April 5, 2023

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

Gurko Street in Veliko Tarnovo, the historical capital of Bulgaria. Bulgaria just held its fifth election in two years and may be headed for another one soon. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mister No (CC BY 3.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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

The United Kingdom holds local elections in some parts of England in May, a test for new PM Rishi Sunak (the fourth prime minister to hold office since the 2019 general elections). 

Meanwhile, in Scotland: 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.”

George Parker and Jim Pickard, Financial Times (April 2, 2023): Local polls set to disrupt narrative of Tory recovery under Rishi Sunak: Experts predict Conservatives could lose 1,000 seats in May’s town hall elections

Andrew McDonald, Politico (March 30, 2023): Corbyn row looms large as Labour’s Starmer launches local elections campaign

Lynn Bennie, Malcolm Harbey, and Judith Sijstermans, London School of Economics (March 29, 2023): Scotland has a new First Minister, but is it the same old Scottish politics?

Greece Parliamentary Elections: May 21, 2023

Greece has set parliamentary elections for May 21, 2023, a week after Turkey goes to the polls. 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.

Sarantis Michalopoulos, Euractiv (April 5, 2023): Greek neo-Nazis seek ‘loopholes’ to run in elections

Kathimerini (March 29, 2023 – podcast): Does the sense of calm prevailing in the Aegean pave the way for dialogue with Turkey after elections?

Montenegro Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 11, 2023 (following presidential elections in March and April 2023)

In Montenegro’s recent presidential election, incumbent Milo Djukanovic, who has been president or PM for 33 years, lost to former economy minister Jakov Milatovic. Next up, the country holds snap parliamentary elections in June.

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.

Nicolas Camut, Politico (April 3, 2023): In Montenegro election, youthful ex-minister Milatović beats longtime leader

Misha Savic and Bloomberg, Fortune (April 3, 2023): A millennial banker who studied at Oxford just ousted Montenegro’s president of 3 decades

Predrag Milic, AP (April 2, 2023): Novice politician Jakov Milatovic wins Montenegro presidency

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

AFP (April 2, 2023): Leader of Spain’s far-left launches election bid

Past Europe Elections

Finland General Elections: April 2, 2023

Finland held general elections in the context of its bid to join NATO after ending a long-standing policy of neutrality. Incumbent Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats placed third, behind the conservative National Coalition Party and the nationalist Finns Party, which placed first and second respectively. National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo will have the first shot at forming a government.

Jorge Liboreiro, Euronews (April 4, 2023): Analysis: Sanna Marin’s defeat puts European socialists in tight spot

CNN (April 3, 2023): Why did Finland’s PM lose? Reporter explains the key issue voters cared about

Charlie Duxbury, Politico (April 2, 2023): Finnish PM Sanna Marin set for defeat in national vote

AP (April 2, 2023): Finland’s center-right party claims victory in tight parliamentary election

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

Bulgaria held its fifth election in two years, but the results could continue the ongoing political stalemate.

Martin Penov, Emerging Europe (April 5, 2023): Five elections and counting, is there an end in sight to Bulgaria’s political stalemate?

Reuters (April 5, 2023): Bulgarian election runner-up rules out coalition with first-placed GERB party

Tatiana Vorozhko, Voice of America (April 4, 2023): How Will Bulgarian Election Impact Country’s Support for Ukraine?

AP (April 3, 2023): Borissov appears winner of Bulgaria’s parliamentary election

Stoyan Nenov, Reuters (April 3, 2023): Bulgaria set for tough coalition talks after fifth inconclusive election

AFP (March 31, 2023): Divided over Ukraine, Bulgaria votes for fifth time in two years

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

The Netherlands held water board and provincial council elections in March. Because the provincial councils choose members of the Senate, these elections can take on national importance. A new party, the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), which grew out of farmers protests, took 15 out of 75 seats in the Senate, surpassing Prime Minster Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD party. 

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.”

Reuters (April 5, 2023): Dutch government to face no-confidence vote after election loss

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.

Robert Beck, Foreign Policy Research Institute (April 4, 2023): A Transformative Czech Election and its Implications for the Post-Communist Region

Germany, Berlin State Elections: February 12, 2023

AFP (April 3, 2023): Berlin to get first conservative mayor in 20 years

France Elections: 2022

France held presidential and legislative elections in 2022. Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president, defeating right-wing Marine Le Pen by a significant margin. The next presidential election is not due until 2027.

Mujtaba Rahman, Politico (April 6, 2023): It’s premature to start worrying about a President Le Pen

AFP (April 5, 2023): Le Pen would beat Macron if French presidential vote repeated: poll

Lauren Chadwick, Euronews (April 5, 2023): France is on its fifth republic. Could the pension crisis usher in the sixth?

European Parliament

Nicolas Camut and Wilhelmine Preussen, Politico (April 4, 2023): Police raid center-right party’s Brussels HQ

Eddy Wax, Politico (April 1, 2023): Metsola’s charm offensive jolts EU election campaign to life

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.

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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