Europe This Week: June 2, 2021

June 2, 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 historic city hall in Daugavpils, Latvia, the biggest city that will hold local elections on Sunday. Photo credit: Wikimedia/alinco_fan (CC BY 3.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Latvia Municipal Elections: June 5, 2021

Latvia holds municipal elections on June 5, 2021, with the exception of Riga, which held a snap city council election last year, and two other cities. These are Latvia’s first local elections since the county enacted regional administrative forms that significantly reduced the number of local government bodies, from 119 to 42.

Latvia has been a democracy since regaining independence in 1991 (of note, none of the three Baltic nations ever actually recognized the Soviet occupation), and is a member of NATO and the European Union. These elections are happening in a heated geopolitical climate.

Last year’s Riga snap elections surprised political observers by knocking, Harmony, the party that Latvia’s Russian community supports, from the top spot. Harmony has historically been strong in Riga, the capital, but last year’s Riga elections surprised political observers by knocking Harmony down from the top spot. Instead, an alliance of the liberal Development/For! party and social democrat environmentalist Progressives won the most seats and formed the local government.

In addition, parliamentary elections are due in October 2022.  More

LETA (June 2, 2021): Up to four ministers may be replaced in the Latvian government

Silvija Smagare, LSM (June 1, 2021 – in Latvian): 10 lists are fighting for power in the “unstable” twilight mayor in Daugavpils

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. 

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

AFP (June 3, 2021): Crucial test for Merkel’s conservatives in Germany regional vote

Erika Solomon, Financial Times (June 2, 2021): Germany’s Greens lose their lustre as election heats up: Rivals seize on party missteps to beat back a Green lead in the polls

Ben Knight, DW (June 1, 2021): Germany’s far-right AfD poised to spoil narrative of Green party rise

Constanze Stelzenmüller, Brookings Institution (June 1, 2021): East German political winds ruffle feathers in Berlin

Imanuel Marcus, Berlin Spectator (May 30, 2021): Saxony-Anhalt: Can Reiner Haseloff Keep the Right-Wing Extremists at Bay?

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

AFP (June 2, 2021): Macron’s ‘grand tour’ of France gets underway ahead of regional elections

James Harrington, (June 2, 2021): EXPLAINED: The very precise rules of French election billboards

Rebecca Rosman, Business Insider (May 27, 2021): French generals wrote a letter warning of ‘civil war.’ It was ignored — until the far-right saw an opportunity

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 31, 2021): More than 10% of Finland cast early votes in 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

Tsvetelia Tsolova and Daphne Psaledakis, Reuters (June 2, 2021): U.S. blacklists 3 Bulgarians, 64 companies over corruption

Boryana Dzhambazova and Lili Bayer, Politico (June 2, 2021): US sanctions top Bulgarians for graft. EU does zilch.

Aleksandar Malinov, New Eastern Europe (May 31, 2021): Stuck in post-election limbo, Sofia holds the key to developments in the Black Sea and the Balkans

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

Austria’s Upper Austria (whose capital is Linz, home of the Linzertorte cake) state holds elections in September.

Austria’s federal 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. Subsequent snap elections gave ÖVP 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.

James Franey, DW (June 1, 2021): Austrian far-right leader Norbert Hofer resigns as FPÖ chief

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. A number of opposition parties plan to hold a primary to field a single candidate for prime minister. Gergely Karácsony, the liberal mayor of Budapest, is seen as a leading candidate to challenge Orbán.

Rhonda Kwan, Hong Kong Free Press (June 3, 2021): Budapest names street ‘Free Hong Kong’ in protest over new Chinese university campus

Hungary Today (June 2, 2021): Opposition Launches Primary Election Website

Vlagyiszlav Makszimov, Euractiv (May 31, 2021): Formerly far-right party Jobbik backs leftists in Budapest in opposition primaries

Tim Gosling, Al Jazeera (May 28, 2021): Plans for a Chinese university in Hungary fuel concerns

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (May 27, 2021): Viktor Orbán to become second EU leader hosted at No 10 after Brexit

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.

Gasper Andrinek, DW (June 2, 2021): Slovenia’s STA — a symbol of resistance within the country

Reuters (May 28, 2021 – video): Thousands rally in Slovenia for snap elections

AP (May 28, 2021): Thousands rally against Slovenian PM ahead of EU presidency

Past Europe Elections

Cyprus Parliamentary Elections: May 30, 2021

Cyprus held parliamentary elections on May 23, 2021. The center-right DISY – currently in the majority – maintained its majority, defeating the center-left AKEL, the main opposition party (with a number of smaller parties also competing). Notably, the far-right ELAM doubled its vote share from the 2016 elections, winning 6.8 percent of the vote.

Cyprus is a presidential system (the only full presidential system in the EU), so these elections 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

Evie Andreou, Cyprus Mail (June 2, 2021): Akel starts soul-searching process after poor showing in elections

Michele Kambas, Reuters (May 30, 2021): Cyprus sees nationalists gain in parliament vote

Helena Smith, The Guardian (May 30, 2021): Cyprus election: far-right party linked to Greek neo-Nazis doubles vote share

Croatia Local Elections: May 16 and 30, 2021

Croatia held local elections for on May 16, and with runoffs 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.

Anja Vladisavljevic, Balkan Insight (May 31, 2021): Green-Left Candidate Wins Zagreb Mayoralty, Promises Change

Joe Orovic, Euronews (May 27, 2021): In Zagreb, an election pits a far-right pop singer against an environmentalist… and a dead man

Europe Elections in 2021 and 2022

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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