Europe This Week: March 1, 2023

March 1, 2023

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

The border of Estonia and Russia at Narva, with Russia’s Ivangorod Palace in the frame. The river forms the border. Photo credit: 21votes (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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. 

David Mac Dougall, Euronews (March 1, 2023): Your quick and easy guide to Estonia’s general election

Tobias Gerhard Schminke, Euractiv (February 27, 2023): Estonian elections: Home match for Renew Europe

Nadia Pantel, Spiegel (February 25, 2023): How Kaja Kallas Rose To Become One of Europe’s Leading Voices

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.

AFP (February 28, 2023): Finland girds for vote on joining NATO despite Sweden delay

AFP (February 23, 2023): Finland says will send three Leopard tanks to Ukraine

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

Sofia Globe (March 1, 2023): Ahead of Bulgaria’s April elections, Alpha Research poll shows WCC-DB, GERB-UDF neck-and-neck

Antonia Kokalova-Gray, See News (March 1, 2023): Bulgaria’s reformist WCC-DB takes narrow lead in polls ahead of snap vote

Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (February 27, 2023): Bulgarian test for US Magnitsky Act

AP (February 23, 2023): EU dampens Bulgaria’s hopes of joining eurozone before 2025

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.

Karel Janicek, AP (March 1, 2023): Slovakia basks under NATO umbrella, sends Ukraine old arms

Albin Siberia, bne Intellinews (February 27, 2023): Slovakia’s Smer back on top of opinion polls ahead of snap election

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.”

Menelaos Hadjicostis, AP (February 28, 2023): Cyprus’ new president says country on firm Western footing

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

Bosnia now has a government following October 2022 elections. For the first time in over a decade, SDA, the main Bosniak party, will not be part of the government. 

The government was formed very quickly by Bosnian standards – typically, it takes more than a year, but this time, only three months. The new prime minister will be ethnic Croat Borjana Kristo.

Denitsa Koseva at bne IntelliNews notes: “When Kristo was nominated in December, she said she would lead the government towards restarting the process of integration in the EU. Since then, in mid-December, Bosnia was granted EU candidate status after years of waiting.”

Hamza Karic, Foreign Policy (February 27, 2023): NATO Needs to Welcome Bosnia Before It’s Too Late: With pro-Russian actors on the rise, the window of opportunity is closing

Dariusz Kalan, Foreign Policy (February 24, 2023): Bosnia’s Peace Envoy Is Caught in a Political Tug of War: Constitutional changes orchestrated by German diplomat Christian Schmidt have led to stalemate, but he won’t compromise

Regional News and Analysis

Aura Sabadus, CEPA (February 28, 2023): Europe’s Russian Gas War Has Only Just Begun

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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