest. The following types of insurance can help prevent economic damage to businesses if political turmoil occurs:

Clements offers Political Violence and War & Terrorism coverage against the risks of civil unrest, war, and acts of terrorism. Clements offers custom policies and programs that cover individuals and organizations against riots, looting, and other risks. The political violence extension can be added to such polices as Fleet, Business Property and Liability insurance, Transit and Cargo, DBA, and Personal Accident.

Clements Worldwide encourages companies with international interests to be aware of political elections as a possible source of civil unrest. Planning ahead for potential problems can save your company a great deal of time, money, and stress. For the latest information on safety and security, visit Clements’ country risk assessment guides.

For further insight into political unrest, see Clements’ articles on the Top 5 Potential Hot Spots based on surging unemployment rates and civil unrest. Find out the Key Types of Political Violence Businesses Should Monitor.

Keeping your employees safe is our priority. Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or e-mail request@clements.com to discuss how we can tailor our policy to meet the size and scope of your organization. 

Top 5 Potential Hot Spots