Europe This Week: February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Europe, usually posted on Wednesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

A harbor at Mustvee, Estonia, on Lake Peipus, site of the famous 1242 “Battle on the Ice” between the Teutonic Knights and the forces of Alexander Nevsky. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Wilson44691 (public domain)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Estonia Parliamentary Elections: March 5, 2023

Since January 2021, Estonia’s government has been a grand coalition of the center-right Reform Party and the centrist Centre Party, which has historically been supported by Estonia’s Russian community. Following the 2019 elections, Centre shocked the country by forming a government with the far-right EKRE, but PM Juri Ratas was forced to resign in January 2021 following a real estate scandal. Subsequently, Reform – previously in opposition – formed a coalition with Centre as the junior partner, making Reform’s Kaja Kallas Estonia’s first female prime minister. 

However, in June 2022, Centre withdrew from the government. Kallas must now find more coalition partners in order to prevent the government from collapsing, which would trigger early elections.

This is all happening in the context of major security concerns. Because Estonia is a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy, Russia has for a long time targeted the country with cyberattacks and other provocations. In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, security concerns are at the top of Estonians’ minds. More

Euractiv (February 21, 2023): Estonia gears up for elections amid Russian invasion fears

Karl Ritter, AP (February 19, 2023): Estonian leader: Russia must be held accountable after war

Finland General Elections: April 2, 2023

Finland’s general elections are taking place in the context of its bid to join NATO after ending a long-standing policy of neutrality. Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats are behind the center-right National Coalition Party in the polls. While Marin remains popular with voters, many Finns are concerned about the country’s rising debt.

Sharyn Alfonsi, CBS News (February 19, 2023 – video): Sanna Marin: Finland’s 37-year-old prime minister

Bulgaria Snap Parliamentary Elections: April 2, 2023 (fifth election in two years)

Martin Penov, Emerging Europe (February 21, 2023): Left out of Schengen, Bulgaria and Romania seek to expand cooperation across the Danube

Slav Okov and Alexander Weber, Bloomberg (February 17, 2023): Why Bulgaria Abandoned Its Goal to Join Euro in 2024

RFE/RL (February 18, 2023): Bulgaria Will Not Make It Into Eurozone In January 2024 As Planned

Simon Parry, South China Morning Post (February 18, 2023): High-profile ‘Belt and Road’ plan to build Europe’s first ‘smart city’ in Bulgaria lies in tatters

United Kingdom, Local Elections in Some Parts of England: May 4, 2023, followed by general elections due in 2024

Laura Kuessberg, BBC (February 19, 2023): Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, NI Protocol: A week that changed UK politics?

Chris Mason, BBC (February 16, 2023): Nicola Sturgeon resignation: Where does it leave the future of the UK?

Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks, The Guardian (February 16, 2023): Sturgeon exit may delay new Scotland independence vote by five years

Slovakia Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 30, 2023

A center-right, broadly Atlanticist coalition unseated Slovakia’s left-wing populist government in 2020, but the coalition has had trouble staying together. The opposition has been pushing for snap elections and parliament has agreed to change the law to allow them to be held.

Geopolitical impact: If former PM Robert Fico wins the elections and gets back in office, he could change Slovakia’s position toward Ukraine. Slovakia currently backs Kyiv, but Fico opposes sending weapons and has become even more pro-Russia in his time out of office.

Slovak Spectator (February 21, 2023): Fitch warns against potential anti-Western government in Slovakia after early elections

Michal Hudec, Euractiv (February 16, 2023): To raise turnout, former Slovak PM proposes €500 per voter

Poland Parliamentary and Local Elections (due – earlier elections possible): November 11, 2023

Loved Morris, Washington Post (February 22, 2023): Poland is on a quest to have Europe’s strongest military — with U.S. arms

Kelly Hooper, Politico (February 21, 2023): In Poland, Biden says ‘NATO is stronger than it’s ever been’

European Parliament Elections: May 2024 (due)

Zoya Sheftalovich, Politico (February 17, 2023): EU to Steve Bannon: You don’t scare us … anymore

Past Europe Elections

Cyprus Presidential Runoff: February 12, 2023

Former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides defeated career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis in Cyprus’s presidential runoff. 

Andria Kades at Cyprus Mail notes: “For the first time in Cyprus’ political history, the two biggest parties of the country have failed to get their preferred presidential candidate elected to power, marking the diminishing power Akel and Disy are currently faced with, according to elections expert Yiannis Mavris.”

Reuters (Februar 16, 2023): Cyprus’s estranged leaders to meet Feb. 23-president elect’s office

Cyprus News Agency (February 16, 2023): Christodoulides’ election suggests ‘continued fiscal discipline’ – Moody’s

Czech Republic Presidential Runoff: January 27-28, 2023

Retired general Petr Pavel defeated controversial former prime minister Andrej Babiš in the Czech Republic’s presidential runoff in January. Incumbent Milos Zeman, who has been in power for 10 years and did not run for re-election, built closer ties with Russia and China.

Pavel, a former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, favors pro-West policies, while populist Babiš has criticized support for Ukraine and the EU more generally. (February 16, 2023): Prague finally gets new mayor five months after elections: The Pirates, STAN, and Spolu have signed a coalition agreement outlining how the parties will work together to run the city

Latvia General Elections: October 1, 2022

Will Mawhood and Eilish Hart, Meduza (February 16, 2023): Progresīvie and Gen Z: A leftward shift for Latvia?

Serbia General Elections: April 3, 2022

Talha Ozturk, Anadolu Agency (February 16, 2023): Serbian president signals possible snap vote after protest against normalization

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2023

Several European countries hold elections that determine who runs the government: Cyprus (fun fact: Cyprus is the EU’s only full presidential system), Monaco, Estonia, Andorra, Finland, Greece, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Poland, and Spain.

In addition, Montenegro and Slovakia appear on track to hold snap elections. And Bulgaria could hold its fourth general election in three years.

Moreover, a number of other countries in Europe could hold snap elections at short notice – it happens.

Slovakia Referendum on Early Elections: January 21, 2023

Czech Republic Presidential Runoff: January 27-28, 2023

Austria, Lower Austria State Elections: January 29, 2023

Cyprus Presidential Election: February 5, 2023

Monaco Parliamentary Elections: February 5, 2023

Cyprus Presidential Runoff: February 12, 2023

Germany, Berlin State Elections: February 12, 2023

Italy, Lazio and Lombardy Regional Elections: February 12, 2023

Estonia General Elections: March 5, 2023

albniaLithuania Local Elections: March 5, 2023

Liechtenstein Local Elections: March 5, 2023

Austria, Carinthia State Elections: March 5, 2023

Netherlands Provincial Council and Water Authority Elections: March 15, 2023

Montenegro Presidential Election: March 19, 2023 (snap parliamentary elections possible)

Finland General Elections: April 2, 2023

Bulgaria Snap Parliamentary Elections: April 2, 2023 (fifth election in two years)

Andorra Parliamentary Elections: April 2, 2023

Austria, Salzburg State Elections: April 23, 2023

Kosovo Partial Local Elections: April 23, 2023

United Kingdom, Local Elections in Some Parts of England: May 4, 2023

Albania Local Elections: May 14, 2023

Germany, Bremen State Elections and Local Elections in Schleswig-Holstein: May 14, 2023

United Kingdom, Local Elections in Northern Ireland: May 18, 2023

Spain Local Elections and Various Regional Elections: May 28, 2023

Latvia Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): May 2023 (due)

Greece Local Elections: May 2023 (due)

Luxembourg Local Elections: June 11, 2023

Spain, Regional Elections in Various Regions: June 25, 2023

Greece Parliamentary Elections: July 2023 (due)

Norway Local Elections: September 11, 2023

Slovakia Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 30, 2023 (proposed – requires parliament to change constitution to allow)

Germany, Hesse and Bavaria State Elections: October 8, 2023

Luxembourg General Elections: October 8, 2023

Switzerland Federal Parliamentary Elections: October 22, 2023

Bulgaria Local Elections: October 2023 (due)

Finland, Åland Elections: October 2023 (due)

Portugal, Regional Elections in Madeira: October 2023 (due)

Poland Parliamentary and Local Elections (due – earlier elections possible): November 11, 2023

Spain General Elections: December 10, 2023 (due – early elections possible)

Switzerland Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): December 12, 2023

Andorra Local Elections: December 2023 (due)

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