Europe This Week: July 28, 2021

July 28, 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.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Norway holds elections in September, and Solberg faces a tough contest. Photo credit: Flickr/European People’s Party (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Estonia Indirect Presidential Election: August 30, 2021 and Local Elections: October 17, 2021

Estonia – a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy – will hold an indirect presidential election starting on August 30 and local elections on October 17, 2021. In Estonia’s parliamentary system, the president plays a largely ceremonial and representative role, with no executive power. The Riigikogu (parliament) elects the president. Incumbent Kersti Kaljulaid is eligible to run for another term.

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 28, 2021): MEP: Presidential election process neglecting importance of foreign policy

Norway Parliamentary Elections: September 13, 2021

Norway holds parliamentary elections on September 13, 2021. Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who heads a center-right coalition, has been in office since 2013. More

Alf Ole Ask, EU Observer (July 26, 2021): Will Erna Solberg be the Nordic Merkel – winning a third term?

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

Jan Bielicki, Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter (July 28, 2021): Merkel and beyond

Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg (July 28, 2021): How Germany’s Greens Moved From Fringe to Contenders

DW (July 28, 2021): Germany: Jewish leader warns against cooperation with AfD

Guy Chazan, Financial Times (July 28, 2021): German liberals eye government role as electoral prospects improve

Patrick Donahue and Henry Meyer, Bloomberg (July 27, 2021): Kremlin Targets Germany’s Green Candidate Over Anti-Moscow Stance

Portugal Local Elections: September 26, 2021

Portugal holds local elections on September 26. The two main parties, center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and leftist Socialist Party (PS), regularly alternate in power. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa from PSD won the 2016 presidential election and was re-elected in January 2021. More

The Portugal News/LUSA (July 26, 2021): António Costa says election campaigning will be hard

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.

Ariel David, Haaretz (July 29, 2021): What’s Fueling the Shocking Rise of Italy’s Far Right?

Jason Horowitz, New York Times (July 29, 2021): Italy’s Mr. Fix-It Tries to Fix the Country’s Troubled Justice System — and Its Politics, Too

North Macedonia Local Elections: October 2021 (due)

North Macedonia is due to hold local elections in October 2021. These follow parliamentary elections in July 2020. Following a historic agreement with Greece, and a name change, North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020 and is currently in talks to join the EU (although now Bulgaria is trying to hold that up). The country’s politics are fragmented and fractious. The 2020 elections were extremely close, but ultimately PM Zoran Zaev and his Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) were able to once again form a government with the backing of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the main ethnic Albanian party (ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of the population).

SDSM also controls most of the municipalities heading into the upcoming local elections, having beaten the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE in a majority of municipalities and ousting the VMRO-DMPNE mayor of Skopje.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight (July 29, 2021): North Macedonia MPs Adopt ‘Red Lines’ in Bulgaria Talks

AP (July 26, 2021): North Macedonia: 4 jailed over 2017 parliament attack

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022, followed by Legislative Elections: June 2022 (due)

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. 

Agnés Poirier, London Evening Standard (July 29, 2021): Can Emmanuel Macron turn the tide?

The Economist (July 29, 2021): Why France’s Provence and the Riviera are so right-wing

Michele Barbero, Foreign Policy (July 27, 2021): Macron’s Big Vaccination Gamble: The French president is making vaccines mandatory for many—sparking fresh protests ahead of next year’s elections

Linda Gross and David Keohane, Financial Times (July 25, 2021): France’s north takes political centre stage ahead of 2022 polls: Presidential rivals seek credit for projects to revive region that has seen three decades of decline

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.

Gergely Szakacs and Anita Komuves, Reuters (July 30, 2021): Hungarian election panel clears questions of LGBT referendum

Tim Gosling, World Politics Review (July 29, 2021): The EU Is Upping the Ante on Rule of Law Abuses in Hungary and Poland

Gabrielle Debinski, GZERO (July 28, 2021): Is Hungary in for an “anyone but Orbán” election?

AP (July 26, 2021): Thousands march in Hungary Pride parade to oppose anti-LGBTQ law

Bosnia and Herzegovina General Elections: October 2022 (due)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is due to hold general elections in October 2020. The 202 local elections, which took place in the context of gridlock and ethno-nationalism, delivered a blow to the three main ethnic-based political parties, with opposition forces winning in Sarajevo and other key cities. BiH faces a number of problems, including poor economic prospects, incompetent governance, and bitter political fights. More

Aleksander Brezar, Euronews (July 28, 2021): Is Bosnia’s Milorad Dodik using genocide denial for political ends?

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

Euronews, AP, AFP (July 30, 2021): Bulgaria’s President pushes for government talks to avoid another election 

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (July 30, 2021): Bulgaria Winning Party Proposes Political Newcomer for PM: Bulgaria’s President on Friday mandated July election winner ‘There’s Such a Nation’ to form a government, even though earlier that day, it seemed far from clear who it wanted to propose as Prime Minister.

Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (July 30, 2021): Bulgaria risks third parliamentary elections in a year

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

Llazar Semini, AP (July 30, 2021): US opposes ex-Albania leader taking seat in new parliament

Marton Dunal and Valentina Pop, Financial Times (July 28, 2021): Balkan trio push ‘mini-Schengen’ as they hit out at EU membership delay: Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia to launch own border-free travel and business zone amid frustration with Brussels

European Western Balkans (July 28, 2021): ODIHR Final Report on elections in Albania detects undue advantage for the ruling party

Exit Albania (July 26, 2021): OSCE/ODIHR Final Report: Further Electoral Reforms Needed

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Presidential Election: October 11 and 18, 2020

Northern Cyprus held a presidential election in October 2020. The election, like Northern Cyprus itself, was recognized only by Turkey. Ankara-backed nationalist Ersin Tatar won, exacerbating tensions on the island. This is all happening in the context of the ongoing Eastern Mediterranean crisis. More

Hannah Linda Smith, Times of London (July 26, 2021): Turkish Cypriots fear the heavy hand of Erdogan: Independent statehood remains but a dream for the people of northern Cyprus, who are increasingly dismayed by the attentions of a strongman over the water.

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Estonia Indirect Presidential Election: August 30, 2021 (by parliament)

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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