Europe This Week: March 29, 2023

March 29, 2023

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

Casa de la Vall, which used to house Andorra’s parliament. Andorra holds elections on Sunday, April 2, along with several other European countries. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Maria Rosa Ferre (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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

Stoyan Nenov, Reuters (March 29, 2023): Disillusioned Bulgarians head to polls for fifth time in two years

RFE/RL (March 29, 2023): Ex-Cons And Extremists Turn Media Debates Into ‘Circus’ Ahead Of Yet More Bulgarian Elections

Balkan Insight (March 29, 2023): Bomb Threats to Schools Rattle Bulgaria Ahead of Elections

RFE/RL (March 28, 2023): Bulgaria Suspects Russian Role In Bomb Threats Closing Schools For Second Day

Montenegro Presidential Runoff: April 2, 2023 and Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 11, 2023

Montenegro holds a presidential runofff on April 2, following the first round of the election on March 19. Incumbent Milo Djukanovic, who has been president or PM for 33 years, will face former economy minister Jakov Milatovic.

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.

AP (March 28, 2023): Montenegro’s president: EU’s neglect gave Russia a platform

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.

As far as who will be prime minister following the elections, it remains anyone’s game. The three main contenders are Marin, National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo, or the nationalist Finns Party leader Riikka Purra.

Erika Benke, BBC (March 26, 2023): Finland election: Sanna Marin fights for survival

David Mac Dougall, Euronews (March 25, 2023): Pretty fly for white guys: Politicians in Finland rap for votes ahead of election

AP (March 23, 2023): Finnish president signs required laws to let country enter NATO

Andorra Parliamentary Elections: April 2, 2023

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

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, which longtime minister Humza Yousaf won. Yousaf succeeds Sturgeon as first minister.

Even though voters rejected Scottish independence in a 2014 referendum, the SNP has been demanding a new referendum. As Lauren Kent at CNN notes: “Yousaf takes over a party with an overriding objective to end Scotland’s three-centuries-long union with England. But while about four in 10 Scots still support independence, according to a poll this month, the departure of Sturgeon – a charismatic and commanding leader – may slow some of the momentum behind a break-up of the United Kingdom.”

Dan Bloom, Politico (March 28, 2023): Jeremy Corbyn formally blocked from running for Labour at next election

Glenn Campbell, BBC (March 28, 2023): What next for Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and Scotland?

Lauren Kent, CNN, with Reuters (March 27, 2023): Humza Yousaf wins race to replace Sturgeon as Scotland’s next leader

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 and a train crash that killed dozens of people.

Nektaria Stamouli, Politico (March 28, 2023): Greece to hold national election on May 21

Euractiv (March 28, 2023): Greek elections: First round projections show deadlock

Switzerland Federal Parliamentary Elections: October 22, 2023 (various cantonal and local elections before and after)

Sam Jones, Financial Times (March 25, 2023): A very Swiss identity crisis: The country’s sense of self as a haven for the world’s money and a beacon of neutrality is being shaken

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

Fernando Heller, Euractiv (March 28, 2023): Spanish prime minister reshuffles cabinet before elections

Reuters (March 27, 2023): Spain’s conservatives seen winning general election, poll shows

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

Reuters (March 23, 2023): Poland’s ruling nationalists push John Paul II’s legacy to election centre stage

North Macedonia General Elections: 2024 (snap elections possible)

Aleksandar Samardjiev, OBC Transeuropa (March 24, 2023): North Macedonia, a government in perpetual transformation

Konstantin Testorides, AP (March 23, 2023): Germany urges North Macedonia to amend charter for EU bid

Past Europe Elections

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. 

Mait Ots, ERR News (March 27, 2023): New government to take office likely in the second half of April

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.

Finland General Elections: April 2, 2023

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

Andorra Parliamentary Elections: April 2, 2023

Montenegro Presidential Runoff: April 2, 2023

Switzerland, Cantonal Elections in Geneva, Ticino, and Lucerne: April 2, 2023

Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Regional and Local Elections: April 2-3, 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

Greece Parliamentary Elections: May 21, 2023

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

Latvia Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): May 31, 2023

Greece Local Elections: May 2023 (due)

Montenegro Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 11, 2023

Luxembourg Local Elections: June 11, 2023

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

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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