Europe This Week: March 15, 2023

March 15, 2023

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

A farmers’ protest in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo credit: Wikimedia/kees torn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Montenegro Presidential Election: March 19, 2023

Montenegro holds a presidential election in March 2023. Parliamentary elections are due by August 2024, but snap polls are likely. 

The last elections, the fifth since independence from Serbia in 2006, took place in August 2020. Although the pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists, which has been in power for 30 years, won the most seats, they did not win a majority, and a coalition of opposition parties united to form a government, but that proved short-lived. Several other governments have risen and fallen, and the political situation remains unstable.

Samir Kajosevic, Balkan Insight (March 15, 2023): Montenegro Readies for Cyber Attacks in Presidential Elections

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

Reuters (March 15, 2023): Romania, Bulgaria expect their Schengen entry bid to be approved this year

AP (March 15, 2023): Neighbors Bulgaria, Romania sign agreement to boost ties

Albania Local Elections: May 14, 2023

Fjori Sinoruka, Balkan Insight (March 15, 2023): Albanian Opposition Faces Obstacle to Entering Local Election Race

Greece Parliamentary Elections: Local Elections: May 2023 (due) and July 2023 (due)

Greece is due to hold parliamentary elections by July 2023, but earlier elections are possible. The incumbent center-right government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his center-right New Democracy is facing a number of challenges, including a scandal involving domestic surveillance of political opponents.

Sarantis Michalopoulos, Euractiv (March 15, 2023): Greek polls: Mitsotakis, Tsipras in neck-and-neck race before elections

Hibai Arribe Aza, El País (March 14, 2023): Greece train crash: Government support falls as election looms: The deadly accident is weighing heavily on the minds of voters, but so far the leftist Syriza has been unable to capitalize on the anti-government sentiment

AP (March 13, 2023): Calm after quake: Greek PM says tension with Turkey easing

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

Jamie Dettmer, Politico (March 16, 2023): Poles buckle up for a bumpy election ride: As the ruling Law and Justice party seeks a third straight term in office, the question is just how vitriolic the campaign will become

Tom Junes, Balkan Insight (March 16, 2023): Poland’s Election Year Set to Turn into a Crusade as Politicised Religion Resurfaces

Piotr Bujnicki and Natalia Ojewska, Bloomberg (March 14, 2023): Poland May Send Jets to Kyiv in Coming Weeks, Premier Says

Una Hajdari, Euronews (March 10, 2023): Poland divided after TV documentary alleges Pope John Paul II hid paedophilia

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

Alonso Soto, Bloomberg (March 9, 2023): Why Spain’s Sexual Consent Law Is Dividing the Left

Stratfor (March 8, 2023): Fractures in Spain’s Government Give Right-Wing Parties an Edge Ahead of Elections

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

William Schomberg, Reuters (March 8, 2023): Britain’s Hunt to keep tight budget with eye on 2024 election


Last month, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suddenly announced that she was stepping down. This triggered a leadership contest in her governing Scottish Nationalist Party, and the new leader of the party will then succeed her as First Minister. Voting has begun, and results will be announced on March 27. 

Even though voters rejected Scottish independence in a 2014 referendum, the SNP has been demanding a new referendum.

Andrew McDonald, Politico (March 9, 2023): SNP unity rocked in race to replace Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon

Past Europe Elections

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

Bart H. Meijer at Reuters notes: “The meteoric rise of BBB is a major blow for Rutte’s governing coalition, casting doubt over its aim to drastically cut nitrogen pollution on farms, the single issue upon which BBB was founded in 2019…Rutte’s government, in its fourth consecutive term since 2010, has dropped to a 20 percent approval rating, its lowest in a decade.”

Bart H. Meijer, Reuters (March 15, 2023): Dutch farmers’ protest party scores big election win, shaking up Senate

Mike Corder, AP (March 15, 2023): New populist BBB wins Dutch vote; Rutte coalition down

Gordon Darroch, Dutch News (March 15, 2023): Local elections: How the ‘powerful’ senate eclipsed the provinces

Estonia Parliamentary Elections: March 5, 2023

Estonia’s center-right, pro-west Reform Party came in first place in the March 5 elections, and will likely be able to form a coalition to keep the current prime minister, Kaja Kallas, in power. 

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.

Andrew MacDowall, World Politics Review (March 14, 2023): Estonia’s Election Was More Than Just a Win for Kallas

Germany General Elections: September 26, 2021

In 2021, Germany’s “Superwahljahr” (Super Election Year), Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union lost power and a new “traffic light coalition” formed a government consisting of Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens.

Guy Chazan, Sam Fleming, and Alice Hancock, Financial Times (March 14, 2023): Germany’s ‘unreliable’ coalition hamstrings EU decisions

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.

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)

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.


Share This