Dec. 19, 2013, 1:04 p.m.
Welcome to ElectionGuide.org's newest feature. As 2013 draws to a close, we take a look back on the year in elections around the world. The first features the month of January.
Czech Republic (January 11-12 and 25-26, 2013): Voters in the Czech Republic participated in the country’s first ever direct election for the office of president. Previously, the President had been elected indirectly from Parliament; however, a law change created a direct election for the office. The election was done on the basis of the winning candidate winning a majority vote. Nine candidates contested the first round of the election, and no candidate attained an absolute majority. The second round of the election pitted former Prime Minister Miloš ZEMAN against the Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel SCHWARZENBERG. ZEMAN prevailed in the second round of the election, winning 54.80 percent of the votes.
Austria (January 20, 2013): Austria remains one of six European Union countries that requires its citizens to undergo mandatory military service. On January 20, 2013, voters in Austria participated in a referendum, where they were asked “Are you in favor of the introduction of a professional army and a paid voluntary social year?” as an alternative to mandatory military service. In the referendum, 40.32 percent voted in favor of the proposed change, whereas 59.68 percent voted against the change. The referendum was non-binding on the government.
Israel (January 22, 2013): Following the failure to pass a budget in October 2012, early elections to the Knesset were held on January 22, 2013. At stake in the election were 120 seats, elected through closed-list proportional representation, with a 2 percent electoral threshold. Given the low, electoral threshold, 12 parties gained seats in the 19th Knesset. The Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu Party of Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU won the most seats in the election, winning 31 seats after receiving 23.32 percent of the vote. A new centrist party, Yesh Atid, finished second in the polls, with 14.32 percent of the vote and 19 seats in the Knesset. Following the election, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu formed a coalition with Yesh Atid, the Jewish Home, and Hatnuah to form the 33rd government of Israel.
Jordan (January 23, 2013): Early general elections were held in Jordan on January 23, 2013. These were the first elections contested under a new election law, which allowed voters to cast two ballots; one for a candidate in their constituency and one for party lists elected by proportional representation at the national level. In the election, 27 seats were available at the national level for political parties, and 22 parties won seats in the House of Representatives. The other 123 seats elected in constituencies and reserved for women, were all filled by independent candidates.
Bulgaria (January 27, 2013): A referendum was held in Bulgaria to determine whether or not citizens wanted to construct a new power plant. Although not referenced in the referendum question, the most likely place for construction was Belene, Bulgaria, where earlier plans to construct a nuclear power plant were scrapped due to the budget. Proponents of the power plant argued that the construction would allow Bulgaria to decrease its reliance on importing electricity from Romania and Turkey. A majority of voters (61.49 percent) voted in favor of the referendum; however, as 60% of the electorate did not participate, the referendum is non-binding on the government.