The Pacific island nation of Palau will hold a presidential and legislative election today. A small nation of less than
The Pacific island nation of Palau will hold a presidential and legislative election today.
A small nation of less than 20,000 people, Palau has no political parties, and so all office-seekers (presidential and legislative candidates) are running as independents. The presidency is contested by Vice President Raynold Oilouch and Senator Surangel Whipps Jr., a local businessman and brother-in-law to the outgoing president, Thomas Remenegsau. Both candidates won the most votes in their primary election in September, though Whipps’ vote tally was significantly higher than Oilouch’s.
Whipps is running on a platform to cut taxes and invest in education, which appears to be gaining traction as the economy stalls from the lack of tourism resulting from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Oilouch’s chances depend on the appeal of continuity with his predecessor. However, that may ring hollow to voters who want a less vulnerable economy—GDP is projected to shrink by 9.5% in 2020 and by 12.5% in 2021. Thus, expect Whipps to win the presidency.
In terms of foreign policy, both candidates remain committed to Taiwanese recognition despite Chinese threats. Additionally, both will likely seek to maintain Palau’s historically close relationship with the US.