Europe This Week: August 4, 2021

August 4, 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.

Flood damage in Altenahr Altenburg, Germany. Floods have become a major topic ahead of the September elections. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Martin Seifert (CC0 1.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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

Emma Anderson, Politico (August 5, 2021): German Greens must sit out vote in one state during national election: But far-right AfD succeeds in its appeal, allowing the party to run a list of candidates in another state.

Constanze Stelzenmüller, Brookings Institution (August 4, 2021): ‘None of the above?’ Germany’s eminently resistible chancellor candidates have escaped the hardships of previous leaders

Arne Delfs, Bloomberg (August 4, 2021): German CDU’s Laschet Delays Campaign Start to Tackle Floods

Jens Thurau, DW (August 3, 2021): German Green party presents plan for flood prevention

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.

Hannah Roberts, Politico (August 4, 2021): Italy’s 5Stars complete shift to traditional party: Members back overhaul championed by ex-PM Conte.

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. 

Pauline Bock, New York Times (August 3, 2021): Emmanuel Macron Told the French What to Do. It Didn’t Go Well.

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.

Jeremy Barr, The Independent (August 4, 2021): Fox News host Tucker Carlson takes his show and conservative message to Hungary

United Kingdom General Elections: May 2, 2024

The United Kingdom is due to hold its next general election on May 2, 2024, although early elections could happen in the event of a House of Commons no confidence vote in Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, or a two-thirds majority vote in favor of new elections.

In the UK’s May 6, 2021 local elections, 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.

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

George Parker, Financial Times (August 5, 2021): Starmer urges Labour to embrace Blair’s legacy as he vows to win the next election

Past Europe Elections

Bulgaria Snap Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021 (presidential election due in October/November 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 (ITN), 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 a majority. Ultimately, ITN’s Plamen Nikolov was invited to try to form a government, and thus the ball is currently in his court.

Moreover, Bulgaria is due to hold a presidential election in Fall 2021. In Bulgaria’s parliamentary system, the president plays a largely symbolic role. More

Christian Oliver, Politico (August 4, 2021): Summer in a Bulgarian village: Elections, lethal grannies and a bear

Reuters (August 3, 2021): Bulgaria’s prime minister-designate optimistic he can lead minority government

RFE/RL (July 30, 2021): Antiestablishment Party’s Nikolov Gets Mandate To Form Bulgarian Government

Slav Okov, Bloomberg (July 30, 2021): Bulgarian President Hands Pop Star Shot at Forming Government

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

Finland held local 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. The conservative National Coalition Party won the most seats in the local elections, with the Social Democrats placing second. The far-right Finns Party made gains in its vote share. More

YLE (August 1, 2021): Nearly 9,000 local councillors take office, two months later than planned: More than 40 percent of local councillors are now women, a slight rise from the previous term.

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

Una Hajdari and Aleksandar Brezar, Foreign Policy (August 2, 2021): Edi Rama Is Building Bridges to Europe—or Nowhere

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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