Europe This Week: March 31, 2021

March 31, 2021

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in Europe, usually posted on Wednesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

The old city wall of Durres, Albania’s second-largest city and a port on the Adriatic. In ancient times, Durres was known as Dyrrachium and was the starting point of the Roman Via Egnatia. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Fingalo (CC BY-SA 2.0 DE)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Bulgaria Parliamentary Elections: April 4, 2021 and Presidential Election: October/November 2021 (due)

Bulgaria holds parliamentary elections on April 4, 2021. The country has been in a long stretch of chaotic politics characterized by a series of early elections and caretaker governments, and a number of problems remain. Corruption and scandals have plagued the country since the 1990s. In that vein, the country is currently embroiled in anti-government protests, some violent, which have been going on since July. More

AFP (March 31, 2021): Through pandemic and protests, Bulgaria’s Borisov hangs on

Margarita Assenova, Jamestown Foundation (March 31, 2021): Russian espionage scandal in Bulgaria

AFP (March 30, 2021): Virus could raise vote-buying risk in Bulgaria election: report

bne Intellinews (March 29, 2021): Poll shows protest vote likely to decide Bulgaria’s April general election

Greenland Snap Parliamentary Elections: April 6, 2021

Greenland will hold snap parliamentary elections on April 6, 2021 after the government coalition fractured following disagreements over a mining project. Greenland remains part of Denmark but has autonomy over domestic policy, although there is growing support for eventual independenceMore

Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard, Reuters (March 31, 2021): Greenland to hold election watched closely by global mining industry

Mary Hui, Quartz (March 31, 2021): Rare earths mining is taking center stage in Greenland’s snap election

Albania Parliamentary Elections: April 25, 2021

Albania plans to hold parliamentary elections on April 25, 2021. Since communism collapsed in 1990, Albania has held competitive elections and several transitions of power between political parties. However, the country is currently in the middle of a tense political standoff between the governing Socialist Party and the main opposition center-right Democratic Party. More

Llazar Semini, AP (March 29, 2021): Economist who pulled Albania out of 1997 anarchy dead at 58

European Western Balkans (March 26, 2021): EP Report on Albania: April general elections will be essential for the consolidation of democratic procedures

Clare Nuttall, bne Intellinews (March 25, 2021): BALKAN BLOG: Albania’s opposition tries to take over Socialists’ EU accession mantle

Zeljko Trkanjec, Euractiv (March 25, 2021): PM accuses European Commission of interfering in Albania’s elections

Dena Ristani, Euronews (March 25, 2021): Albania’s election season begins amid violence, recriminations 

Exit Albania (March 25, 2021): Albanian parties get “creative” to avoid pandemic restrictions on 1st day of electoral campaign

Spain, Snap Regional Elections in Madrid: May 4, 2021

Madrid will hold early regional elections on May 4, following the collapse of the government coalition consisting of the conservative Popular Party and the liberal Citizens Party. These elections are taking place in a highly polarized environment, as conservative incumbent Isabel Díaz Ayuso faces off against leftist firebrand Pablo Inglesias, who surprised everyone by leaving his role as deputy PM to run in Madrid.

The Economist (March 27, 2021): Madrid’s snap election shakes up Spanish politics

United Kingdom Local Elections (including Mayor of London and Scottish and Welsh parliaments): May 6, 2021

The United Kingdom (UK) will hold local elections on May 6, 2021. Voters will elect various local councils, plus the mayor of London, plus Scottish and Welsh parliaments. The Scottish elections are particularly high-stakes because if the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a majority, they will pressure the government in Westminster to allow another referendum on independenceMore

Local Elections

Ross Lydall, London Evening Standard (March 31, 2021): London mayoral election: Record number of 20 candidates running for City Hall

BBC (March 27, 2021): English local elections: Johnson hails ‘incredible’ vaccine at Tory launch

Josh Sandiford, The Big Issue (March 26, 2021): Local elections 2021: Everything you need to know 


BBC (March 30, 2021): Scottish election 2021: Party leaders clash over need for indyref2

Pan Pylas, AP (March 26, 2021): Former Scottish leader launches new pro-independence party

Parliamentary By-Election in Hartlepool

Also on May 6, the parliamentary constituency of Hartlepool, near Durham, will hold a by-election following the resignation of Labour MP Mike Hill over sexual harassment allegations. For the first time, the newly-formed Northern Independence Party will contest the election, running former Labour MP Thelma Walker as its candidate. The party, ideologically social democratic, advocates for an independent “Northumbria.”

Tom Sheldrick, ITV (March 30, 2021 – video): Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visits Hartlepool ahead of May by-election

Steerpike, The Spectator (March 30, 2021): Northern Independence leader fails to whippet into shape

Cyprus Parliamentary Elections: May 30, 2021

Cyprus is due to hold parliamentary elections on May 23, 2021. The incumbent government led by the center-right DISY will face off against the center-left AKEL, the main opposition party (with a number of smaller parties also competing). This is all happening in the context of the ongoing Eastern Mediterranean crisisMore

Antigoni Pitta, Cyprus Mail (March 29, 2021): Akel focuses on welfare services and homes in election pledge (March 25, 2021): Cyprus government greenlights single referendum on local authority reform

George Psyllides, Cyprus Mail (March 25, 2021): Parliament plans to pass pay-as-you-throw law before elections

Germany, Saxony-Anhalt State Elections: June 6, 2021 (plus more elections throughout the year)

Germany is due to hold several sets of elections next year, culminating in the September 26, 2021 federal parliamentary elections that will determine who succeeds Angela Merkel as chancellor. Additionally, five states hold elections.  The year 2021 is thus a “Superwahljahr” (Super election year) in Germany. 

The states of Baden-Württemburg and Rhineland-Palatinate held elections on March 14. In both states, the incumbents won (in Baden-Wüttemburg, that was the Greens, boosted by the popularity of incumbent minister-president – the German equivalent of a governor – Winfried Kretschmann. In Rhineland-Palatinate, it was the Social Democrats). Coalition negotiations are still going on to decide which parties will form the new governments in those states. More

Guy Chazan, Financial Times (March 30, 2021): ‘We are a laughing stock’: Covid-19 and Germany’s political malaise

Piotr Buras and Jonathan Hackenbroich, European Council on Foreign Relations (March 30, 2021): How Germany could vote Green but keep the status quo

Emma Beswick, Euronews (March 29, 2021): Six months ahead of Germany’s extraordinary election where do things stand?

Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate (March 26, 2021): The Return of German Politics

Estonia Municipal Elections: October 17, 2021

Estonia – a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy – will hold municipal elections on October 17, 2021. More

BNN (March 29, 2021): Estonian municipal elections shouldn’t be postponed, most parties say

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: By June 5, 2022 – snap elections possible

Slovenia is due to hold elections in June 2022, but snap elections are possible. The current government is a conservative minority coalition headed by Janez Janša. It came to power in January 2020 after the center-left minority government of Marjan Šarec collapsed.

Anja Vladisavljevic, Balkan Insight (March 31, 2021): Failure to sack speaker boosts Slovenian opposition’s election hopes

Zeljko Trkanjec, Euractiv (March 30, 2021): Spat over Slovenian parliament speaker pick could lead to snap elections

Past Europe Elections

Netherlands Parliamentary Elections: March 17, 2021

Netherlands held parliamentary elections on March 17, 2020. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD once again won the most seats, but negotiations continue to decide which parties will make up the next government. More

Nick Ottens, Atlantic Sentinel (March 30, 2021): Fragmented Dutch Parliament Lacks Experience

AP (March 26, 2021): Official count confirms Rutte’s Dutch election victory

Eline Schaart and William Adkins, Politico (March 25, 2021): Coronavirus outbreak, resignations interrupt Dutch coalition talks

Kosovo Snap Parliamentary Elections: February 14, 2021

Kosovo held snap parliamentary elections on February 14. The left-wing nationalist Vetëvendosje won, potentially jeopardizing any resolution to a long-standing territorial dispute with Serbia.

Perparim Isufi, Balkan Insight (March 30, 2021): Opposition party clears path to parliament vote on Kosovo president

Romania Parliamentary Elections: December 6, 2020

Romania held parliamentary elections on December 6. Amid low turnout due partly to COVID-19, the scandal-plagued leftist Social Democrats (PSD) unexpectedly came in first place. However, a coalition of parties formed a center-right government, headed by Florin Cîțu from the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL). More

Alexandru Demianenco, New Eastern Europe (March 26, 2021): The AUR and the rise of Romanian nationalism – a new beginning or the remnants of the past?

Bosnia and Herzegovina Elections: November 15, 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) held local elections on November 15, 2020.The elections are taking place in the context of gridlock and ethno-nationalism, but the results delivered a blow to the three main ethnic-based political parties, with opposition forces winning in Sarajevo and other key cities. More

Hikmet Karcic, Newsweek (March 30, 2021): Bosnia and Herzegovina is fertile ground for the far right

Danijel Kovacevic, Balkan Insight (March 25, 2021): Bosnian political legend withdraws from Sarajevo mayoral race

Slovakia Parliamentary Elections: February 29, 2020

Slovakia held parliamentary elections in February 2020, won by a coalition of then-opposition parties running on an anti-corruption platform, defeating the then-incumbent populists. However, a subsequent scandal over the Russian Sputnik COVID vaccine has engulfed the government, threatening its collapse. More

William Nattrass, The Spectator (March 31, 2021): How the Sputnik vaccine brought down Slovakia’s prime minister

Peter Laca and Krystof Chamonikolas, Bloomberg (March 30, 2021): Slovakia has new leader as Russia vaccine feud ousts premier

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