Europe This Week: September 22, 2021

September 22, 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.

On Sunday, Germany holds key elections that will determine who succeeds Angela Merkel as chancellor. Photo credit:
Flickr/Arno Mikkor, EU2017EE (CC BY 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 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

AFP (September 23, 2021): Icelanders go to polls fearing a big ‘unstable’ coalition

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

Nic Houghton, The Local Germany (September 22, 2021): Why Bavaria does politics differently to the rest of Germany

Holly Ellyatt, CNBC (September 21, 2021): Germany’s election race is too close to call as Socialists’ poll lead narrows

The Economist (September 18, 2021): The warring parties’ plans for Germany’s economy are full of holes: The post-election coalition talks are likely to be extremely arduous

Matthias Matthijs, Council on Foreign Relations (September 17, 2021): Merkel’s Legacy and the Future of Germany

Frank Jordans, AP (September 15, 2021): Sidelined by rivals, Germany’s far-right AfD bides time

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

Paula Martins, The Portugal News (September 16, 2021): Who are the main parties for the local elections?

San Marino Abortion Referendum: September 26, 2021

San Marino, one of Europe’s smallest states, holds a referendum on legalizing abortion on September 26, 2021. It is a controversial topic in this deeply conservative country.

Angelo Amante and Emily Roe, Reuters (September 20, 2021): San Marino abortion debate heats up ahead of historic referendum

Switzerland Referendums: September 26, 2021

Switzerland holds referendums frequently (Swiss citizens are fans of direct democracy), and the next ones come on September 26. The first question will pertain to taxes, and the second will be on marriage equality.

Silke Koltrowitz and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, Cecile Mantovani, Reuters (September 22, 2021): Divided Swiss to vote on same-sex marriage

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

Reuters (September 22, 2021): Czech far right sets ‘Czexit’ referendum law as price for post-vote talks

William Nattrass, The Independent (September 19, 2021): Czech elections: governing party battles to fend off meteoric rise of Pirate party amid voter scepticism

Tim Gosling, Times of London (September 19, 2021): Pirates on the defensive in Czech elections: Led by Ivan Bartos, the party had a commanding lead in opinion polls until it came under sustained attack by incumbent prime minister Andrej Barbis

Bulgaria Parliamentary Elections, Take 3 and Presidential Election: November 14, 2021

Bulgaria is holding a presidential election on November 14 along with a third set of parliamentary elections since no government was formed following the July 11 elections (themselves the result of no government being formed following the original elections on April 4). In Bulgaria’s parliamentary system, the prime minister holds executive power, while the president is largely ceremonial.

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, Bulgarians will head to the polls for a third time. More

Boyko Vassilev, Transitions Online (September 20, 2021): Will the Third Time Be a Charm?

Reuters (September 19, 2021): New centrist faction to run in Bulgaria’s third election this year

Denitsa Koseva, bne IntelliNews (September 16, 2021): Balkan Blog: Bulgaria’s Harvard-educated saviours-in-waiting

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. 

Max Fisher, New York Times (September 22, 2021): France, Striving for Global Power, Still Struggles to Get It

Samuel Abettan and Charlotte de Montpellier, ING (September 22, 2021): French elections: A Macron-Le Pen rematch is far from guaranteed

Elizabeth Pineau, Reuters (September 21, 2021): Right-wing chat-show celebrity may alter France’s election dynamics

Dustin Jones, NPR (September 19, 2021): Why A Submarine Deal Has France At Odds With The U.S., U.K. And Australia

Rick Noack, Washington Post (September 18, 2021): Why the French are so furious at the Biden administration over a derailed submarine deal

Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times (September 17, 2021): From TV to the French Presidency? A Right-Wing Star Is Inspired by Trump Éric Zemmour, a writer and TV celebrity known for his far-right nationalism, dominates political talk in France as he weighs a run for president.

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.

RFE/RL (September 20, 2021): Orban Sets Hungarian Election Tone With Billions In Promises

DW (September 18, 2021): Hungarian opposition mounts challenge to Orban with unified primaries

Nich Cohen, The Guardian (September 18, 2021): Meet the brave, consensual mayor set to face down Hungary’s autocrat

Vlagyiszlav Makszimov, Euractiv (September 16, 2021): Opposition-led Hungarian capital holds democracy conference in sign of defiance

Past Europe Elections

Norway Parliamentary Elections: September 13, 2021

Norway held parliamentary elections on September 13, 2021. Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who had led a center-right coalition since 2013, suffered a defeat from the left-leaning opposition, which will now form a government (the exact makeup remains to be seen). More

Terje Solsvik, Reuters (September 26, 2021): Norway’s election winners to meet in bid to form majority government

AFP/The Local (September 15, 2021): Norway election: Is the Nordic swing to the left nothing but an illusion?

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

Todd Prince, RFE/RL (September 19, 2021): U.S. Seeks Acceleration Of EU-Balkan Integration, Senior Official Says

Reuters (September 17, 2021): Albania votes in its first female dominated government

Llazar Semini, AP (September 16, 2021): Albania claims global leadership for women in government

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.

Samir Kajosevic, Balkan Insight (September 16, 2021): Reshuffle Demand Further Strains Montenegro’s Fragile Govt

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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