Europe This Week: May 19, 2021

May 19, 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 medieval Paphos Castle on the southern coast of Cyprus. It was originally Byzantine, and has also been rebuilt and held by crusaders and the Ottomans. Cyprus heads to the polls this month. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Paul167 (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Cyprus Parliamentary Elections: May 30, 2021

Cyprus is due to hold parliamentary elections on May 23, 2021. The center-right DISY – currently in the majority – will face off against the center-left AKEL, the main opposition party (with a number of smaller parties also competing). Cyprus is a presidential system (the only full presidential system in the EU), so these elections will function as more of a test for the parties ahead of the 2023 presidential election. The current president is President Nicos Anastasiades (from DISY). This is all happening in the context of the ongoing Eastern Mediterranean crisisMore

Kyriacos Iacovides, Cyprus Mail (May 17, 2021): Plethora of new groupings contesting 2021 elections

Germany Saxony-Anhalt State Elections: June 5, 2021, and Bundestag Elections: September 26, 2021 (plus other 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. 


Sascha Döring, Jacobin (May 19, 2021): Germany’s Greens Are Neoliberals With Bicycles

DW (May 19, 2021): CDU’s Laschet says Germany must uphold NATO commitments

Imanuel Marcus, Berlin Spectator (May 19, 2021): Germany: Minister Giffey Resigns Because of Plagiarism Scandal, but Clings to Candidacy in Berlin

Kayleigh Madjar, Taipei Times with Channel News Asia (May 19, 2021): German party cuts ‘one China’ from election platform

Loveday Morris, Washington Post (May 13, 2021): Germany’s rising Green Party echoes many U.S. policies. That could rattle pipeline plans from Russia.

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

Liz Alderman and Constant Méheut, New York Times (May 19, 2021): Going Green, or Greenwashing? A Proposed Climate Law Divides France.

Gabrielle Debinski, GZERO (May 19, 2021): Will Marine Le Pen’s rebrand help her win?

Chloé Morin, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s IPS Journal (May 17, 2021): Who will save the French Left?

Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times (May 16, 2021): On the Scrappy Fringes of French Politics, Marine Le Pen Tries to Rebrand

AP, Bloomberg (May 13, 2021): Muslim veil stands in the way of French local elections candidate

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

YLE (May 14, 2021): A really simple guide to Finland’s 2021 local elections

Bulgaria Snap Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021

Bulgaria is holding fresh parliamentary elections on July 11 after no party formed a government following the April 4 elections. In those polls, 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 ruled out forming a coalition with GERB. Trifonov’s main platform was anti-corruption – indeed, corruption was the biggest issue in the election. More

Reuters (May 19, 2021): Bulgaria’s GERB party keeps small lead ahead of July snap poll

ING (May 18, 2021): Bulgaria: Solid growth despite messy politics

Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (May 13, 2021): Caretaker government will not change Bulgaria’s policy towards North Macedonia

Denitsa Koseva, bne Intellinews (May 12, 2021): Bulgaria’s caretaker government sets rule of law, transparent snap election as top priorities

Iceland Parliamentary Elections: September 25, 2021

Iceland holds elections for the Althing, its parliament (which has a strong claim to be the oldest parliament in the world), September 25, 2021. The current government is a broad coalition of the Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party, and the agrarian Progressive Party. More

Andie Sophia Fontaine, Reykjavík Grapevine (May 14, 2021): Poll: Conservatives Dip; Progressives And Pirates See Gains

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

Prague Morning (May 16, 2021): Will the Czech Pirates Sink the Czech Government?

Radio Prague International (May 13, 2021): Opposition parties to initiate no-confidence motion in Babiš minority government

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

Baltic News Network (May 19, 2021): Estonia’s EKRE populists become second most popular party

ERR News (May 14, 2021): AK: Parties’ local elections campaigning starts next month

Denmark Regional and Municipal Elections: November 16, 2021

Denmark is holding regional and municipal elections on November 16, 2021. The current government consists of the Social Democrats, with confidence and supply from several other left-of-center parties, led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. This government came to power following the 2019 elections, which saw the defeat of Lars Løkke Rasmussen‘s center-right coalition. The Social Democrats currently hold the most seats on local councils throughout the country, and control the governments of Copenhagen and the second-biggest city, Aarhus.

In addition, Greenland held hold snap parliamentary elections on April 6, 2021 after the government coalition fractured following disagreements over a China-backed rare earth minerals mining project at Kvanefjeld in the south. The long-dominant Siumut (Forward), which backed the project, lost to the left-wing green Inuit Ataqatigiit, which opposes the mine.

Greenland remains part of Denmark but has autonomy over domestic policy, although there is growing support for eventual independence. In these elections, pro-independence parties increased their vote share. More

RFE/RL (May 17, 2021): Blinken Meets With Danish PM At Start Of Diplomatic Trip Focused On Future Of Arctic


Vivienne Walt, Time (May 19, 2021): The U.S. Has Had a Military Presence in Greenland Since 1941. A Young New Leader Wants Much More

Yohei Ishikawa, Ryo Nakamura, and Tsukasa Hadano, Nikkei Asia (May 19, 2021): US, Russia and China seek edge as battle for Arctic heats up

Paul Goble, Jamestown Foundation (May 13, 2021): Greenland Likely to Be Cockpit of Arctic Conflict Between Russia and the West

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 populist Janez Janša. It came to power in January 2020 after the center-left minority government of Marjan Šarec collapsed.

AFP (May 20, 2021): Slovenia PM faces impeachment vote ahead of EU presidency

Anja Vladisavljevic, Balkan Insight (May 18, 2021): Slovenian Ruling Coalition Fails to Secure Parliamentary Majority

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: By Spring 2022 (or earlier)

Hungary is due to hold parliamentary elections by Spring 2022, although snap elections are possible. Prime Minster Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has become increasingly authoritarian, to the concern of many both in Hungary and in the international community.

Lili Bayer, Politico (May 19, 2021): Meet the candidates vying to defeat Viktor Orbán (May 18, 2021): Budapest takes stand against construction of Chinese university campus

bne Intellinews (May 17, 2021): Budapest’s liberal mayor enters race to be opposition PM candidate in 2022

DW (May 15, 2021): Hungary’s Viktor Orban faces challenge from Budapest mayor

Past Europe Elections

Croatia Local Elections (Runoffs May 30, 2021): May 16, 2021

Croatia held local elections for on May 16, and will hold runoffs in some places on May 30, 2021. These elections got a bit of a shakeup when Milan Bandic, the mayor of Zagreb, died in February after a combined 20 years in office (according to some reports, he was the world’s longest-serving mayor). Although Bandic had a devoted following, he was also controversial, and embroiled in a number of scandals. A former communist, he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) when Croatia began holding multiparty elections in 1990, but later broke off to start his own party.

Meanwhile, HDZ, the main conservative party, won last year’s parliamentary elections, after losing the January 2020 presidential election. Tomislav Tomašević from the green-left Možemo! appears to be leading the vote count for mayor of Zagreb.

Marcus Tanner, Balkan Insight (May 19, 2021): In Electing a Leftist Mayor, Croatia Follows European Trends (May 19, 2021): 70 Croatian cities have elected mayors in the first round of voting

HINA (May 16, 2021): NGO Says Elections Proceeding Peacefully, but with Numerous Voter Complaints

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

The United Kingdom (UK) held local elections on May 6, 2021. Voters will elected various local councils, plus the mayor of London, plus Scottish and Welsh parliaments. Overall, the Conservatives made gains on councils, but Labour’s Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor of London. Labour also held onto its working majority in the Welsh parliament.

The Scottish elections were particularly high-stakes because if the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has been demanding another referendum on independence. The SNP won the most seats, but failed to win a majority, making it harder to insist on a new referendum.

In addition, the Conservatives won a parliamentary election in Hartlepool, a longtime Labour stronghold, a sign of a possible realignment of British politics as the Tories make gains in the Labour heartland. Some analysts have said that Labour is going through a post-Brexit identity crisis. More

Kate Devlin, The Independent (May 18, 2021): Keir Starmer tells Labour MPs party has to ‘modernise’ to win again

Sky News (May 15, 2021): Sir Keir Starmer slumps 17 points behind PM in new poll – and a third of Labour voters want him to quit

BBC (May 15, 2021): Alex Salmond’s Alba party to contest 2022 council elections

David J. Scheffer and Madeline Babin, Council on Foreign Relations (May 13, 2021): What’s Next for Scotland’s Independence Movement?

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

Reuters (May 19, 2021): U.S. bars entry to former Albanian president Berisha due to corruption

Llazar Semini, AP (May 18, 2021): Albanian President Calls Impeachment Probe Committee Illegal

Zeljko Trkanjec, Euractive (May 18, 2021): Opposition Democratic Party to elect new leader

Valerie Hopkins, Financial Times (May 13, 2021): Albania is ‘growing up’, says twice re-elected premier Edi Rama

Austria Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 29, 2019

Austria’s government fell in a no-confidence vote – the first in Austria’s history – in May 2019 nfollowing the “Ibiza-gate” scandal involving the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), which had been part of the coalition headed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza offering state contracts in exchange for money to a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

Austria held snap elections in September 2019. ÖVP won the most seats, and the FPÖ saw a 10 percent loss in its vote share. Ultimately, ÖVP formed a coalition with the Greens, and Kurz once again became chancellor.

Austria is due to hold a presidential election by April 2022, but the role is largely ceremonial, with the chancellor instead holding most executive power.

Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico (May 19, 2021): The House of Kurz scandal, explained

Philip Oltermann, The Guardian (May 14, 2021): Austrian chancellor’s future in doubt over ‘Ibizagate’ lying claim

Derek Scally, Irish Times (May 13, 2021): Austrian chancellor who declared war on sleaze facing perjury charges

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

Madrid held 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 took place in a highly polarized environment, as conservative incumbent Isabel Díaz Ayuso from the Popular Party faced against leftist firebrand Pablo Inglesias. The Popular Party won the most seats, but fell short of a majority and will likely govern in coalition with the far-right Vox. Meanwhile, Citizens failed to meet the 5 percent threshold and thus lost all its seats, and the Socialists (who currently run Spain’s federal government) had a historically low vote share.

In addition, the region of Catalonia held elections on February 14, 2021. Pro-independence parties won a majority of the seats and have recently formed a government.


The Times of London (May 14, 2021): Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Iron Lady of Madrid, sets her sights on Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez


AFP (May 17, 2021): Separatist parties agree on new Catalan government

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

DutchNews.NL (May 14, 2021): Dutch fringe party offered Russian money before election: EenVandaag

Europe Elections in 2021 and 2022

Croatia Local Elections: May 16, 2021

Cyprus Parliamentary Elections: May 30, 2021

Latvia Local Elections: June 5, 2021

Germany, Saxony-Anhalt State Elections: June 6, 2021

Finland Municipal Elections: June 13, 2021

France Regional Elections: June 13, 2021

Bulgaria Fresh Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021

Norway Parliamentary Elections: September 13, 2021

Iceland Parliamentary Elections: September 25, 2021

Germany Bundestag Elections, plus state elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and probably Thuringia: September 26, 2021

Austria, Upper Austria State and Municipal Elections: September 26, 2021

Czech Republic Parliamentary Elections: October 8-9, 2021

Italy Municipal Elections, plus regional elections in Calabria: October 10-11, 2021

Estonia Local Elections: October 17, 2021

North Macedonia Local Elections: October 2021 (due)

Portugal Local Elections: October 2021 (due)

Bulgaria Presidential Election: October/November 2021 (due)

Denmark Regional and Municipal Elections: November 16, 2021

Kosovo Local Elections: Due in 2021

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: March/April 2022

France Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 2022 (due)

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: By June 5, 2022

Malta Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Sweden Parliamentary Elections: September 11, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2022 (due)

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Slovenia Presidential Election: October/November 2022 (due)

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