Europe This Week: April 28, 2021

April 28, 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 iconic Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland. Completed in 1890, the bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered to be a symbol of Scotland (for instance, it is featured on the Bank of Scotland’s £20 note). Scotland’s upcoming elections on May 6 will be very important for the future of both Scotland and the United Kingdom. Photo credit: Wikimedia/EG Focus (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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.

Euronews (April 29, 2021): Spanish tourism minister receives blood-stained knife as election threats continue

Daniel Dombey, Financial Times (April 29, 2021): Venezuelan politics haunt Madrid’s election campaign

Christina Galan, Reuters (April 27, 2021): Conservative PP to win snap election in Madrid region, poll shows

Carlos E. Cué, El País (April 27, 2021): Madrid election campaign descends into toxic battle

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


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph (April 29, 2021): An independent Scotland could flourish – as long as it doesn’t join the EU

Philip Sim, BBC (April 28, 2021): Scottish election 2021: Five unknowns which could decide the race

Stephen Mcilkenny, Herald Scotland (April 27, 2021): Scottish Election 2021: What is a list vote? Why has there been talk of ‘splitting votes’?

Libby Brooks, The Guardian (April 26, 2021): ‘I don’t trust him’: little buzz for Salmond or election in Scotland’s north-east

Gina Davidson, The Scotsman (April 25, 2021): Scottish Election 2021: Sarwar says he’s ‘tough enough’ to take on Nicola Sturgeon as poll puts Labour second

Kieran Andrews, The Times (April 24, 2021): Scottish elections: Nicola Sturgeon insists SNP doesn’t want a border with England

London Mayoral Election

Emily Ashton, Bloomberg (April 28, 2021): London Mayor Candidates Pitch Business Credentials Ahead of Poll

Emilio Casalicchio, Politico (April 27, 2021): London doesn’t hate the Tories … that much

John Dickie, City A.M. (April 26, 2021): London Mayoral election: The leader of the capital needs the constitutional power to get the job done

Nick Tyrone, The Spectator (April 23, 2021): London’s mayoral election is an embarrassment

Local Elections

Ashley Cowburn, The Independent (April 29, 2021): Local elections: The battleground mayoral contests across England this May

Guy Davies, ABC News (April 28, 2021): North Korean defector Jihyun Park looking to make democratic history in UK

Hartlepool By-Election

The Economist (May 1, 2021 edition): How the Tories may triumph in the Hartlepool by-election

Richard Moss, BBC (April 28, 2021): Hartlepool by-election: Old certainties no longer apply

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

Reuters (April 29, 2021): U.N.’s Guterres says common ground elusive in Cyprus talks

Germany Bundestag Elections: September 26, 2021 (plus various state 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. 

Following an intense fight, CDU and CSU have nominated CDU leader Armin Laschet to be their candidate for chancellor. He defeated the Bavarian Markus Söder, who is more popular with voters. Meanwhile, over the past year, the Greens have taken SPD’s place as the main center-left party. They have portrayed themselves as responsible and mainstream, and have governed as such when in state governments. Consequently, Annalena Baerbock could become the first Green head of government in the history of the world. However, despite his unpopularity, Armin Laschet remains the favorite to succeed Merkel as chancellor. Nonetheless, German voters have a real choice and Baerbock, who comes from the party’s “realo” (moderate) wing as opposed to the “fundi” (radical) wing – has an actual shot at the top job.  More

Mark Leonard, European Council on Foreign Relations (April 29, 2021): Germany’s Green Velvet Revolution?

Kate Brady, DW (April 29, 2021): German elections: Merkel nemesis Friedrich Merz joins team Laschet

Tarik Abou-Chad, Washington Post (April 28, 2021): Opinion: Could the German Greens win — and change European politics for good?

Esme Nicholson, NPR (April 28, 2021): These Are The Top Politicians Vying To Succeed Angela Merkel As Germany’s Chancellor

DW (April 25, 2021): Germany’s Greens ahead of Merkel’s CDU/CSU in new poll

Finland Local Elections: June 13, 2021 (postponed from April)

Finland is holding municipal elections on June 13, 2021, delayed from April due to COVID-19. Following the 2019 parliamentary elections, a left-leaning coalition came into government nationally. More

Pekka Vanttinen, Euractiv (April 29, 2021): Finnish government escapes near collapse, abandons strict fiscal prudence

Reuters (April 27, 2021): Finnish ruling coalition survives for now as economic recovery talks continue

Kati Pohjanpalo and Leo Laikola, Bloomberg (April 26, 2021): Finnish Cabinet’s Future Hangs in Balance as Talks Soured

France Regional Elections: June 13, 2021 and Presidential Election: April 2022 (due) 

France holds regional elections on June 13, 2021, with a second round on June 20. These come ahead of next year’s presidential and legislative elections, where President Emmanuel Macron potentially faces a formidable challenge from the far-right. More

Clea Caulcutt, Politico (April 29, 2021): After Marine Le Pen

Victor Mallet, Financial Times (April 29, 2021): France vows to punish military signatories of rightwing ‘call to arms’

Tracy McNicoll, France24 (April 28, 2021): French twist: Spectacular surprises are the norm in France’s presidential elections

Czech Republic Parliamentary Elections: October 8-9, 2021

The Czech Republic has scheduled parliamentary elections for October 8-9, 2021. The current prime minister, controversial billionaire Andrej Babiš, came to power following the 2017 parliamentary elections. His populist ANO party won a plurality, but not majority, of seats, and he has had a turbulent tenure in office. More

AP (April 29, 2021): Czech Lawmakers Change Electoral Law to Help Small Parties

Lauren Giella, Newsweek (April 29, 2021): Czech Citizens Protest President Milos Zeman for Pushing Country Into Arms of Russia

Erik Tabery, Project Syndicate (April 29, 2021): The Explosive Reset of Czech-Russian Relations

Reuters (April 24, 2021): EU audit finds Czech PM Babis in conflict of interest

Past Europe Elections

Albania Parliamentary Elections: April 25, 2021

Albania held parliamentary elections on April 25, 2021 in a tense political climate with several violent incidents. Since communism collapsed in 1990, Albania has held competitive elections and several transitions of power between political parties. The elections were close, and the incumbent Socialist Party won a third term in office, defeating the main opposition center-right Democratic Party. More

Gjergj Erebara, Balkan Insight (April 28, 2021): Albanian Police ‘Ignored Fraud Evidence’ at Politician’s Murder Scene

DW (April 27, 2021): Albania: PM Edi Rama secures third term for Socialist Party

Llazar Semini, AP (April 25, 2021): Exit polls: Tight race in Albania’s parliamentary vote

Mimoza Picari and Keida Kostreci, Voice of America (April 24, 2021): Election Data Breach Story Renews Press Freedom Debate in Albania

Randolph Kent, International Republican Institute’s Democracy Speaks (April 23, 2021): Albania’s Elections: Where Does Albanian Democracy Go?

Bulgaria Parliamentary Elections: April 4, 2021

Bulgaria held parliamentary elections on April 4, 2021. PM Boyko Borissov’s center-right GERB won the most seats, but lost ground and failed to win a majority. New parties running against the establishment did surprisingly well – in fact,  a party called There Is Such a People, led by TV star Stanislav Trifonov, came in second and has ruled out forming a coalition with GERB. Trifonov’s main platform was anti-corruption – indeed, corruption was the biggest issue in the election. In total, six parties won seats, producing a fragmented parliament.

Borissov has taken himself out of the running to continue as prime minister. If none of the parties are able to form a government, the country will hold new elections. More

Nina S. Barzachka and Stefka P. Yordanova, Washington Post (April 29, 2021): Bulgaria hasn’t been able to form a government. What happens now?

The Sofia Globe (April 28, 2021): Poll: Two-thirds of Bulgarians disapprove of Trifonov party’s refusal to form government

RFE/RL (April 26, 2021): Bulgaria Lurches Toward Fresh Elections After New Antiestablishment Party Can’t Form Government

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