Europe This Week: July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

A weekly review 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.

A polling station during Bulgaria’s April 2021 elections, which failed to produce a government. The July 2021 elections might also not result in a government, potentially leading to a third election. Photo credit: Flickr/OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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, Reykjavik Grapevine (July 13, 2021): Poll: Most Icelanders Still Want A New Constitution

Germany Bundestag Elections: September 26, 2021 (plus state elections throughout the year)

Germany is holding 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 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 (July 15, 2021): Germany’s patriotism paradox

Katja Hoyer, The Spectator (July 15, 2021): The uninspiring choice facing German voters

Maegan Vazquez and Kevin Liptak, CNN (July 15, 2021): Merkel and Biden chart a course for the future of US-German relations in White House meeting

Nikolaus J. Kurmayer, Euractiv (July 13, 2021): Germany’s September elections could shape debate on EU budget increase

AFP (July 12, 2021): Germany’s Greens eye comeback as they launch election campaign

Erika Solomon, Financial Times (July 12, 2021): German climate group challenges ‘establishment’ Greens

Austria, Upper Austria State and Municipal Elections: September 26, 2021 and Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Austria’s federal government fell in a no-confidence vote – the first in Austria’s history – in May 2019 following 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’s Upper Austria (whose capital is Linz, home of the Linzertorte cake) state holds elections in September. All four parties who have seats in the state legislature – ÖVP, FPÖ, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), and the Greens – are part of the state government.

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

Markus Rohrhofer, Der Standard (July 15, 2021 – in German): Upper Austria election: federal shadow over the voting booth

Alexander Zens and Heinz Steinbock, Nachrichten (July 9, 2021 – in German): Upper Austria: Three months before the election: ÖVP remains first, FPÖ increases

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

Radio Prague (July 9, 2021): Pundit: Latest anti-graft party Oath have big chance of winning seats

Italy, Mayoral Elections in Rome, Milan, Turin, Naples and other cities and regional elections in Calabria: October 10-11, 2021

Italy is due to hold regional elections in Calabria in the south, as well as mayoral elections in several major cities, later this year. The next general elections aren’t due until June 2023, but as is ever the case with Italy, snap elections are possible. However, in January 2021, the government collapsed after former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his support. Former European Central Bank chief Mario “Super Mario” Draghi formed a government in February 2021.

Reuters (July 11, 2021): Italy’s 5-star founder and former PM end rift, paving way for party relaunch

Estonia Local Elections: October 17, 2021

Estonia – a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy – will hold local elections on October 17, 2021. Since January 2021, Estonia’s government has been a grand coalition of the center-right Reform Party and the centrist Centre Party, which has historically been supported by Estonia’s Russian community. Following the 2019 elections, Centre shocked the country by forming a government with the far-right EKRE, but PM Juri Ratas was forced to resign in January 2021 following a real estate scandal. Subsequently, Reform – previously in opposition – formed a coalition with Centre as the junior partner, making Reform’s Kaja Kallas Estonia’s first female prime minister. More

ERR News (July 13, 2021): Center, Isamaa, SDE all want president elected at Riigikogu

Kosovo Local Elections: Due in 2021

Kosovo is due to hold local elections in 2021. These follow  snap parliamentary elections that took place in February 2021. In those elections, Kosovo held on February 14. The left-wing nationalist Vetëvendosje won, potentially jeopardizing any resolution to a long-standing territorial dispute with Serbia. However, the new prime minister, Albin Kurti has also advocated for closer ties with the United States and Europe.

Nikola Burazer, European Western Balkans (July 13, 2021 – interview): [EWB Interview] Kurti: Kosovo is becoming a success story, we can live without Serbia’s recognition

Alon Ben-Mier, Jerusalem Post (July 10, 2021): Kurti’s momentous opportunity to transform Kosovo

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 by many as a leading candidate to challenge Orbán.

Daniel Baer, Foreign Policy (July 13, 2021): The Dangerous Farce of Late-Stage Orbanism

Sheena McKenzie, CNN (July 11, 2021): Orbán wants a Chinese university in Hungary. Opponents see a chance to turn his nationalist rhetoric against him

Jan Sztanka-Tóth, The New Federalist (July 9, 2021): Can the Hungarian opposition win in 2022?

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022 and Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

France holds presidential and legislative elections in spring 2022. These follow the June 2021 regional elections, in which the far-right failed to make gains that had been predicted by pre-election polls. The regional elections put the center-right Republicans in a stronger position to challenge President Emmanuel Macron, although the far-right Marine Le Pen plans to mount a vigorous campaign. 

France24 (July 13, 2021): France to hold 2022 presidential election rounds on April 10 and 24

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.

Gosia Piaskowska, European Council on Foreign Relations (July 15, 2021): The dangers of Slovenia’s presidency

AP (July 12, 2021): Slovenian PM says water referendum defeat no reason to quit

AP (July 11, 2021): Slovenian voters reject changing water protection law

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Latvia is due to hold parliamentary elections in October 2022. These follow this year’s local elections, which saw a record low turnout and a fragmented result.

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. More

Samuel Kramer, New Eastern Europe (July 13, 2021: Resign and rule: Latvia’s local elections analysed: The low voter turnout and inconclusive results in the Latvian municipal elections are likely to be repeated in next year’s general election.

Poland Parliamentary Elections: Fall 2023 (snap elections possible)

Poland is due to hold parliamentary elections in fall 2023, but snap elections are possible if the three-party government headed by the conservative Law and Justice does not hold together.

Euractiv (July 12, 2021): New media law puts Poland, US on collision course

James Shotter, Financial Times (July 10, 2021): Tusk’s return fires starting gun on Polish election campaign: Conservative-nationalist coalition losing momentum but re-energising the centre-right will be a challenge for ex-premier

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

Stephen McGrath, AP (July 15, 2021): Romania: Former ruling party leader gets early jail release

Past Europe Elections

Bulgaria Snap Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021

Bulgaria held fresh parliamentary elections on July 11 after no party formed a government following the April 4 elections. In the April 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.  In the July elections, Trifonov’s party surpassed GERB to win the most seats, but not enough for a majority. It remains unclear what the new government will look like, and a third election is not impossible. More

Tom Junes, Balkan Insight (July 15, 2021): Snap Elections Fail to Calm Bulgaria’s Political Instability

Reuters (July 15, 2021): Bulgaria anti-elite party drops PM nominee in bid to form government

RFE/RL (July 13, 2021): Final Results In Bulgarian Vote Confirm Win For Anti-Elite Party

Todd Prince, RFE/RL (July 13, 2021): Bulgarian Showman’s ‘Brinkmanship’ Could End Up Boosting Fortunes Of His Flagging Election Rival

Slav Okov, Bloomberg (July 11, 2021): Pop Star’s Win in Bulgaria Vote Doesn’t Fix Political Crisis

Boryana Dzhambazova, Politico (July 9, 2021): Elusive showman Trifonov holds keys to power in Bulgaria: Singer could win Sunday’s general election, but his agenda and own ambitions are an enigma.

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

Portugal Local Elections: 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)

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 10 and 24, 2022

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 2022 (due)

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: By June 5, 2022

France Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 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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