In terms of sheer numbers, April is the most democratic month the world has ever seen as national elections take place in half a dozen countries with total electorates of more than one billion people – in India, Afghanistan, Hungary, Indonesia, Algeria and Iraq.
Date: 7 April to 12 May
No of voters: 815 million
Frontrunner: Narendra Modi
Free and fair factor: (out of 5, where 1 is corrupt and 5 is pure democracy) 3
Biggest anxiety: ensuring six weeks of rolling elections pass off with no disasters “manmade or natural”, according to the election commission chief
What it means for the world: a new PM needs to galvanise India’s stuttering economy and engage with regional partners and adversaries to assure peace and prosperity in south Asia
Date: 5 April
No of voters: 12 million
Frontrunners: Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Zalmai Rassoul
Free and fair factor: 2
Biggest anxiety: a Taliban campaign of violence could mar voting tomorrow on Saturday; inconclusivity and rancour could destabilise the aftermath
What it means for the world: a first peaceful democratic transfer of power would be a major achievement, but it is only half the battle. The new president needs to unite a perennially divided nation, raise living standards and prospects, stand up to regional power brokers and fill the security void left by departing western troops
Date: 9 April (parliamentary), July (presidential)
Number of voters: 186.5 million
Frontrunner: opposition Indonesian Democratic party (PDI-P) of presidential favourite, Joko Widodo
Free and fair factor: four
Biggest anxiety: election-related violence has troubled the province of Aceh recently
What it means for the world: Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy, south-east Asia’s largest economy, a G20 member, and home to the world’s largest Muslim population. It matters
Date: 6 April
No of voters: 7.5 million
Frontrunner: Current prime minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party
Free and fair factor: 4
Biggest anxiety: another overwhelming victory for a party showing increasingly authoritarian tendencies
What it means for the world: Orbán is pioneering a model that others in eastern Europe might be tempted to follow
Date: 17 April
No of voters: 21 million
Frontrunner: Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Free and fair factor: 3
Biggest anxiety: Bouteflika has been in place for 15 years; this election glosses over the bigger question: who comes next?
What it means for the world: Europe will want stability from a near neighbour constantly threatened by Islamic insurgents, but whose energy exports are becoming increasingly important to the continent
Date: 30 April
No of voters: 18 million
Frontrunner: Nuri al-Maliki
Free and fair factor: 2
Biggest anxiety: full-scale insurgency, spilling over from Syria, makes security parlous across much of the west of the country
What it means for the world: country that cost so many lives appears to be backsliding towards autocracy and instability, rendering democracy almost irrelevant. Would further carnage trigger an American re-engagement?
Thailand elections not for a year, says coup leader
The leader of Thailand’s military coup has said elections will not be held for more than a year, to allow time for political reconciliation and reform.
In a televised address, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha called on all sides to co-operate and stop protesting.
He repeated warnings against any resistance to the military.
The Thai army seized power on 22 May, and detained senior politicians for several days saying stability had to be restored after months of unrest.
In his first public address since the coup, Gen Prayuth said: “The (ruling military regime) have a timeframe of one year and three months to move towards elections,
“Enough time has been wasted on conflict.”
Gen Prayuth said a first phase of about three months would focus on “reconciliation” with a cabinet and new draft constitution put in place.
Reforms would then be introduced over a second, year-long, period and only after this could elections be held.
“Give us time to solve the problems for you. Then the soldiers will step back to look at Thailand from afar,” he added.
Gen Prayuth has previously warned that if protests continued he would have no choice but to use force.
In his address he repeated the warnings, saying resistance would only slow the process of bringing “happiness” back to the Thai people.
Also on Friday, hundreds of troops sealed off a major Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour to prevent a possible protest.
Thailand’s military stepped in after six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
Since taking power the military has summoned and detained dozens of key political figures, including Ms Yingluck. She has been released but remains under some restrictions.
Journalists and academics are also among those who have been called in.
On Monday the coup leaders received royal endorsement. However, the military’s actions in removing an elected government has drawn widespread international criticism.
The current deadlock dates from 2006, when the military ousted Ms Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in a coup.
Both have strong support in rural and northern areas, propelling them to successive election wins.
However, many in the middle class and urban elite, who comprise the heart of the anti-government movement that began in November 2013, oppose them bitterly.