Europe This Week: April 26, 2023

April 26, 2023

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

A street in Salzburg, Austria. Communists will enter Salzburg’s state legislature for the first time since 1949 following state elections on April 23. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0)

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).

Prof Sir John Curtice, BBC (April 26, 2023): Local elections 2023: What do opinion polls suggest?

The Economist (April 25, 2023): The Economist’s UK election poll tracker

Albania Local Elections: May 14, 2023

Gjergi Erebara, Balkan Insight (April 26, 2023): Albania PM Denies Using Govt Funds to Blackmail Voters

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.

Alexander Clarkson, World Politics Review (April 26, 2023): Europe Has a Lot Riding on Turkey’s—and Greece’s—Elections

Leonie Kijewski, Politico (April 22, 2023): Greece’s legislative election confirmed for May 21

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. Hamza Karcic, a professor at the University of Sarajevo, notes: “On the surface, these election results may seem like nothing out of the ordinary: A veteran politician long accused of corruption was replaced by a youthful candidate with international credentials promising change. But Djukanovic’s defeat is a major victory for those who believe in a Serbian world and support its aims, because it removes barriers to Belgrade’s influence in Montenegro.”

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.

Foreign Policy (April 24, 2023): Serbia Is Taking a Page Out of Russia’s Book: Putin’s pursuit of a “Russian world” is rekindling Serbian expansionism in the Balkans.

– Kenneth Morrisonand  Srdja Pavlović, New Eastern Europe (April 24, 2023): The fall of Milo Djukanović heralds an uncertain new dawn for Montenegro

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

Vanessa Gera, AP (April 26, 2023): Poland: prosecutors open probe into opposition leader Tusk

Raphael Minder, Financial Times (April 23, 2023): ‘Who will pay the bill?’: Poland’s defence spending spree raises questions over funding

Al Jazeera (April 21, 2023): Why is Ukrainian grain suddenly so divisive in Europe?

Sławomir Sierakowski, Project Syndicate (April 20, 2023): Graindämmerung for Poland’s Populists?

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

Cain Burdeau, Courthouse News Service (April 21, 2023): Spain is entering a bitter election cycle. Will its Socialist leader survive?

Past Europe Elections

Austria, State Elections in Salzburg: April 23, 2023

Austria is holding a series of state elections ahead of federal elections due next year (in Austria’s federal system, state legislatures exercise a great deal of power). 

Recent state elections have seen political shakeups. The center-right ÖVP lost its absolute majority in the January 29 state election in Lower Austria – an ÖVP stronghold – as right-wing populist FPÖ made gains. This is a bad omen for ÖVP (which currently heads the federal government in coalition with the Greens) ahead of general elections next year. Lower Austria is an ÖVP stronghold, and the home region of many of the party’s leaders. 

Meanwhile, on March 5, Carinthia held state elections. While the Social Democrats (SPÖ) won, they lost ground.

Most recently, following the April 23 elections in Salzburg, the Communists will enter the state legislature for the first time since 1949.

Emily Schultheis, Foreign Policy (April 25, 2023): Austria’s Far Right Is Back on Top: Four years after a major scandal ousted it from government, the party is leading national polls again.

People’s Dispatch (April 25, 2023): Austrian communists enter Salzburg State Assembly for the first time since 1949

Wolfgang Vichtl, Tagesschau (April 24, 2023 – in German): KPÖ and FPÖ celebrate in Salzburg

Fabian Lehr, Jacobin (April 21, 2023): Will a Socialist Lead Austria’s Social Democrats Again?

Kosovo Partial Local Elections: April 23, 2023

Dustan Stojanovic, AP (April 24, 2023): Serbian leader lashes out at the West over Kosovo vote

RFE/RL (April 23, 2023): Amid Boycott, Turnout Meager In Local Elections In Serbian Strongholds Of Northern Kosovo

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.

YLE (April 24, 2023): Sanna Marin: SDP not expecting invite to government formation talks

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.

Radosveta Vassileva, New Eastern Europe (April 21, 2023): Bulgaria’s election spiral: the anatomy of disappointment

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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