Europe This Week: September 8, 2021

September 8, 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 farm near Simadalsfjorden fjord, Hardanger, Norway. Norway holds elections on September 13. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Sondekv (public domain)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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. She faces a serious challenge from the left-leaning opposition and the Greens. More

Gwladys Fouche and Terje Solsvik, Reuters (September 9, 2021): Climate, wealth gap in focus as Norway go to polls

Reuters (September 8, 2021): Factbox-Norway’s three candidates for prime minister

Richard Milne, Financial Times (September 7, 2021): Norway’s oil rises to top of election agenda as climate fears grow: Greens want immediate halt to exploration while bigger parties stand behind industry

AFP (September 2, 2021): Norway football coach calls for government change over virus rules

Iceland Parliamentary Elections: September 25, 2021

Iceland holds elections for the Althing, its parliament (which has a strong claim to the title of 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 (September 6, 2021): Crowded House: Parliamentary Elections In The Pandemic

Jelena Ćirić, Iceland Review (September 1, 2021): First Election Debate Covered Economy, Climate, and Healthcare

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 begun to rival SPD 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, in recent weeks, SPD has bounced back in the polls, making the election anyone’s game and increasing the likelihood that Germany ends up with three-party governing coalition for the first time in decades. More

BBC (September 8, 2021): German election: Merkel attacks left as polls point to defeat

Geir Moulson, AP (September 6, 2021): Germany protests to Russia over pre-election cyberattacks

Katja Hoyer, The Spectator (September 4, 2021): Could a left-wing coalition end up running Germany? Some of Die Linke’s mission statements read like something from a bygone era

Mark Scott, Politico (September 3, 2021): Russia sows distrust on social media ahead of German election: RT Deutsch, the Kremlin-backed media outlet, has become a major player on social media just weeks before the polls open.

Silvia Amaro, CBNC (September 3, 2021): ‘It is not a normal election’: The outcome of Germany’s historic vote remains uncertain

The Economist (September 2, 2021): Germany’s election, seen through the bottom of a glass: Conservative Bavarians and left-wing Berliners agree on beer but little else

Katrin Bennhold, New York Times (September 1, 2021): It’s Election Season in Germany. No Charisma, Please!

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

David Hutt, Euronews (September 8, 2021): Czech election: Opinion polls, key issues and all you need to know 

Ondřej Plevák, Euractiv (September 3, 2021): Babis toughens anti-EU rhetoric ahead of parliamentary elections

Jan Lopatka, Reuters (September 3, 2021): Czech opposition seeks closer ties with liberal allies, revival of euro adoption

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, on October 10 and 11. 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.

Daniele Lettig, Euractiv (September 9, 2021): Far-right parties lead Italian polls

Hannah Roberts, Politico (September 7, 2021): Daughter of Mafia victim vows to liberate Naples from the mob in mayoral race

Silvia Amaro, CNBC (September 3, 2021): Italy is enjoying an unusual period of political stability. But a crisis could be around the corner

Nick Squires, The Telegraph (September 2, 2021): Boar war erupts in Italy as politicians trade blame over invasion of Rome

Estonia Local Elections: October 17, 2021 (following an indirect presidential election that began on August 30)

Estonia – a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy – holds local elections on October 16, following an indirect presidential election on August 30.

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 sought re-election. However, the government nominated Alar Karis, director of the Estonian National Museum, and Karis ended up winning.

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 (September 3, 2021): Over 130 electoral groups rival main parties ahead of October’s local polls

bne IntelliNews (September 1, 2021): Estonian president-elect says will try to talk to all of country’s political forces

Alex Greenberger, Robb Report (September 1, 2021): The Art of Politics? Estonia Just Elected a Museum Director as President

Bulgaria Presidential Election: November 14, 2021 and Snap Parliamentary Elections (Likely – TBD)

Bulgaria is holding a presidential election on September 14, and will probably hold a third set of parliamentary elections since it looks like no government can be formed following the July 11 elections (themselves the result of no government being formed following the original elections on April 4).

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 ITN surpassed GERB to win the most seats, but not enough for a majority. ITN was not able to form a government, and the Socialists refused. Therefore, there is a strong chance of a third election, possibly around the time of the presidential election. More

RFE/RL (September 8, 2021): Bulgaria Bound For Fresh Elections After Socialists Also Fail To Form Government

Euractiv (September 6, 2021): Bulgarians head to the polls putting hope in new political force

EU Observer (September 3, 2021): Bulgaria to have third national elections this year

AP (September 2, 2021): Bulgaria to hold presidential elections on Nov. 14

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. 

Reuters (September 8, 2021): French far-right leader Le Pen plans to nationalise motorways if elected president

Clea Caulcutt, Politico (September 7, 2021): Who’s who in the race to find a conservative candidate to run for French president

Roger Cohen, New York Times (September 2, 2021): The French Left Is in Disarray, but Here Comes Anne Hidalgo: The charismatic and divisive socialist mayor of Paris is eyeing an office that has been occupied by eight male presidents over six decades.

Tom Wheeldon, France24 (September 1, 2021): Macron plans to tackle Marseille’s drug crime, with eye on re-election

AFP (September 1, 2021): French far-right party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen faces new hate trial

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: By April 2022

Serbia held snap parliamentary elections on June 21, 2020 in a climate of mistrust. Many opposition parties boycotted, and therefore, President Alexander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) dominated. Vucic announced that the new parliament would not serve a full term, and that the Serbia would hold both presidential and parliamentary elections by April 2022.

Serbia has tried to balance movement toward joining the European Union with maintaining good relations with Russia. Meanwhile, China has stepped up its presence.

Sasa Dragojlo, Balkan Insight (September 8, 2021): Serbian Opposition Leader Rejects EU-Proposed Electoral Reforms

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.

Transitions Online (September 8, 2021): Hungarian Opposition Seeks United Front

Euronews (September 7, 2021): Hungary’s opposition unites in bid to oust Viktor Orban from power

Zoltan Simon, Bloomberg (September 6, 2021): Orban Seeks to Quell Talk of Hungary’s EU Exit as Elections Loom

Past Europe Elections

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

Gjergj Erebara, Balkan Insight (September 2, 2021): Rama Appoints Albania’s First Mainly Female Cabinet

AP (September 2, 2021): Albanian PM names new proposed cabinet, dominated by women

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

Euronews (September 10, 2021): Romania’s government faces confidence vote after ministers resign from coalition

Matei Rosca, Politico (September 7, 2021): Reformist bloc resigns from Romanian government as political crisis continues

Reuters (September 1, 2021): Romanian PM sacks justice minister over reform response

Montenegro Parliamentary Elections: August 30, 2020

Montenegro held parliamentary elections on August 30, 2020, the fifth since independence in 2006. Although the pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists, which has been in power for 30 years, won the most seats, they did not win a majority, and a coalition of opposition parties united to form a government. Zdravko Krivokapic from For the Future of Montenegro will be the next prime minister. The political base of the new coalition is generally pro-Moscow.

Aleksandar Ivković, European Western Balkans (September 7, 2021): Enthronement crisis: Coordination between Đukanović and Vučić or deterioration of their relations?

Marton Dunal, Financial Times (September 5, 2021): Protesters angry at new Montenegro head cleric clash with police: Installation of orthodox metropolitan in Balkan country marred by violence over perceived links to Serbia

Stevo Vasiljevic, Reuters (September 5, 2021): Dozens injured in anti-Serbian protests in Montenegro

AFP (September 5, 2021): Protests as Montenegro’s new Orthodox head inaugurated

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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: November 14, 2021

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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